Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Texas Eagle’

Texas Eagle P42 Catches Fire After Crash

August 23, 2018

The Texas Eagle caught fire this week after being involved in a grade crossing accident near Longview, Texas. No injuries were reported aboard the train.

The westbound Eagle struck a pick-up truck that was being towed. News reports indicated that a towing strap broke and No. 21 hit the pick-up at about 15 to 20 mph.

The head-end crew saw the truck stalled on the rails and had slowed the train from 60 mph when the crash occurred.

After the collision, the pick-up was dragged about 200 yards. It and the locomotive caught fire, prompting the crew to evacuate the train.

A Harrison County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said the fire was intense enough that it “melted the front of the train.”

Amtrak said the 145 passengers and crew members on board were taken by school buses to an area church to wait for chartered buses that took them to their destination.

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New Platforms in Use in Carlinville

August 13, 2018

New platforms at the Amtrak station in Carlinville, Illinois, are now in use.

In a service advisory Amtrak said its trains can arrive and depart on the west or east platform so passengers should check the station information displays and listen for announcements to know where their train will be arriving or departing.

Passengers are urged to use caution when crossing between platforms on the north ends where the sidewalk and Illinois Route 108 (West Main Street) cross the tracks.

Carlinville is served by Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Advocates Working to Save, Promote Trains

August 1, 2018

Motivated by fears that Amtrak is laying the groundwork to eviscerate its long-distance trains network, some rail passengers advocates are going to battle to save their favorite train.

Mark Meyer, a member of the Rail Passengers Association created a website to advocate on behalf of the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

Such efforts long predate the appointment of Richard Anderson as CEO of Amtrak.

Back in the 1990s passengers advocates established The Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization to fight efforts to discontinue the Chicago-San Antonio train.

Since 2011, ColoRail has been fighting on behalf of the Southwest Chief.

Jim Souby, president of ColoRail, told Trains magazine that these grassroots efforts can be critical to saving service.

“These local folks have the ears of their legislature and congressional leaders and that makes all the difference,” Souby said.

Websites created by groups advocating on behalf of specific trains also are used to promote them by trying to drum up patronage along the route.

Meyer told Trains that he created his website because does not believe Amtrak is doing enough to market the Empire Builder.

He plans to spotlight every town served by the Builder as well as provide a history of the train and ways for people to connect with members of Congress to let them know how important the train is to them.
“Someone needs to promote the (long-distance trains) and explain what they do and why they’re needed,” Meyer said.

The TEMPO website has long done the same thing.

Dr. William Pollard of Conway, Arkansas, said every passenger who sees the website and decides to ride the train is a potential advocate for the Texas Eagle and other long-distance trains.

A veteran of many battles for Amtrak funding, Conway said most of those fights have been with Congress. But now advocates find themselves fighting Amtrak itself.

Pets Can Now Ride Chicago-St. Louis

July 11, 2018

Pets are now being allowed aboard Amtrak trains in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.

This includes all Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle.

In a news release, Amtrak, said all of its Midwest routes now allow pets onboard subject to their owners meeting certain rules.

Dogs and cats weighing up to 20 pounds can be transported if they are placed beneath a passenger’s seat.

Reservations are required as well as payment of a $25 fee for the pet.

Pets are only allowed for trips that take no more than seven hours.
Amtrak began carrying pets aboard some trains in 2014 and has since transported more than 5,600 pets on state sponsored trains terminating or originating in Chicago.

Petitioners Seek to Save Marshall Ticket Office

June 12, 2018

More than 500 people have signed a petition seeking to save the Amtrak ticket agent in Marshall, Texas.

The office is one of 15 being closed as part of a nationwide cost-cutting program by Amtrak to close ticket offices serving an average of less than 40 passengers per day.

The petition was sent to federal and state officials on Monday. The Marshall ticket office is slated to close on June 29.

Marshall is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Shreveport Thruway Station Moved

June 8, 2018

Amtrak Thruway Service connecting Shreveport, Louisiana, with Texas Eagle train service at Longview, Texas, has been moved from the Shreveport International Airport to the new SporTran Intermodal Terminal, located just outside of downtown Shreveport.

The address for the new facility is 1237 Murphy Street, Shreveport, LA 71101

Greyhound Thruway service, connecting Shreveport with the City of New Orleans at Jackson, Mississippi, and with the Crescent at Meridian, Mississippi, will relocate to the SporTran Intermodal Terminal, on a future date.

Until that date is finalized by Greyhound, its Thruway service will continue to be offered to/from the existing Greyhound station in Shreveport.

Excursion Being Offered From Alton

May 30, 2018

The American Association of Railroaders is sponsoring trips on June 2 from Alton to Carlinville, Illinois, and return.

The outbound trip will be aboard an Amtrak Lincoln Service train that will depart from the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center at 3:30 p.m.

Passengers will return to Alton at 6:30 p.m. aboard the Texas Eagle. During the layover in Carlinville, passengers will be able to get something to eat at one of the two fast food restaurants located a block from the station.

AAR President Rich Eichhorst will offer commentary en route, and railroad souvenirs will be available for purchase.

Non-refundable fares are $35 for adults and $29 for children age 11 and younger.

Chicago-St. Louis Route Rebuilding Nearly Complete

May 25, 2018

The Illinois Department of Transportation says that rebuilding of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor is substantially complete.

“The remaining work primarily [is] focused on the installation of fencing in Springfield and at the southern end of the corridor; crossing improvements in Springfield; and the completion of the Kankakee River Bridge in Wilmington,” said Guy Tridgell, an IDOT director of communications based in Chicago.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the current top speed of the Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains on the route is still 79 p.m. although that is expected to increase to 90 mph by the end of the year.

“We had a section of 110 mph but it was not meant to be permanent,” he said referring to a stretch between Pontiac and Dwight. “The system is being installed, not just to be faster, but more reliable.”

Alton Seeks Developers for Station Area

May 12, 2018

Alton, Illinois, officials continue to talk with developers about their ideas to develop the area bordering the Amtrak station.

Two developers have proposed mixed use plans with the only variation being the mix of tenants they would seek to attract to the proposed Wadlow Town Center.

“We are still talking with a couple entities; we still are talking about the nature of what they want to do with the property,” said Greg Caffey, Alton director of development and housing. “Both parties are large developers in the St. Louis area. They have a very strong interest in this, it is just a matter of time.”

The Alton Amtrak station is located on the former 55-acre Robert P. Wadlow Municipal Golf Course.

It opened last year and replaced a station built by the Chicago & Alton Railroad decades ago on College Avenue. That station has since been razed.

Alton officials had originally issued a request for proposals to develop Waldlow Town Center and set a March 1 deadline, but received no proposals by then or a revised deadline of March 31.

Caffey said the city remains open to ideas and proposals to develop the 35.87 acres west, northwest, southwest and south of the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center that is used by Amtrak and Madison County Transit buses.

Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and its Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle stop in Alton.

“We’re in no rush; we want what is in the best interest for the site and for the community,” Caffey said. “We want a quality development for the community.”

Alton Mayor Brant Walker envisions a retail and casual dining district that would not cannibalize what exists in Alton and Godfrey.

“The city desires that the property be developed in accordance with transit-oriented design principals and meets the requirements of the city’s Mixed Use Transportation zoning classification,” the city said in its request for proposals.

The request did not suggest types or sizes of businesses that officials would like a developer to bring to the site.

Fighting to Keep Ticket Offices Open

May 12, 2018

Officials in Topeka, Kansas, and Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas, are fighting to keep open the Amtrak ticket offices located in their cities.

The national passenger carrier is closing 15 ticket offices nationwide, targeting stations that serve 40 or fewer passengers a day.

In Kansas, Topeka Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz called for the city to fight the plan.  “We cannot let this die,” she said.

“We are the capital city and we need to make sure that this man stays,” she said in reference to the Amtrak agent who works at the station.

The Topeka ticket office is slated to close on May 18. Topeka is served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

Ortiz encouraged the public to contact U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) to seek his help.

She believes ridership of Amtrak trains will diminish after the Topeka agent is removed.

Although Ortiz called on her fellow council members to pass a resolution supporting keeping the ticket office open, the council did not take any action.

In Texarkana, the Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization is trying to rally support in keeping that city’s ticket office open.

The group has also protested plans to close a ticket office in Marshall, Texas. Both stations are served by the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

TEMPO is seeking the support of Main Street Texarkana, which is seeking to promote development of the area around the station.

“This year, Amtrak received a record amount of federal funding, the largest ever received by America’s passenger railroad. Amtrak received this historic level of funding because of the bipartisan support of Congress for a nationwide passenger train system. Given that support, it is not appropriate for Amtrak to implement cuts affecting only national network stations without first making an effort to improve ridership at those stations,” TEMPO said in a statement.

TEMPO said it wants Amtrak to delay closing the ticket offices until adequate efforts have been made to increase ridership, in partnership with affected cities.