Posts Tagged ‘City of New Orleans’

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.

CONO Route Shortened due to Flood Control

April 7, 2020

Flood control has again resulted in Amtrak’s City of New Orleans stopping short of its namesake city.

Nos. 58 and 59 are now originating and terminating in McComb, Mississippi, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened portions of the Bonnett Carre Spillway amid rising water in the Mississippi River.

Host railroad Canadian National won’t allow Amtrak to operate the City as far south as Hammond, Louisiana, and has also prohibited Nos. 58 and 59 from stopping in the Mississippi towns of Brookhaven and Hazelhurst.

In past years when the spillway was open, Amtrak passengers transferred to buses at either Hammond or Jackson, Mississippi.

CN in an emailed statement made to Trains magazine would not elaborate on why Nos. 58 and 59 are being prohibited from stopping in Hazlehurst or Brookhaven, both of which are normal stops for the train.

The statement primarily said that when the spillway is opened it does not allow Amtrak to operate with passengers across the spillway bridge for safety reasons.

CN said in the statement that it is planning to build a new bridge over the spillway that will alleviate the issue of Amtrak not being able to cross it when flood control measures are underway.

The current bridge is a wood trestle. Opening the Bonnett Carre Spillway is done to keep flood waters away from New Orleans levees.

The equipment used on Nos. 58 and 59 will continue from McComb to New Orleans empty so it can be serviced.

Although CN said work has begun on the new bridge, Trains quoted eye witness reports from Louisiana as saying that little apparent work had been done.

CN declined to provide Trains with a timeline for when the new bridge will be completed.

The spillway, which allows water to flow into Lake Ponchartrain, has been opened 15 times since it was completed in 1937 and four of those openings have occurred in the past three years including in 2019.

Dining on the City of New Orleans

March 26, 2020

There have been times when Amtrak sought to give the dining cars on its long-distance trains a touch of the cuisine associated with a region served by the route.

In the case of the City of New Orleans that meant food associated with the Crescent City.

But more often than not, the dining car fare on the CONO was the same as it was elsewhere.

Shown is the menu that was in use in 2012. Although not obvious from the dinner entrees shown inside, the diner on a March night that I was traveling from New Orleans to Chicago did feature a catfish dinner that would be similar to one you might find on a menu in a New Orleans restaurant.

And I can say it was tasty and enjoyable.

One Morning in Memphis

January 9, 2020

We were en route to New Orleans aboard the City of New Orleans in March 2011 when No. 59 halted in Memphis for its scheduled stop.

Memphis is a crew change point and 23 minutes is allotted for the stop.

It was pleasant spring morning and trees at the station were blooming.

That was quite a contrast with what we had seen as the Capitol Limited had left Cleveland the previous morning during a snowstorm.

There was enough time to disembark, stretch our legs and snap a few photographs, including the head end with a few of those flowering trees.

No. 59 had a consist on this day that as a little out of the ordinary. There were two P42DC locomotives pulling the train rather than the usual one.

There also was a baggage car, which is not always assigned to Nos. 58 and 59. Instead, checked luggage typically rides in a baggage compartment of a Superliner coach.

Soon it was time to get back on board and continue on to the Crescent City for a spring vacation.

CONO Resumes Running to New Orleans

August 6, 2019

Operating as train 1158 for one day only, the northbound City of New Orleans passes through Pesotum, Illinois, en route to Chicago. The train at the time was 40 minutes late.

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans resumed operating between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi, on July 30.

Nos. 58 and 59 had been originating and terminating in Jackson for several weeks due to flooding in the lower Mississippi River valley that closed the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

During that time passengers rode a chartered bus south of Jackson.

However, track work by host railroad Canadian National has Nos. 58 and 59 originating and terminating this week in Memphis, Tennessee, through Aug. 8

In a service advisory, Amtrak said alternate transportation will be provided between Memphis and Jackson, but there will be no alternate transportation to the missed station stops of Marks, Greenwood or Yazoo City in Mississippi.

Getting a Better View

October 19, 2018

An Amtrak car attendant perches on the step box as he looks down the platform at Jackson, Mississippi, during a station stop for the northbound City of New Orleans.

Jackson is one of the busiest stops for Nos. 58 and 59, but most of the passengers in the distance are boarding one of the coaches and not holding sleeping car tickets.

 

Gotta Go to Work

September 18, 2018

An Amtrak locomotive engineer climbs the steps to a P42DC locomotive in Memphis to go to work aboard the northbound City of New Orleans.

He will take No. 58 to Carbondale, Illinois, where another engineer will go on duty to finish the journey into Chicago.

CONO Sked Change Delayed

April 5, 2018

Amtrak has delayed a temporary schedule change for its City of New Orleans until April 13.

The change, which is expected to extend through early May, will provide a daytime work window for Canadian National to rebuild segments of the train’s route.

Nos. 58 and 59 will operate three hours earlier, a change that Amtrak originally said would begin on April 4. Notices of the schedule change were posted in stations and on the Amtrak website.

However, not all of those notices have been changed to reflect the delay in the schedule change.

Under the temporary schedules, No. 58 will depart New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal at 10:45 a.m. versus the regularly 1:45 p.m. departure time. That will put No. 58 into Chicago at 6 a.m.

No. 59 will leave Chicago at 5:20 p.m. instead of its regular 8:05 p.m. departure. It will arrive in New Orleans at 12:47 p.m.

This will mean No. 59 will operate less than two hours behind the Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, Illini, which is funded by the State of Illinois. No. 393 is scheduled to depart Chicago at 4:05 p.m.

Much of the schedule change is oriented toward accommodating CN track work on its Yazoo Subdivision south of Greenwood, Mississippi.

However, some work is also being done in Southern Illinois, which will temporarily affect the schedule of the northbound Illini, causing it to operate 30 minutes later Monday through Friday.

The temporary schedules on the Chicago-Carbondale-New Orleans line are in effect through May 4.

CN has said it would be most cost-effective to conduct the track work during daylight hours because that would avoid the necessity of paying overtime to workers and the cost of lights for nighttime work.

By contract Amtrak must make adjustments for maintenance of way windows that affect its trains.

CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said “the work block duration for the track work on that subdivision across Northern Mississippi has been shortened, thus delaying the change in the schedule.”

He did not explain why the work window has been shortened.

Boarding CONO in New Orleans

March 16, 2018

The first call for boarding of Amtrak No. 58, the City of New Orleans, has been made at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal and the sleeper class passengers are the first allowed onto the platform to board their train.

They will shortly be in their assigned rooms, which are in the last car on the train today.

Further down the platform, station workers are stocking the dining and lounge cars. The first meal to be served will be dinner with initial seating coming somewhere in Mississippi. Passengers will watch the Illinois prairie roll by as they have breakfast the next morning.

Track Work to Affect NB Illini, NB CONO

March 16, 2018

On Monday through Friday of each week starting March 22 and extending through May 4, Amtrak’s northbound Illini will operate 30 minutes later at all stations en route due to track work being performed by Canadian National. Train 392 will operate on its normal schedule on Saturdays and Sundays.

Although it has not yet been announced, CN track work will also affect the schedule of the northbound City of New Orleans starting April 4.

No. 58 will begin departing New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal at 10:45 a.m., which is three hours earlier than the normal schedule. The train will be scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 6 a.m.

The revised scheduled will remain in effect through May 8 with the normal schedule resuming the next day.