Posts Tagged ‘BNSF’

Amtrak Conductor Shot in Naperville

May 18, 2017

A conductor working Amtrak’s Southwest Chief was hospitalized on Tuesday with non-life threatening injuries after he was shot on the platform at Naperville, Illinois.

The incident occurred in late afternoon and police were still seeking a motive for the shooting.

News accounts indicated that a Wisconsin man in his 70s was taken into custody in connection with the incident after being tackled and held by passengers.

The man was aboard the train when the shooting occurred.

“The conductor had stepped off the train when the suspect reached through the window and shot him,” said Naperville Police Commander Lou Cammiso.

BNSF and Metra rail traffic was halted at the station while police investigated the crime and passengers aboard the train were put on buses.

 

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.

Lawrence Expects to Take Ownership of Station

May 2, 2017

The Lawrence, Kansas, city commission will review today an agreement with BNSF that would give the city ownership and control of the Amtrak station later this year.

City officials said BNSF has decided to give up its stake in the former Santa Fe depot and property on which it sits.

The commission had earlier approved a pace with the railroad regarding station ownership.

“It’s very good for us, because we will have significant investment in the building itself and also in the site,” said Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard. “And for us to be able to control it at the local level long term will be to our advantage.”

The station, which is served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief, was built in the 1950s and has received minimal maintenance in recent years.

Lawrence will use a $1.2 million state transportation grant to renovate the building. The city’s contribution is expected to be $160,000.

Under the agreement being considered by the city, BNSF will donate the depot and land to the city. An earlier agreement by which BNSF would lease back or repurchase the station has been dropped.

BNSF officials said that they dropped their demands for a lease back or repurchase clause in order to simply the negotiations.

However, Stoddard said those changes in BNSF’s stance came from the CEO-level of the railroad.

“Donating the land with the building allowed us to streamline the transfer process,” said BNSF Public Affairs Director Andy Williams, adding that the railroad doesn’t anticipate needing the station in the future.

Stoddard also said the elimination of the lease-back provision means the station will be able to be used for various uses during daytime hours when Amtrak is not using it.

“With that no longer in play, it does provide a host of options for the city to consider with regard to the use of the building into the future,” Stoddard said. “Those things will need to be determined over time.”

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.

13 Hours Later No. 8 Freed from Snow Bank

March 9, 2017

It took four tries, but an eastbound Empire Builder finally managed to work its way out of a snow drift that had marooned the train and its 111 passengers for nearly 13 hours in North Dakota.

The 25-foot high snow bank stopped No. 8 dead in its tracks five miles west of Rugby at about 7 a.m. on Wednesday.

Westbound No. 7 was delayed 35 miles to the east with 96 passengers aboard.

No. 8 was finally on the move again after BNSF personnel inspected it and determined that it had not suffered any damage.

Railroad personnel used snowplows, skid-steer loaders and freight train engines trying to pull out the Amtrak train from behind. But none of those methods worked.

Thirty workers then dug the train out by hand, removing snow from beneath and between the Superliner cars.

A passenger aboard the stranded train, Miranda Fenner, said the train had power and the cafe and lounge were open so food was available. But many passengers spent the time sleeping.

No. 8 was already running seven hours late due to the weather had left Minot, North Dakota at 6 a.m. Wednesday rather than the scheduled 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Norman to Become Locomotive Horn Quiet Zone

February 16, 2017

Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer will be making less noise as it passes through Norman, Oklahoma, starting Friday.

Heartland FlyerThe city has adopted an ordinance that will result in Amtrak and BNSF trains gradually decreasing the use of locomotive horns.

Eventually, Norman will become a quiet zone although locomotive engineers will be permitted to sound the horn for safety reasons.

The city has installed median barriers and warning signs at grade crossing as required by federal law in order to qualify as a quiet zone for locomotive horns.

Norman, the hometown of the University of Oklahoma, has been working since 2015 to establish itself as a quiet zone.

Lawrence May Take Ownership of Amtrak Station

February 14, 2017

The City of Lawrence, Kansas, is taking steps that may result in its purchase of the town’s Amtrak station.

Lawrence may acquire the former Santa Fe station from BNSF and then launch a $1.5 million restoration project.

Amtrak Southwest Chief 2City officials have said the depot has received limited maintenance and if the city buys the station it could use a $1.2 million state grant to pay for the renovations.

It would not cost the city anything to take ownership of the station, which the city would then lease to Amtrak.

The national passenger carrier would then be able to providing funding to bring the station into compliance with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Although no time frame has been established, the city could take control of the depot this summer.

Lawrence is on the route of the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

Avalanches Halt Empire Builder Again

February 10, 2017

Shortly after it was reopened, the route of Amtrak’s Empire Builder was closed again.

BNSF said that avalanches in Glacier National park closed its Hi Line near Essex.

Amtrak Empire BuilderThe closure came less than 48 hours after the railroad had reopened the line following avalanches that blocks the tracks at Marias Pass.

Railroad officials said warmer temperatures were a factor in causing avalanches because they were creating layers of unstable snow.

Thursday’s westbound Empire Builder was held overnight at St. Paul Union Depot and passengers bound for points between St. Paul and Minot, North Dakota, were taken to their destination buy bus.

Passengers going beyond Minot were to remain on the train. Amtrak said those passengers will be given a refund and taken back to Chicago on Friday.

Two other sections of the Chicago-Seattle/Portland train were to spend the night Thursday in Montana. This includes an eastbound and a westbound section.

Landslides in Washington State resulted in the cancellation of Amtrak’s Cascades service between Seattle and Portland until Saturday.

Also canceled is the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight.

Empire Builder to Resume Full Operation

February 8, 2017

Amtrak’s Empire Builder has resumed operating the length of its route between Chicago and Seattle/Portland after BNSF crews cleared an avalanche blocking Marias Pass in Montana.

Amtrak Empire BuilderThe pass was reopened on Tuesday night after being closed on Sunday.

Some sections of the Empire Builder had been turned back and the train was canceled west of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Nos. 7 and 8 had continued to operate between Chicago and St. Paul.

The avalanche that halted rail traffic came during a blizzard that dumped 51 inches of snow at East Glacier National Park. The area has been called “Avalanche Alley” by railroaders.

SW Chief to Benefit from BNSF Track Work in Kansas

January 26, 2017

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief will benefit from planned capital expenditures planned for its route in Kansas in 2017

Amtrak Southwest Chief 2BNSF said it will spend $125 million in the Sunflower State, most of it on rails used by the Chicago-Los Angeles train.

BNSF spokesman Andy Williams said the work will include replacing ties, laying new rail and adding ballast.

The work will be undertaken between Emporia and Topeka, and between Newton and Garden City.

Earlier track work done in western Kansas was instrumental in helping to keep the Chief on its present route. That work was funded largely with federal TIGER grants.