Posts Tagged ‘Boston section of Lake Shore Limited’

Options Shown for Pittsfield-NYC Service

April 18, 2018

A study has laid out three options for reviving intercity rail passenger service between Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and New York City.

One option is to use existing Amtrak Empire Service from New York Penn Station on Friday afternoons to Albany-Rensselaer, New York, with a new schedule to Pittsfield and on Sundays, doing the reverse.

Option two would involve a new schedule from New York to Pittsfield on Friday afternoon and back on Sunday afternoon.

The third option calls for building a connecting track between the CSX Berkshire Subdivision and its Schodack Subdivision, to connect the new train from the Amtrak Empire Line just north of Hudson, New York, to the line to Pittsfield.

This project would cost between $18 million and $36 million. This includes the need to install positive train control on freight-only tracks on the Berkshire Sub.

The connecting track would be more than a half-mile long and meet CSX’s standards for a curve at 40 mph, the same speed as the Schodack Subdivision.

The route would be 18 miles shorter than operating via Albany-Rensselaer and feature a running time 20 minutes shorter.

Most of this would be time saved from avoiding adding a locomotive and reversing the train at Albany-Rensselaer.

Depending on the option chosen, the proposed service would have a New York to Pittsfield running time of three-and-a-half to four hours.

The study of route options was conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation at the request of Massachusetts State Sen. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield.

Hinds has in mind a weekend service similar to the Boston to Cape Cod Cape Flyer.

The Pittsfield-New York train would not serve any stations in Connecticut.

With adequate funding and operational support from Amtrak and CSX, the service could begin in 2019 or 2020.

Pittsfield is currently served by the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

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Amtrak Acknowledges Plans to Suspend New York Section of Lake Shore Limited This Summer

April 11, 2018

Amtrak has acknowledged that rebuilding of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge in New York City will result in the cancellation of the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited this summer.

The bridge joins upper Manhattan with the Bronx over the north end of the East River.

During the bridge work, Amtrak will also rehabilitate the Empire Service tunnel that connects Penn Station with the West Side Line to the bridge.

Although Scot Naparstek, Amtrak’s chief operating officer, did not say during a conference call with news media when the work will be done, he indicated that through late May Amtrak is focusing on concrete demolition, wooden tie replacement and rail renewal for Track 18 used by the Long Island Rail Road at Penn Station.

One more of the three turnouts by Interlocking “C” at the east end of the station is still being rebuilt. Work on the first two are finished as is all work on Track 15.

Workers are scheduled to begin the summer program of renovations at Penn Station beginning May 26 and wrap up by Sept. 4.

Amtrak is developing new timetables for all Empire Service trains to be operated to Grand Central Terminal during the outage.

During the project, the Lake Shore Limited will operate between Chicago and Boston with no through cars to or from Chicago and New York.

Amtrak has been testing the use of cab cars on Empire Service trains. Last year when the passenger carrier diverted trains to Grand Central it placed locomotives on both ends of the trains.

The Spuyten Duyvil bridge was damaged by Hurricane Sandy although some of its problems have been the result of normal wear and tear.

The rebuilding of the bridge involves both mechanical and electrical work that Amtrak engineering has been looking at doing for quite a while.

As for the Empire Tunnel, Amtrak plans to replace crossties, grade crossings and 8,000 feet of continuous rail, including the track between the tunnel and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge.

Consultant Says Getting New Intercity Rail Passenger Service Takes Persistence

March 28, 2018

A consultant told those seeking rail passenger service from western Massachusetts to New York City that the process is all about finding money to fund the service.

“The list is long where there was no money,” said Vinay Mudholkar, an international transportation consultant. “There will be no railroad if you don’t push hard.”

Mudholkar said that advocates for the service must use finesse and tenacity in dealing with government bureaucrats and railroad companies.

“You have to have that fire in you — don’t say you don’t have the money,” he said during a public hearing in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The campaign to start the rail service is being headed by Karen Christensen, who is on a quest to restore intercity rail passenger service over the Housatonic Line between Grand Central Terminal in New York and Pittsfield.

The line lost passenger service in 1972 and is now operated for freight service by the Connecticut-based Housatonic Railroad

The State of Massachusetts has acquired 37 miles of track between Pittsfield and Canaan, Connecticut, with the idea of restoring passenger service.

But the project has lagged due to doubts about Connecticut’s ability to invest in track upgrades.

The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has estimated it could cost $200 million to rebuild the track between Pittsfield and Danbury, Connecticut.

Massachusetts transportation officials may use The Berkshire Flyer, a seasonal weekend line, as a pilot to test the New York-Pittsfield market.

That service would offer service from New York Penn Station to Pittsfield via Albany on Amtrak.

Some lawmakers also want to upgrade rail service between Boston and Pittsfield, which is current provided by on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.

Mudholkar said government officials need to act quickly and not let the existing rail fall apart.

He also urged building a working relationship with the freight rail company using the line. “Don’t create animosity,” he said.

Acknowledging that it won’t be easy, Mudholkar said getting money for rail service is never easy. “You’ve got to have that spirit,” he said. “It’s easy to say, ‘We can’t do anything.’ ”

New York Section of LSL Reportedly Will be Suspended During New York Penn Station Work This Summer

March 1, 2018

An online report said that Amtrak plans to return FL9 locomotives to service this summer and to temporarily drop the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited due to construction at New York Penn Station.

The report, which did not provide sources, said the FL9s are owned by the State of Connecticut and will be used as cab cars when some Empire Service trains begin using Grand Central Terminal.

The former New Haven locomotives are needed because for emergencies there must be an exit from a train in the Park Avenue Tunnel. Side doors cannot be used on outside tracks so passengers would need to be evacuated through the rear door

However, Amtrak’s P32AC-DMs locomotives lack a nose door. Therefore, the FL9s will be used to lead trains into Grand Central. The trains will be turned there so that the FL9s will lead at all times.

The report said the FL9s will need to be rebuilt at the Amtrak shops in Rensselaer, New York, for cab car use.

Metro-North P32AC-DM engines are able to use the Park Avenue tunnel because they were built with nose doors.

The planned consists of trains using Grand Central will be a cab car or non-powered FL9 leading; an unoccupied Amtrak P32AC-DM to provide traction and head-end power, and the train’s passenger cars.

During this period the Lake Shore Limited will continue to operate between Chicago and Boston.

CSX to Keep Route of Boston Section of LSL

January 30, 2018

CSX plans to retain ownership of a route in Massachusetts used by the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

“I can definitively say that this line is not for sale,” a CSX spokesman told the Albany (New York) Times Union.

The comment came following a report on the website of Trains magazine that the former Boston & Albany line between Albany and Worcester, Massachusetts, was among several that the railroad was considering selling or leasing.

CSX has acknowledged launching a review of its route network “to be sure our assets are maximized for efficiency and add value to the company’s long-term business needs,” the spokesman told the Times-Union.

The Trains report had reported that up to 8,000 miles could be sold or leased, but indicated that it was unlikely that not all routes said to be under review would be ditched by the Class 1 railroad.

New York-Pittsfield Rail Service Studied

December 12, 2017

A study of rail service between New York City and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is underway.

The proposal would have trains use Amtrak’s Empire Corridor from New York to Rensselaer, New York, and then reverse direction and travel to Pittsfield via a CSX route now used by the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

This route would be unlikely to require any significant additional investment in new track, signals or land purchases on the Amtrak-owned segments.

However, facilities will be needed in Pittsfield for overnight storage and servicing of equipment.

Eddie Sporn, a West Stockbridge resident who heads real estate and planning firm Robin Road Consulting, said another option that would avoid running through Rensselaer is being eyes, but the Rensselaer option appears to be the favored.

Track Work to Disrupt LSL Boston Section

September 30, 2017

Track work being performed by CSX will affect operations of the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited between Oct. 1 and 27.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the work will affect Trains 448 and 449, on the dates indicated below:

Train 448 will not operate on Sundays through Thursdays while Train 449 will be affected on Monday through Friday.

Passengers on Train 448 who are traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester, Framingham, and Boston (South Station) will get off the train at Albany on the Sunday through Thursday where they will board a bus to complete their journey to their destination.

On the weekdays indicated above, Train 449 will not operate between Boston (South Station) and Albany. Passengers boarding at Boston (South Station), Framingham, Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield will travel by bus to Albany, where they will transfer to westbound Train 49, making all remaining stops on the route.

During this period, Trains 448 and 449 will not stop at Boston Back Bay, and bus service will not be provided.

Passengers can take MBTA commuter rail for travel to or from Boston South Station. Train 448 customers can also take the MBTA subway Orange Line to Downtown Crossing and transfer to the Red line to Boston South Station. Train 449 customers can use reverse directions.

Passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

Passengers at Framingham will board all buses at the drop-off/pick-up area at the Track 2 platform (at Waverly Street).

The Worcester station is not staffed so passengers should check with station security personnel for the location to board the bus, which is being provided by Premier Bus Lines.

Bus Replacing Boston Section of LSL for Track Work

September 21, 2017

The Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited will be affected on select dates Sept. 15-25 due to track work being performed by Keolis/MBTA.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers on Train 48 who are traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester, Framingham, and Boston (South Station) will get off the train at Albany on the dates below and travel by bus to and from all stations, except Boston Back Bay.

  • Friday, Sept. 15 through Saturday, Sunday, Sept. 17
  • Friday, Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 24

Train 449 will not operate between Boston (South Station) and Albany on the dates below. Passengers boarding at Boston (South Station), Framingham, Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield will be provided bus service to Albany, where they will transfer to westbound Train 49 to their destination.

  • Saturday, Sept.  16 through Monday, Sept.  18
  • Saturday, Sept.  23 through Monday, Sept.  25

Service at Boston Back Bay station is cancelled and bus service will not be provided. Passengers for Back Bay can contact MBTA for travel to and from Boston Back Bay.

Passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

Passengers at Framingham, will board all buses at the drop-off/pick-up area track 2 platform (at Waverly Street)

Passengers at Worcester should go downstairs to the intercity bus area and board the bus marked Premier Bus.

LSL Boston Section Faces Service Disruptions

June 29, 2017

CSX track work will disrupt the operations of the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited through July 27,

Passengers traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester, Framingham and Boston (South Station) will take a bus from the Albany-Rensselaer station on the following dates:

  • June 24-29
  • July 8-13
  • July 26-27

Train 449 will not operate between Boston (South Station) and Albany on the following dates with passengers being bused from Boston (South Station), Framingham, Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield.

  • June 25-29
  • July 9-13
  • July 27, 2017

No alternative transportation will be provided to Boston Back Bay. Passengers are urged to contact MBTA for travel to and from Boston Back Bay.

Passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses while Framingham passengers will board buses at the drop-off/pick-up area track 2 platform (at Waverly Street).

In Worcester, passengers should go downstairs to the intercity bus area and board the bus marked Premier Bus.

Springfield Union Station to Reopen in June

March 27, 2017

Springfield (Massachusetts) Union Station will reopen on June 24 to serve Amtrak and offer restaurant and shops.

The depot was closed in 1974 but restored as part of a $95 million project that left many of its original features intact.

The station opened in 1926 and hosts the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited, the Vermonter and several Northeast Regional trains.

Congressman Richard E. Neal, who help lead the restoration effort, said during a news media tour that the revitalized station should help increase Amtrak ridership and spur further commercial development.

During the restoration, the station’s terrazzo floors were restored, a new roof was installed, period light fixtures were put into place and eight murals depicting Springfield’s history were hung. A clock was placed in the grand concourse.

“I kicked off my political career here 40 years ago, so [the station] still has great meaning to me and the people of Springfield,” said Neal. “Restoring this station can make Springfield a transportation and commercial center, as well as do a lot of good.”