Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s western trains’

Empire Builder Derails in Montana on July 29

June 8, 2020

One passenger and three crew members were treated at a hospital and several others suffered minors injured in a May 29 derailment of Amtrak’s westbound Empire near Bainville, Montana.

The derailment occurred after the train struck a tractor at a rural crossing. The driver of the tractor was killed.

The collision caused a fire in the lead P42DC. The trailing unit and most of the eight cars left the rails but did not overturn.

No. 7/27 was traveling an estimated 75 miles per hour at the time of the collision, which closed the BNSF mainline for several hours.

Document Gives Insight into Amtrak Summer Plans

May 12, 2020

An Amtrak planning document shows that the carrier plans to continue to operate most services this summer with reduced consists and many routes will continue to have reduced frequencies.

The document is dated May 7 and subject to change.

Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service will resume service on June 1 with one roundtrip, Nos. 330 and 339 on weekdays and Nos. 332 and 339 on weekends.

Starting June 14 service will increase to four roundtrips, Nos. 329, 331, 337, 339, 330, 332, 338 and 342.

Before the pandemic service had been seven daily roundtrips.

Lincoln Service between Chicago and St. Louis is slated to be two daily roundtrips, Nos. 300, 303, 306 and 307 with all operating with four coaches.

The corridor previously hosted four Lincoln Service roundtrips.

Chicago-Quincy and Chicago-Carbondale services will remain the same as they are now.

The Illinois Zephyr will operate with two coaches while the southbound Illini and northbound Saluki will have a Superliner consist.

The Chicago-Quincy Carl Sandburg remain suspended as does the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini.

Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City will also remain unchanged at one roundtrip (Nos. 313 and 314). The route previously hosted two roundtrips.

Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service corridor will continue to operate with one daily roundtrip whereas until the COVID-19 pandemic struck it had three daily roundtrips.

There will be no change in operations of the Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water.

The planning document shows the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette not operating, but that appears to be an error.

However, the Amtrak website shows Nos. 370 and 371 as operating starting June 1 and reservations can be made.

Amtrak also plans to restore the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and gradually ramp up service in the Keystone Corridor in eastern Pennsylvania.

Starting June 1 Amtrak will restore Keystone Service to nine roundtrips operating between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

On July 5 one roundtrip will be extended to New York. On Sept. 5 service between Harrisburg and New York will be restored to all trains.

The level of service planned this summer will be two roundtrips fewer than what Amtrak operated last summer.

Keystone Service trains will operate with their normal consists while the Pennsylvanian will have its normal consist of four coaches, one business class car, a food service car and a baggage car.

Downeaster Service is expected to return on July 1 operating only with one roundtrip on weekedays. Normal service of five daily roundtrips is expected to return on Sept. 5.

Empire Service will be six roundtrips for the summer compared to nine last year. That is an increase of one roundtrip per day compared with the spring.

Service will bump up to seven roundtrips on Sept. 5. However, the Maple Leaf will continue to operate only as far west as Niagara Falls, New York, rather than resume service to Toronoto.

The Vermonter will resume operating to St. Albans, Vermont, on June 1 while the Adirondack is shown as continuing to be suspended between New York and Montreal.

The New York-Charlotte Carolinian will resume regular operations June 1 while Piedmont Service will be one roundtrip between Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina. Piedmont Service had been three roundtrips.

As previously announced, Acela Express will return June 1 with four roundtrips, which is still way down from the normal 15 roundtrips.

Northeast Regional service will ramp up to 10 roundtrips compared to the current eight. Last summer there were 18 roundtrips.

Springfield shuttle service will be three roundtrips between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts, with one roundtrip between Springfield and Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Previously service on this route was seven roundtrips between New Haven and Springfield. Normal service is projected to return on Sept. 5.

In the West, Cascades Service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, will continue to be suspended.

Cascades Service between Seattle and Portland will be two roundtrips compared to the normal four. There will be one roundtrip between Portland and Eugene, Oregon, compared to two previously.

The Capitol Corridor will have eight roundtrips on weekdays and five roundtrips on weekends. Previous service was 14 weekday and 11 weekend roundtrips.

San Joaquin service will be four roundtrips with normal service of seven roundtrips returning in early September.

Pacific Surfliner service is projected to be six roundtrips through July 5. The next day service will rise to nine roundtrips. The previous service level had been 14 roundtrips.

No long-distance services have been suspended during the pandemic, but consists have been reduced in size. That is expected to change this summer.

The Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited is slated to operate this summer with three coaches, two sleepers and a diner-lounge. There will be no separate lounge car or baggage car.

Nos. 29 and 30 currently are carrying two coaches, one sleeper and a diner-lounge.

The Lake Shore Limited summer consist will be three sleepers, four coaches, one dining car for sleeper class passengers, one club dinette and a baggage car.

Nos. 48 and 49 will be the only eastern long-distance train carrying a Viewliner II dining car for sleeper class passengers only.

The Chicago-New York Cardinal will see no change this summer from its current consist of two coaches, one sleeper and a diner-lounge.

The New York-Miami Silver Star and Silver Meteor will both operate with two sleepers, a lounge car and a baggage car. The Silver Star will have three coaches while the Silver Meteor will have two.

The planning document said the Silver Meteor will have three fewer coaches and one less sleeper than it did last summer and will not have a dining car.

The New York-Savannah, Georgia, Palmetto is set to have four coaches and a food service car with tables. That is two fewer coaches than it had last summer but one coach more than it has now. There will be no baggage car as there was last year.

The New York-New Orleans Crescent will have three coaches, two sleepers and a lounge car. That is one less coach and sleeper from its previous consist.

The City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans will have it normal consist

The California Zephyr between Chicago and Emeryville, California, will have three coaches, one sleeper, a Sightseer lounge and dining car.

That is a net gain of one coach from the current consist but one less sleeper than it carried last year. There will be no baggage car.

The Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief will carry three coaches, two sleepers, a dining car and Sightseer lounge. That is a net gain of one sleeper and coach from the current consist but a loss of one sleeper and coach from summer 2019. There will be no baggage car.

The New Orleans-Los Angeles Sunset Limited will have two coaches, one sleeper, a dining car and a Sightseer lounge. That is one sleeper less than summer 2019. There will be no baggage car.

The Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle will have three coaches, two sleepers, a dining car and a Sightseer lounge. That is a net gain of one coach and one sleeper from the current consist.

However, the Chicago-St. Louis coach had operated previously continues to be suspended.

The Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder will have four coaches, three sleepers, a dining car and a Sightseer lounge.

That is a net gain of one coach from the current consist but a loss of two sleepers from last summer.

The Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight will have two coaches, two sleepers, a dining car and Sightseer lounge.

That is two fewer sleepers than last summer. There will be no baggage car and the business class coach will not operate this year as it did in 2019.

It does represent an increase of one sleeper over the current consist.

The Auto Train will have four coaches, five sleepers, a dining car, a Sightseer lounge and a diner-lounge.

That is two fewer sleepers than the previous consist but a gain of one coach over the current consist.

The Heartland Flyer (Oklahoma City-Fort Worth, Texas) will have two coaches this summer  but otherwise operate as normal.

The New York-Rutland, Vermont, Ethan Allen will be operate as normal.

Southwest Chief Subject to Delay Due to Track Work

June 29, 2017

Track work being performed between Albuquerque and Lamy, New Mexico, is expected to delay Amtrak’s Southwest Chief through July 22.

In a service advisory, Amtrak No 3 may encounter delays of up to 2.5 hours at all stations west of Lamy while No. 4 may encounter delays of up to two hours east of Albuquerque.

The service advisory said that alternative transportation may be provided to passengers missing connections to Amtrak trains and Thruway buses at Kansas City, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Operating Issues Plague Amtrak Trains

May 3, 2017

Amtrak long distance trains serving the Midwest have been hit with a long list of woes that have caused service disruptions, detours and cancellations.

The Texas Eagle was forced to detour in southern Missouri after a washout on its route via the Union Pacific’s Iron Mountain Subdivision prompted a detour on the former Cotton Belt route between St. Louis and Polar Bluff, Missouri.

Consequently Nos. 21 and 22 missed the scheduled stop at Arcadia Valley, Missouri, and ran late, arriving in Chicago 11 hours late on Sunday.

The Southwest Chief was delayed by a spring snowstorm between Dodge City, Kansas, and Lamar, Colorado, on Sunday that led to No. 3 being more than 15 hours late arriving in Los Angeles.

BNSF personnel provided grade crossing protecting during whiteout conditions.

A head-on collision of two Canadian National trains at Money, Mississippi, on Sunday caused the City of New Orleans to be terminated en route.

Passengers were taken from bus from Memphis to New Orleans on Sunday and Monday.

Northbound passengers rode a bus from Jackson, Mississippi, to Memphis on both days.

A BNSF derailment on Monday led to the Empire Builder being detoured in both directions. Nos. 7 and 8 were expected to detour on Tuesday over a Union Pacific route between Spokane, Washington, and Sandpoint, Idaho.

Track Work Cancels Portland Section of Empire Builder

May 2, 2017

The Chicago-Portland section of the Empire Builder will be affected by BNSF track work in Washington State on Mondays and Tuesdays on May 8 and 9 and on June 5 and 6.

In a service advisory Amtrak said Nos. 27 and 28 will not operate between Portland and Pasco, Washington, and passengers will ride a bus to and from Bingen-White Salmon, Washington; Vancouver, Washington; and Portland.

Westbound passengers will disembark at Pasco, Washington, to board the bus. Eastbound passengers will ride the bus to Pasco and then board their train.

Nos. 27 and 28 will not be serving Wishram, Washington, on the affected dates and alternate transportation is not being provided.

All buses will serve the Amtrak stations in their respective cities and operate according to schedules of Nos. 27 and 28 at those points.

What Made the Coast Starlight Unique

March 10, 2017

In the Superliner era of Amtrak, the western long distant trains have all looked alike and offered pretty much the same service.

Over the years there have been a few tweaks, such as varying menu fare in the dining car by route, but otherwise there are no significant differences among the trains.

One exception has been the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight. During the 1990s a product line manager for Amtrak had former Santa Fe cars remodeled into the Pacific Parlour Cars that became the train’s signature service for sleeper class passengers.

In June 1999 I was at the Amtrak station in Sacramento, California, waiting for a excursion train to arrive that was being operated for members of the National Railway Historical Society. NRHS was holding its annual convention in Sacramento.

But the first order of business was the arrival of the southbound Coast Starlight. A few of us were standing near a doorway to the Pacific Parloir Car and we asked an Amtrak employee if we could go inside and take a look.

Sacramento is a service stop for Nos. 11 and 14 so we knew we had time. “Sure, come on up,” was the response.

So I got a glimpse inside something that made the Coast Starlight unique.

Amtrak Pausing The Empire Builder

March 10, 2017

After seeing its Empire Builder stuck in a snow bank for nearly 13 hours this week, Amtrak has said it will not operate two trips of Nos. 7 and 8 this week.

Buses will be substitute for the Empire Builder through Saturday between Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota.

East No. 8 became stuck in 25-foot snow bank about five miles west of Rugby, North Dakota, on Tuesday night.

It arrived in Chicago on Thursday 21 hours late. The westbound No. 7 that left Chicago on Tuesday was stuck east of Rugby at Leeds, North Dakota.

Amtrak trains also have been delayed this week by mudslides north of Seattle and freight train congestion.

No alternative transportation is being provided west of St. Paul on Friday or Saturday.

In the meantime, Amtrak needs time to get equipment and operating crews into position before it resumes full operation of Nos. 7 and 8.

CZ Resumes Operating Length of its Route

February 24, 2017

The northern California avalanche threat has subsided so Amtrak’s California Zephyr is back to operating the full length of its route between Chicago and Emeryville, California.

Nos. 5 and 6 had ceased operating early this week west of Reno due to the threat of avalanches on Donner Pass. No. 6 departed Emeryville on Thursday 3.5 hours late. No. 5 was running late as well.

CZ Still Suspended West of Reno

February 24, 2017

Amtrak has again suspended operation of its California Zephyr over a portion of its route due to avalanche threats in Northern California.

amtrak-california-zephyrNos. 5 and 6 are temporarily suspended between Reno, Nevada, and Emeryville, California, due to Union Pacific suspending operating on its Donner Pass line between Colfax and Truckee.

Westbound trains will terminate in Reno while eastbounds will originate there. Service remains unchanged between Chicago and Reno.

Some passengers will be transported by bus between Reno and Emeryville.

Route closures had forced UP to focus traffic on its Donner Pass route and led Amtrak to cancel operation of the California Zephyr west of Salt Lake City for more than a week and half.

CZ Resume Operating Full Length of Route

February 21, 2017

Amtrak’s California Zephyr is back in operation the length of its route after flooding washed out the Union Pacific route used by the train west of Salt Lake City.

amtrak-california-zephyrNos. 5 and 6 had been operating between Chicago and Salt Lake City for more than a week due to freight train congestion and weather related issues.

The congestion had been caused in part by freight traffic being diverted to the Donner Pass route used by Amtrak due to the Feather River Canyon route being knocked out of service following heavy rains.

The Feather River route, which once hosted the original California Zephyr in Western Pacific days, was still being repaired on Tuesday.

But both WP and Southern Pacific routes east of Winnemucca, Nevada are now open.