Posts Tagged ‘Beech Grove Shops’

Beech Grove Fire Appeared to be Intentional

May 8, 2021

Officials have determined that a fire that destroyed two storage sheds at Amtrak’s Beech Grove Heavy Maintenance Facility near Indianapolis appears to have been intentionally set.

James Pierce, operations chief for the Beech Grove Fire Department, said the two buildings that burned and collapsed were not connected.

“We’re very confident that this was an intentionally set fire. Everything points in that direction,”  he said.

The FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Amtrak police are among the agencies investigating.

Federal agencies are involved because of the government ownership of the facility. The fire destroyed structures used to store paint and cleaning supplies.

Amtrak Says Fire Won’t Affect Beech Grove Shop Operations

May 4, 2021

Amtrak said on Monday that a fire that destroyed two storage buildings at its Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis will not affect operations of the shop.

The Amtrak spokesman said no rolling stock or locomotives were damaged by the fire.

Firefighters had reported that they were unable to find a working fire hydrant at the shop site and had to run hoses to a nearby street.

However, the Amtrak spokesman said that while the hydrant on Amtrak property that was closest to the fire was dry, other hydrants at the site were operable.

Investigators continue to investigate the cause of the early Sunday morning fire that destroyed two corrugated structures used to store paint and cleaning supplies.

There were no injuries in the fire, which was reported just after 12:30 a.m. and brought under control by 2 a.m.

Fire Destroys Storage Buildings at Beech Grove

May 3, 2021

Two storage buildings at Amtrak’s Beech Grove Heavy Maintenance Facility in suburban Indianapolis were destroyed by fire on Sunday morning.

Firefighters were called just after 12:30 a.m. and had the blazes under control by 2 a.m. No injuries were reported and no cause of the fire has yet been released.

The corrugated buildings were used to store paint and cleaning supplies.

Lack of a working fire hydrant on the Amtrak property hindered firefighting efforts, forcing firefighters to run hoses from nearby Emerson Avenue and use tanker trucks for water supply.

Video of the scene shows P40 No. 822 in its Phase III livery parked outside the buildings where the fire occurred.

Waiting For Their Next Move

February 18, 2021

When Amtrak removed equipment from service it often moves it to its Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis. Such was the case with these Heritage Fleet cars that I found sitting at Beech Grove in March 1995. I was at “the Grove” as part of a tour sponsored by the then named Indiana Rail Passenger Association.

Beech Grove might have looked familiar to these cars as they had been inside the shops years earlier to be converted to Head End Power and to get new interior appointments.

Now they awaited being sold to another operator or, perhaps, donated to a museum. Imagine the thousands of people who rode in these cars to various points on the Amtrak network although as Heritage equipment their assignments were largely confined to the East, South and Midwest.

Talgos Sent to Beech Grove Shops

September 2, 2020

Two Talgo VI trainsets have been moved to Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops for storage.

Amtrak has not said what it plans to do with trainsets Mt. Hood and Mt. Olympus, which were removed from service following a December 2017 fatal derailment in DuPont, Washington.

The Talgos are owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation and were used for several years in Cascades Service between Vancouver, Washington, and Eugene Oregon.

The agency owns two other Talgo trainsets that remain in Washington State.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the 2017 derailment was critical of the design of the Talgos but manufacturer Talgo has disputed that portion of the conclusions of the NTSB report.

Like Two Trains in One

August 7, 2020

Amtrak’s westbound Cardinal is ferrying equipment from the Beech Grove shops to Chicago today and as a result No. 51 appears to be two trains in  one.

The front half of the train is P42DC No. 77 along with two Superliner cars and two Viewliner baggage cars.

Behind that is the normal consist of No. 51 of P42DC No. 205, two Amfleet II coaches, an Amfleet food service car, Viewliner sleeper and Viewlier baggage-dorm car.

The two trains were combined at Indianapolis Union Station.

The image was made on Aug. 6, 2020, at Cherry Grove, Indiana, on the CSX Monon Subdivision.

The stop sign is for a spur into a grain elevator out of view to the left.

Surplus Domes in Beech Grove

February 20, 2020

Dome cars were a fixture on most of Amtrak’s western long-distance trains through the late 1970s.

But as Superliner equipment began arriving in 1979 many of the dome cars were retired and sold to private owners.

A few domes were rebuilt as dome coaches for the Heritage Fleet and they operated on such trains as the City of New Orleans, Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

Domes on the latter operated only west of Albany, New York.

But the gradual retirement of the Heritage Fleet also meant the sidelining of its fleet of short domes.

The Capitol Limited and City of New Orleans lost their domes due to the trains being assigned Superliner equipment. Amfleet II coaches became the standard for the Lake Shore Limited.

Some of the surplus short domes are shown in March 1995 at the Beech Grove shops after being removed from service and awaiting sale to new owners.

Orphan Wisconsin Talgos May Find Home in Pacific NW

December 11, 2019

The Talgo equipment built for but never used in Amtrak service in Wisconsin was moved last week to Milwaukee from the Beech Grove Shops near Indianapolis.

Trains magazine reported that the equipment might be poised to be sent west for use in the Pacific Northwest.

The magazine said a Talgo spokesman said the company is working with Amtrak to prepare the equipment for service in the Amtrak Cascades corridor.

This includes the installation of positive train control and “features to align with the service provided in the Amtrak Cascades Corridor.”

The Talgo Series 8 train sets were built in 2012 in Milwaukee for use in Wisconsin-funded service to Madison that never materialized.

Trains said Amtrak released a statement saying that the Talgo equipment in question is being considered by the carrier for use in the Pacific Northwest.

The Wisconsin-built Talgos have been sitting at Beech Grove since 2014.

They were moved to Chicago on Friday, Dec. 6 over the route of the Cardinal between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Trains reported that the ferry move was hindered by freight train interference.

The Wisconsin Talgo train sets include three cab cars, three bistro cafes, three baggage-coach end cars and 22 coaches.

Although Talgo equipment has been used in Cascades service for years, it became the subject of controversy after a Talgo Series VI trainset was involved in a Dec. 18, 2017, derailment in DuPont, Washington, that left three dead.

A National Transportation Safety Board report concluded, among other things, that the design of the Talgo equipment played a role in the consequences of the wreck.

Talgo has disputed that and asked the NTSB to reconsider that finding.

In the meantime the Washington State Department of Transportation has said it wants all Talgo VI equipment removed from service as soon as possible, citing the NTSB report.

Amtrak is responsible for providing replacement equipment for the service.

The Trains report noted that a contract between Amtrak and Talgo has yet to be finalized and that the “interim” nature of the equipment use might be a point of contention.

The equipment would also need a waiver of Federal Railroad Administration crashworthy rules.

The State of Oregon, which also funds Cascades Service, plans to keep in service its two Talgo Series 8 train sets that it purchased in 2013.

The Trains report speculated that the Wisconsin Talgos will be reconfigured into two train sets with some equipment being kept for backup service as needed.

Branson Scenic Buys 3 Amtrak Cars

August 2, 2019

A Missouri tourist railroad has acquired three retired Amtrak cars.

The Branson Scenic Railway purchased Amtrak baggage cars 1204 and 1245, and dining car 8521.

All three cars are expected to be moved later this month from Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis.

Both baggage cars are of Santa Fe heritage and were built by Budd in 1953. The dining car was built by Budd in 1949 and used by the Southern Railway on is Crescent between Washington and New Orleans.

The diner was also assigned by the Southern to the Royal Palm, Southerner, and Tennessean,

Amtrak acquired it in 1979 when the Southern ceased operating its last passenger train, the Southern Crescent.

The diner was rebuilt by Amtrak to HEP capability in 1984 when it received its current roster number. It was overhauled in 2012 and retired from Amtrak revenue service in 2015.

Branson Scenic plans to rename the diner Silver Belle and used it as a backup diner for Branson’s dinner train and as a premium car for its Polar Express excursions.

The baggage will be used for parts and storage but one may become a power car.

The Branson Scenic uses tracks owned by Genesee & Wyoming’s Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad through the Ozark Mountains.

Trains operate on 40-mile round trips north or south of Branson.

Beech Grove Job Cuts May be Coming

April 26, 2019

In the wake of the Indiana legislature’s decision to cease funding the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State, Amtrak is hinting that it may lay off workers at its Beech Grove shops in suburban Indianapolis.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said 500 jobs at Beech Grove could be a risk if Amtrak is only able to shuttle equipment to and from the shops on the three days a week that the Cardinal operates through Indianapolis.

The Indiana General Assembly on the recommendation of Gov. Eric Holcomb declined to renew the $3 million annual funding the state has been providing to Amtrak to operate the Hoosier State four days a week.

The legislature finalized the budget for the next two years earlier this week.

The Cardinal operates three days a week between Chicago and New York and serves all stations at which the Hoosier State stops.

However, an Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman defended ending Hoosier State funding.

“The Hoosier State has the lowest ridership and highest taxpayer subsidy per ticket sold of all Amtrak state sponsored routes,” said Scott Manning. “Today, ridership is stagnant. As a result of the low number of users, INDOT and local governments subsidize about 75 percent of the cost of each ticket sold on the Hoosier State. This does not represent a good value to Hoosier taxpayers.”

State funding of the Hoosier State will end on June 30. The train also receives $500,000 annually contributed by communities that it serves.

Amtrak earlier announced the Hoosier State will be suspended on July 1.

WISH-TV in Indianapolis quoted Beech Grove employee Danny Groves as saying that once the Hoosier State ends much of the shop’s work load will go away.

“Beech Grove was built around this [rail] yard. We know each other’s wives. We know each other’s families,” Groves said. “If this happens we’ll only be able to get equipment in three days a week.”

More than 400 people signed a petition asking the legislature to reconsider its decision to end funding of the Hoosier State.

Amtrak has faced before the situation that it is poised to have if the Hoosier State is discontinued.

In September 1995, the Hoosier State was eliminated in a route restructuring, leaving the tri-weekly Cardinal as Amtrak’s only service to Indianapolis.

It ferried equipment to and from Beech Grove via the Cardinal, which has operated as a tri-weekly train since January 1982.

Amtrak has also used a weekly “hospital” trains to move equipment between Chicago and Beech Grove.

But that train was subject to delay on host railroad CSX and crews sometimes had to halt due to having reached their limits under the federal hours of service law.

Amtrak cited delays to the Cardinal from switching equipment in and out in Indianapolis for resurrecting the Hoosier State in July 1998.

One difference between then and now is that a federal law adopted since then now makes state and local governments responsible for paying most of the costs of trains operating less than 750 miles.

That law precludes Amtrak assuming full funding of the Hoosier State.

But Beech Grove’s future at Amtrak was already tenuous before the Indiana legislature declined to continue funding it.

During a Congressional hearing in February Amtrak President Richard Anderson said that although Amtrak had no plans to close Beech Grove or reduce its workforce, its role at Amtrak was subject to change.

“Over time, we have to re-fleet the Amtrak rolling stock,” Anderson said, “. . . and over the longer term we have to figure out where we are going to do our maintenance work. I think the footprint is going to change over time because we’re moving to more modern equipment.”