Posts Tagged ‘Bonnet Carre spillway’

CONO Back to Running Full Route

May 6, 2020

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans has resumed operating its full route between Chicago and New Orleans.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has closed the Bonnet Carre Spillway whose opening earlier for flood control had led to Nos. 58 and 59 being operated between Chicago and McComb, Mississippi.

Passengers had been taken by bus to and from New Orleans.

Host railroad Canadian National by policy prohibits Amtrak operating over the spillway with passengers aboard whenever it is open.

Flash Fare Sale Publicizes Return of CONO to NOLA

August 27, 2019

As a way of marking the restoration of Amtrak’s City of New Orleans to operation the full length of its route, the passenger carrier has launched a buy-one, get one fare sale.

Nos. 58 and 59 have been terminating and originating in Jackson, Mississippi, for much of the time since May when flooding closed the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in April opened the spillway to prevent Mississippi River flooding in New Orleans.

Generally, when that happens, host railroad Canadian National bans Amtrak from using the spillway.

Also disrupting the operations of the City of New Orleans was CN track work, which for a week in late July and early August had the train operating two hours later than its normal schedule, and then originating and terminating in Memphis for another week.

CN and Amtrak have a standing agreement that trains can only deadhead with employees until the aging trestle on the spillway is rebuilt when the spillway is opened.

However, CN also denied Amtrak permission to use a wye to turn the train at Hammond, Louisiana, which is 50 miles closer to New Orleans.

During the track work and spillway opening passengers rode chartered buses between Jackson and New Orleans.

As for the fare sale, tickets must be purchased by Aug. 31 and travel completed by the end of September.

Trains magazine noted that the flash sale for the City was one of the few Amtrak has held that is route specific in recent years.

Similar sales have been nationwide aside from a those limited to the Auto Train or conducted in cooperation with states that fund Amtrak corridor routes.

The focus on the City of New Orleans is an effort to attract attention to the fact the train is once again serving both endpoint cities and to address a ridership drop during the months of schedule disruptions.

Trains said that sleeping car revenue had been flat for the first half of fiscal year 2019, but dropped by 16 percent in May, 29 percent in June, and 36 percent in July compared with the corresponding months of 2018.

The represented lost revenue represented of almost $500,000 for those three months.

“We knew we had to develop a plan to counter the idea that there were only buses south of Jackson,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.

The Southern Rail Commission has sought to help Amtrak publicize the fare sale by appearing in local news media reports in the South.

“It was important for us to get some earned media to publicize the sale,” Magliari said.

Amtrak awarded special recognition pins to on-board and station employees for their service during a difficult situation.

CN Won’t Allow Amtrak to Extend Nos. 58/59

June 3, 2019

Amtrak has been pressing Canadian National without success to allow the City of New Orleans to operate as far south as Hammond, Louisiana, or Macomb, Mississippi.

For a few weeks Nos. 58 and 59 have been operating between Chicago and Jackson, Mississippi, after CN banned operation of the train over the Bonnet Carre Spillway near New Orleans.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway in an effort to mitigate the effects of flooding in the region.

However, CN freight trains have continued to operate over the spillway. This is not the first time that CN has not allowed Amtrak trains to operate over the spillway while it was open.

While the spillway is open Amtrak passengers bound for points south of Jackson have been riding a chartered bus.

The Rail Passengers Association said it has learned CN has denied Amtrak requests to allow the City of New Orleans to operate farther south.

However, the railroad has apparently agreed to allow Amtrak to operate the City to New Orleans and across the spillway if no passengers were on board.

Although CN has cited safety concerns for its not allowing the City to operate with passengers over the spillway while it is open, RPA speculated CN”s behavior might be rooted in negative public attention that it has received following Amtrak’s posting of report cars on its website in which it grades host railroads on their on-time performance.

RPA noted that CN received a D- on the latest report card.

In a service advisory posted on the Amtrak website, the carrier said the use of buses between Jackson and New Orleans would continue “until further notice.”

CONO Passengers Riding Bus Due to Flooding

March 3, 2019

Passengers aboard Amtrak’s City of New Orleans are riding buses between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi, after host railroad Canadian Railroad closed the route due to flooding.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the busing will continue until further notice and that rail service will resume as soon as possible.

The buses will stop at the affected intermediate stations of, Hazlehurst, Brookhaven and McComb in Mississippi, and Hammond, Louisiana.

Northbound passengers are being asked to arrive at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal by 12:15 p.m. to board the buses, which will depart at 1 p.m.

No. 58 is scheduled to depart New Orleans at 1:45 p.m.

The City continues to operate normally between Chicago and Jackson with the equipment from No. 59 turning at Jackson to make up No. 58 on the same day.

It is the third time in the past four years that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has opened floodgates on the Bonnet Carre Spillway south of Hammond to enable waters from the Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain.

CN crosses the spillway on a wood trestle and has closed the bridge as a precaution against times when open floodgates release heavy flows of water.

The Mississippi River isn’t expected to crest until mid-March due to extensive snow melt from the north.

With the Corps of Engineers planning to open more spillway gates, the busing of passengers for Nos. 58 and 59 could continue for some time.

In previous years Amtrak has turned the City at Hammond, but has chosen Jackson because it saves operating costs from not having to pay a crew to operate the train between Jackson and Hammond.

CONO Canceled in South Due to Flooding

March 16, 2018

Flooding in the South has resulted in Amtrak’s City of New Orleans being canceled between Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said host railroad Canadian National has closed the route. An unconfirmed online report attributed the flooding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opening the Bonnet Carré spillway, which expected to be open for 20 or more days.

When the spillway is open Amtrak trains are not permitted to cross its wooden trestle at the edge of Lake Pontchartrain.

Chartered buses are being provided between Jackson and New Orleans. Amtrak did not say when the route would reopen, only noting it would be as soon as possible.

Affected are passengers traveling to the intermediate stations of Hazlehurst, Brookhaven and McComb in Mississippi, and Hammond, Louisiana.

Passengers traveling north from New Orleans are asked to arrive at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal by 12:15  p.m. to board the buses. No. 58 normally depats NOUPT at 1:45 p.m.