Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Texas Eagle’

Amtrak Service Cuts Just Keep Coming

March 19, 2020

Amtrak service to Michigan will be reduced to two pairs of trains and service cuts will be imposed on three corridor routes in Illinois.

However, no service reductions are being planned for the long-distance network Amtrak spokesman Marc Magilari told Trains magazine.

Michigan trains that will continue to operate are the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water while Wolverine Service will consist of No 352, which departs Chicago at 1:25 p.m. and arrives in Pontiac at 8:32 p.m. and No. 351, which departs Pontiac at 5:50 a.m. and arrives in Chicago at 10:32 a.m.

Canceled are the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette and two Wolverine Service roundtrips.

On the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini will continue to operate while their counterparts are canceled.

The corridor is also served by the City of New Orleans which provides service northbound in the early morning hours and southbound in late evening.

Between Chicago and Quincy the Carl Sandburg will be canceled while the Illinois Zephyr will continue to operate.

Part of the Chicago-Quincy corridor will continue to be served by the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief.

The Chicago-Milwaukee corridor will be reduced to one Hiawatha Service roundtrip with the Empire Builder picking up some of the slack.

The one Chicago to Milwaukee Hiawatha will depart at 5:08 p.m. for a 6:45 p.m. arrival in Milwaukee.

There will also be a late night bus from Chicago to Milwaukee that leaves Chicago at 9:15 p.m.

The Milwaukee to Chicago Hiawatha will depart at 8:05 a.m. and arriving in Chicago at 9:34 a.m.

The Empire Builder will handle local passengers at all stops, including at Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee airport station, both of which Nos. 7 and 8 normally do not serve.

However, the Empire Builder is an afternoon operation in both directions between Chicago and Milwaukee so passengers will not be able to travel northbound in the morning or southbound in the evening.

On the Chicago-St. Louis corridor the southbound 7 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. departures from Chicago will be cut.

Lincoln Service trains will continue to depart Chicago at 9:25 a.m. and 7 p.m.

From St. Louis, Lincoln Service trains will depart at 4:35 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The Texas Eagle will also continue operating in the corridor. Canceled are northbound Lincoln Service departures from St. Louis at 6:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

For now Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City will continue operating on its current level of service of two roundtrips per day.

On the West Coast, the Capitol Corridor route will see a reduction from 15 to five weekday departures in each direction between Sacramento and Emeryville, California, effective March 23.

This does not include the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight, which uses part of the corridor.

Service reductions on the San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner corridors have not yet been announced.

Cascades Service is no longer operating north of Seattle and will see the last round trip of the day canceled.

A presentation by the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University in Chicago said Amtrak’s current bookings are down 60 percent, future reservations are off 80 percent, and passenger cancellations are up 400 percent compared with the same period last year.

In a related development the Trump administration has proposed that Amtrak receive $500 million in emergency aid.

The carrier had said it needs $1 billion to cover losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding is part of a supplemental appropriation proposal the administration has sent to Congress totaling $45.8 billion.

2 Illinois Routes Saw Ridership Up in FY2019

November 23, 2019

Ridership of two Amtrak routes in Illinois increased in fiscal year 2019.

The Chicago-St. Louis corridor carried 756,062 passengers during the fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, an increase of 5.5 percent from the previous year, and 24 percent higher than fiscal year 2011.

Those figures include ridership of Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains as well as the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle, which used the route.

The Illinois Department of Transportation funds the Lincoln Service trains.

IDOT and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation jointly fund the Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service, which saw a gain of 38,000 passengers.

Ridership of Hiawatha Service trains was 882,189 in FY2019, a 4.5 percent increase over FY2019.

Just 2 BUILD Grants Will Benefit Amtrak

November 17, 2019

Only two of the rail projects that recently received federal BUILD grants that were awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation will directly benefit Amtrak service.

Both involve Amtrak stations in Illinois.

A $14 million grant was awarded for building an underpass at the station in Normal, Illinois, that also serves nearby Bloomington.

The federal funds will pay for design and construction of a pedestrian, bicyclist, and passenger underpass and a second boarding platform at the station.

Normal is served by Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains as well as the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

The other grant was $14 million for design and construction of a new multi-modal transportation center in downtown Carbondale.

That station will replace a modular facility Amtrak opened in the 1980s.

Carbondale is the southern terminus of Amtrak’s Illini and Saluki as well as an intermediate stop for the City of New Orleans, which operates between Chicago and New Orleans.

USDOT handed out $900 million in BUILD grants for 55 transportation-related infrastructure projects in 35 states,

Half of the funding went to projects in rural areas of the country and the lion’s share ($603 million) went to highway projects.

Rail projects received $48.3 million or 5 percent of the total. Transit projects received $84.6 million or 10 percent of the total.

Florida received the largest amount of grant funding followed by North Carolina, Maine, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana.

California received two grants while Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut received no grant funding.

UP Track Work to Disrupt Lincoln Service, Lead to Texas Eagle Detouring Between Chicago and St. Louis

September 14, 2019

Amtrak’s Texas Eagle has detoured many times over the former route used by Chicago & Eastern Illinois passenger trains between Chicago and St. Louis. No. 22 is shown passing through Tuscola, Illinois, on Aug. 6, 2012.

The Texas Eagle will detour and certain Lincoln Service trains will operate on modified schedules next week due to Union Pacific track work.

On Sept. 17, Train 307 will operate between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.

Alternate transportation will be provided for the missed stops at Springfield and St. Louis.

On Sept. 18, Trains 300, 302, 304 and 306, will operate between Bloomington-Normal to Chicago. Alternate transportation will be provided between St. Louis and Normal with the buses operating earlier than their corresponding train schedules.

Also on Sept. 18, Trains 301, 303 and 305 will operate between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal.

Alternate transportation will be provided south of Normal with the buses operating later than their corresponding train schedules.

The Eagle on Sept. 18 will detour in both directions between Chicago and St. Louis and miss the scheduled intermediate stops in Illinois at Joliet, Pontiac, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville and Alton.

No alternate transportation will be provided for missed stops for passengers traveling from Chicago to those stations.

Passengers traveling to Chicago will remain on board Train 22 upon its arrival in St. Louis from San Antonio.

Passengers traveling to Alton, Carlinville, Springfield, Lincoln, Bloomington-Normal, Pontiac and Joliet will disembark in St. Louis and board bus 3322.

Amtrak said Nos. 21 and 22 may incur up to 60 minutes in delays along the detour route.

Faster Speeds Remain Elusive on Chicago-St. Louis Route

September 4, 2019

Faster speeds in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor are still several months away.

An Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the agency hopes that Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle will be able to operate at 90 miles per hour by the end of the year between a point south of Springfield and Granite City in the St. Louis metropolitan region.

Until then, though, trains in the corridor are restricted to a top speed of 79 mph.

Guy Tridgell, the IDOT spokesman, said the 90 mph top speed is expected to be implemented over the balance of the route next year.

But IDOT has declined to say when its stated goal of a 110 mph top speed will be achieved.

The agency with the help of federal funding has spent $1.95 billion over the past eight years to rebuild the tracks between Chicago and St. Louis for higher-speed service.

Most of the route is owned by freight operator Union Pacific.

Late last year, IDOT had projected that 90 mph speeds would be into effect during the summer of 2019, but that hasn’t happened.

IDOT has said that a 110 top speed would cut the typical 5½-hour running time between Chicago and St. Louis by 50 minutes.

A top speed of 90 mph speeds would cut it by 15 to 20 minutes.

Officials continue to attribute the delays in implanting higher speeds in the corridor to installation and testing of a new GPS-based positive train control system.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told the Post-Dispatch that there is no guarantee that the 90 mph speeds will be reached this year.

“We have to test it and the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) looks at our test data,” he said

Since 2010, IDOT, Amtrak and UP have installed new rails and concrete ties on the route as part of its rebuilding.

Grade crossing protection equipment has been installed to prevent vehicles from going around crossing gates.

Sidewalk gates and fencing discourage pedestrians from crossing tracks while a train is approaching.

Additional passing sidings have been installed and some double-track segments have been lengthened.

Even when faster speeds are authorized by federal regulators, northbound trains in the corridor will still endure a segment of 30-mph running near Granite City that lacks signals for 79-mph operation.

Track Work Affects Lincoln Service, Texas Eagle

July 26, 2019

Grant to Rebuild Bridge Used by Amtrak

June 16, 2019

A federal grant will be used to repair a bridge over the Mississippi River used by Amtrak trains.

The grant of $28.8 million was awarded by the Federal Railroad Administration to the

Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis to rebuild the MacArthur Bridge over the Mississippi River.

Completed in 1917, the bridge carries Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains and it’s the primary rail crossing of the river at St. Louis.

The work will involve replacement of the main span girders on 677-foot structure.

The project cost of $57.3 million project will also be shared by the five Class I railroads serving St. Louis.

The grant will come from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program.

The FRA had in 2017 awarded $7.1 million to replace the west approach to the bridge, the Broadway Street Truss.

Officials said the rebuilding will extend the life of the bridge to 2085 and bring the structure up to current standards.

Suspension of Missouri Trains Extended to June 12

June 7, 2019

Amtrak on Thursday extended the suspension of its Missouri River Runner trains by another two days through June 12.

Affected are trains 311, 313, 314 and 316 between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Displaced passengers are being transported by chartered buses to all stations served by the trains.

The suspension began  on May 22 when host railroad Union Pacific increased freight traffic on the line due to flooding elsewhere on its system in the Midwest and South.

In the meantime, UP said Thursday that is has reopened its route between Chicago and Texas that is used in part by Amtrak’s Texas Eagle.

The Eagle has been suspended for the past week between St. Louis and Fort Worth, Texas.

River Runners Suspended Through June 10

June 4, 2019

Amtrak said today that it has extended the suspension of its Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City through June 10.

It cited continued heavy freight traffic on host railroad Union Pacific on the route of the River Runners, which has been the result of flooding in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The service suspension has been in effect since May 22. Passengers are being transported to and from all stations served by the trains via chartered buses that seek to operate close to the schedule of the trains they’ve replaced.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said it along with the Missouri Department of Transportation, which funds the River Runners, is continuing to monitor the situation on a daily basis.

UP officials said that flooding has receded slightly in some areas, but a level break  is expected to cause severe flooding at Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Also out of service for now is Amtrak’s Texas Eagle, which has been suspended between St. Louis and Fort Worth, Texas.

Nos. 21 and 22 continue to operate between Chicago and St. Louis and between Fort Worth and San Antonio.

Flooding in Missouri briefly caused a suspension of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief last week, sending passengers to chartered buses.

Amtrak’s Missouri River Runners use the Sedalia Subdivision between Kansas City and Jefferson City, Missouri, and UP officials have been carefully watching flooding near that route.

Another UP route between Kansas City and Jefferson is closed due to flooding.

A report said the BNSF Ottumwa Subdivision, used by Amtrak’s California Zephyr, had water covering the tracks in Burlington, Iowa.

However, trains were operating through there at reduced speed and the Mississippi River had reportedly crested at 24.5 feet last Saturday.

A breached levy did not affect the BNSF tracks in Burlington because they are outside of the level system used to protect downtown.

BNSF personnel were relaying operating instructions to passing trains via radio because power to switches had been disrupted.

The flooding in the Midwest is the worst the region has seen since 1993.

Missouri River Runners Still Suspended

June 3, 2019

Although Amtrak has removed a notice from its website regarding suspension of its Missouri River Runners, the carrier has cancelled those trains for today.

For more than a week the River Runners, which operate between St. Louis and Kansas City, have been replaced by charter buses.

Host railroad Union Pacific has been diverting freight traffic to the route used by Nos. 311, 313, 314 and 316 due to flooding elsewhere on its system.

A check of the Amtrak website under “train status” found that all four trains are shown as being canceled.

The Texas Eagle between St. Louis and Fort Worth, Texas, has also been cancelled this week for similar reasons. Nos. 21 and 22 are still operating between Chicago and St. Louis, and between Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas.