Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Texas Eagle’

Westbound Texas Eagle to Detour in Texas May 1-8

April 26, 2017

Amtrak’s westbound Texas Eagle is being detoured in Texas between May 1 and 8 due to track work being performed by Union Pacific.

The train will miss its scheduled stops at Marshall and Longview, Texas.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers boarding at Shreveport, Louisiana; Marshall, Texas; and Longview, Texas, will board Thruway bus 6421 to Mineola, Texas, where they will board Train 21/421.

Passengers on Nos. 21/421 who are traveling to Shreveport, Marshall and Longview will detrain at Mineola and ride Thruway bus 6121 to their destination. Bus 6121 will originate at Mineola instead of Longview.

Those on Nos. 21/421 who are scheduled to make connections with Thruway bus 6021 at Longview will also detrain at Mineola and take Thruway Bus 6021 to their destination. Bus 6021 will originate in Mineola instead of Longview.

During this period, Amtrak personnel will be available at Mineola to assist customers.

Chicago-St. Louis Corridor Rebuilding Nearing Completion

April 18, 2017

The Illinois Department of Transportation says a $1.95 billion rebuilding of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor is close to being finished.

The project, which began eight years, will conclude with work in the coming months in Madison and Macoupin counties in Illinois near St. Louis.

IDOT officials say that 75 percent of the 284-mile corridor will feature speeds of up to 110 miles per hour.

Among the work yet to be done is temporarily closing 18 grade crossings to allow for the installation of new gates, fencing and other improvements.

Grade crossings will receive “four-quad” gates to block two traffic lanes on each side of the track and keep vehicles from going around the gates

Sidewalk gates will keep pedestrians from crossing while a train is approaching and 3-foot-high pedestrian fences will be installed at to encourage people to cross where they should.

Officials said some service will be suspended between May 16 to 23 for bridge work in the Metro East area of St. Louis.

The suspensions will affect trains operations between St. Louis and Springfield, Illinois. Chartered buses will replace trains during that period.

Much of the route upgrading, which has included laying new rails and putting down concrete ties has been funded by the federal government.

IDOT officials said increasing the maximum speed in open areas to 110 will cut about an hour off the corridor travel time.

“Currently, it’s about five and a half hours from end to end,” said Scott Speegle, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation. “It’ll be about four and a half once the project is finished and we’re able to run the 110 high speed.”

However, officials said that although they expect the higher speed project to be finished this year they cannot yet say when the 110 mph speeds will be allowed.

It could be in 2018, but that will depend on testing the line’s positive train control system.

“They have to be very conservative with testing,” said Richard Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.

Speegle said aside from higher speeds, the PTC system will allow for better train flow and increased reliability.

He noted that much of the corridor is a single track line hosting passenger and freight trains.

Some double track and lengthened siding have been added to facilitate meets of opposing rail traffic.

The Chicago-St. Louis corridor is used by Amtrak’s Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle.

Some Lincoln Service Canceled on April 3. Texas Eagle to Detour Between Chicago and St. Louis

March 28, 2017

Track work being performed on Monday, April 3 will result in cancellations and detours in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.

Amtrak said in a service advisory that Lincoln Service trains 300, 301, 302 and 303 will be canceled. All except No. 300 will be replaced by charter bus service at each station on the route.

The buses will depart earlier than the scheduled departure show in the Amtrak timetable.

Lincoln Service trains 304, 305, 306 and 307 will run on their normal schedules.

The Texas Eagle in both directions will detour and bypass the stations of Joliet, Pontiac, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville and Alton.

Amtrak said passengers ticketed to travel on Nos. 21 and 22 to or from these stations are advised to instead travel on Lincoln Service trains or buses.

Operations of the Texas Eagle will not be affected south of St. Louis. Amtrak said the detour may delay the Eagle by up to 45 minutes.

EB Sunset Limited to Run 2 Hours Earlier

February 14, 2017

Amtrak’s eastbound Sunset Limited will operate two hours earlier from Los Angeles to San Antonio between March 1 and April 5.

sunset-limitedThe change also affects the through cars from Los Angeles to Chicago that are conveyed by Train No. 2 as far east as San Antonio and interchanged to the Texas Eagle.

No. 2 will depart San Antonio at its scheduled time of 6:25 a.m.

The temporary schedule has the Sunset leaving Los Angeles at 8 p.m. and arriving in San Antonio at 2:50 a.m.

The schedule change is due to track work being performed by Union Pacific.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the schedule change will not affect Nos. 2/422 on March 12.

The earlier operation means that there will be no connection at Los Angeles for passengers arriving on the Coast Starlight from Seattle.

Coast Starlight connecting passengers will be directed to disembark at Sacramento, California, and board a bus to Los Angeles.

Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin customers who will not make their connection to Train 2/422 can contact Amtrak for train service options.

Bridge Fire Strands Sunset Limited near San Antonio

February 3, 2017

A bridge fire Thursday night shut down rail traffic near San Antonio, which brought Amtrak’s Sunset Limited to a halt.

sunset-limitedAmtrak chartered buses to rescue the 155 passengers and 12 crew members aboard the eastbound train, which also has through cars between from Los Angeles to Chicago that are interchanged in San Antonio with the Texas Eagle.

The fire broke out about 10 p.m. on a trestle on the Union Pacific tracks in Southwest Bexar County.

News reports said fire destroyed the 100-foot long bridge over a creek. The bridge is located near MacDonna LaCoste and Hackelberg roads.

Amtrak No. 2 was halted about 1 a.m. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said passengers had food, water, electricity and air conditioning, but a passenger called a local radio station to report that the train smelled of urine and feces. “We can’t even flush the toilet,” she said.

Union Pacific spokesman Jeff DeGraff said the fire broke out about midnight.

“For right now, we do have some trains that are being rerouted on alternate lines, mainly going north into Dallas, then they can come back down to San Antonio,” DeGraff said. “We also have some trains that have a little more flexibility in their schedule and we have been able to hold those.”

Amtrak Studies Austin-San Antonio Service

January 10, 2017

Amtrak has agreed to study launching a commuter rail service between San Antonio and Austin, Texas, that would ease highway congestion between the two cities.

Amtrak logoTexas Public Radio reported that officials in the two cities turned to Amtrak after a regional rail commuter plan known as the Lone Star Rail project collapsed.

At the request of the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Amtrak is studying ridership and revenue potential and how much it would cost to upgrade the Union Pacific line between the two cities, which are 80 miles apart.

The goal would be to offer a service that could average 90 miles per hour and duplicate what Lone Star Rail would have provided.

That would be a train leaving every 30 minutes during peak travel times. The service would begin in South San Antonio and terminate at Georgetown outside of Austin.

Much of this route is now served by Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Transportation officials say the commute on Interstate 35 between the two cities take two and a half hours.

The Amtrak study is expected to be completed by the middle of 2017.

San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor said the study is projected to cost $100,000 on the study.  Capital for track improvement and operations would come mostly from private investors.

If financing can be lined up, the service could be implemented in three to five years.

San Antonio leaders are also eyeing another rail service that would link their city with Monterrey, Mexico, via Laredo, Texas.

The concept is for high-speed rail that would operate at a top speed of 250 miles per hour making the trip in two hours.

Laredo Congressman Henry Cuellar insists that the proposal is not just a pipe dream. He said he’s met with Mexican officials, federal and state transportation officials, and private investors who would consider financing the project.

“You connect San Antonio’s large population, Laredo and, of course, Monterrey with 4.5 million individuals,” Cuellar said. “Entities like Sea World (in San Antonio), when I talk to them they’re all excited, because that means potentially a new base of customers.”

Amtrak once linked San Antonio and Laredoe with its Chicago-Laredo Inter-American. which was discontinued south of San Antonio on Oct. 1, 1981, and renamed the Eagle between San Antonio and Chicago.

Normal Amtrak Station Platform Improvements Expected to be Completed by This Summer

January 6, 2017

A project to improve the Amtrak platform at the station in Normal, Illinois, is expected to be completed by this summer.

Amtrak 4The Normal City Council recently approved spending $40,000 for the project and will be reimbursed by a federal grant.

Amtrak has two platforms in Normal and the improvement project is focused on the south platform.

The work will include installing a fence to prevent passengers from crossing the tracks between the platforms. Instead, they will need to walk to Broadway Avenue to cross the rails, which are owned by Union Pacific.

A cable car system will be installed to assist disabled or elderly passengers.

The Normal station, which also served neighboring Bloomington, is a stop for Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Service Disruptions Loom for Texas Eagle, Crescent

December 29, 2016

Service disruptions will affect the Texas Eagle and Crescent in early 2017.

Amtrak logoBetween Jan. 9 and 15, the Chicago-San Antonio train will not stop at Arcadia, Missouri. It will detour on those dates between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Missouri, due to Union Pacific track work.

Track work being done by Norfolk Southern will result in passengers ticketed aboard the New York-New Orleans Crescent riding buses between Atlanta and New Orleans.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said Nos. 19 and 20 will not operate on the following days south of Atlanta:

Southbound Train 19: Sunday through Wednesday on Jan. 8-11, 15-18, 22-25; Jan. 29-Feb. 1; and Feb. 5-8, 12-15 and 19-22.

Northbound Train 20: Monday through Thursday on Jan. 9-12, 16-19, 34-26; Jan. 30-Feb. 2; and Feb. 6-9, 13-16 and 20-23.

Intermediate stations affected are Anniston, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa in Alabama; Meridian, Laurel, Hattiesburg and Picayune in Mississippi, and Slidell, Louisiana.

On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays No. 19 will operate normally at all intermediate stations between Atlanta and New Orleans. Train No. 20 will have normal operations at those stations on  Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Amtrak’s Sunset Limited Will Depart LA 2 Hours Earlier on Select Days in January, February

December 24, 2016

The Sunset Limited will operate earlier from Los Angles to El Paso, Texas, on select days in January and February due to Union Pacific track work.

sunset-limitedThe altered schedules will also apply to passengers originatin on the Texas Eagle between those points, but will not affect the Eagle schedule east of San Antonio. The Los Angeles section of the Texas Eagle is conveyed by the Sunset Limited.

The effective dates are Jan. 11, 13, 15, 25, 27 and 29, and Feb. 8, 10 and 12.

On those dates, Train No. 2 will depart from Los Angeles at 8 p.m., two hours earlier than scheduled.

Arrival and departure times at intermediate stations between Los Angeles and El Paso will be two hours earlier.

However, No. 2 will depart from El Paso at its scheduled time of 3:35 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The track work will not affect the operation of the westbound Sunset Limited.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers will not be able to make connections on the affected days to No. 2 from the inbound Coast Starlight or some Pacific Surfliner trains.

One Day at High Noon in Springfield, Illinois

December 15, 2016
ia-june-1977-01

The technical quality of this image isn’t great but it is one of the few photographs that I have of an SDP40F taken trackside leading a train.

ia-june-1977-02

Looking south from the fireman’s side of Amtrak SPD40F No. 613 in Springfield, Illinois.

ia-june-1977-03

The control stand of an Amtrak SDP40F.

ia-june-1977-04

Engineer Dean Elliot awaits a highball to depart Springfield, Illinois, with Amtrak train No. 21 in June 1977.

It is almost high noon in June 1977 in Springfield, Illinois. I’m standing near the Illinois Central Gulf tracks (former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio) tracks awaiting the arrival of Amtrak’s westbound Inter-American from Chicago to Laredo, Texas.

I don’t recall if No. 21 was late or on time, but even if the former, it was not excessively tardy.

Leading No. 21 was SDP40F No. 613. I made a single photograph of it sitting in the station with its train.

The image isn’t that good, a product of harsh light, improper exposure and the fact that I scanned it from a color negative that is almost 40 years old.

I wanted to photograph the Inter-American because it still ran with SDP40F locomotives and those have always been a favorite of mine.

The engineer of the train spotted me and waved. On impulse I asked him if I could come up into the cab.

He said “yes” and up I went and got the other three images  you see with this post.

I would later learn that the engineer was Dean Elliot and that he is now deceased. He was a railroader’s railroader and I can only imagine the stories he would have had to tell about life on the road.

But there was no time for that. I only had enough time to grab a few shots before the conductor gave No. 21 a highball to leave Springfield. I thanked the crew and climbed down.

And off they went to St. Louis where a Missouri Pacific crew would take over to pilot the Inter-American on its continuing journey to Laredo.

Today, Nos. 21 and 22 are named the Texas Eagle and operate between Chicago and San Antonio.