Posts Tagged ‘CSX’

Second Track Opens on Amtrak Empire Corridor

July 14, 2017

Work to install a second track on a CSX route in New York State heavily used by Amtrak has been completed.

The $91.2 million project involved building the second track between Schenectady and Albany in order to eliminate a bottleneck that often delayed Amtrak trains on a 17-mile stretch of single track.

The track went into service on June 26 to conclude a three-year project.

Some trains waited as long as 20 minutes in Schenectady or Rensselaer for opposing traffic to clear.

The track had been removed when the rails were owned by Penn Central.

Overseeing the project were the New York State Department of Transportation, Amtrak and CSX.

In a related development, New York officials released design details for a new $23 million Amtrak station in Schenectady. The station is expected to be completed in late 2018.

The design will feature a wraparound awning outside the building, a weather vane in the shape of New York state on top of a gold dome on the roof, and over-sized arched windows similar in design to those of the 1910-era Union station that once sat at the site.

Earlier this year, Amtrak finished work to improve its station serving Albany-Rensselaer.

That $50.5 million project involved construction of a fourth passenger loading track, extending the loading platforms and upgrading block signals.

Much of that work will benefit the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, which splits at the Albany-Rensselaer station.

Still to be completed is a $3.5 million state-funded project to rebuild platform elevators and replace the escalators.

Other work that remains in the Empire Corridor includes making grade crossing and signal improvements south of Rensselaer on the route to New York City.

Most of the funding for the work in the Capitol Region of New York came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Federal Railroad Administration in a separate allotment had granted New York $33 million to be used to install positive train control technology between Poughkeepsie and Schenectady.

CSX Disputes SRC Comments on Gulf Coast Service

June 21, 2017

CSX has taken issue with comments made by a member of the Southern Rail Commission that it has increased the amount of money needed for capital improvements to restore Amtrak service to the Gulf Coast.

Commission member Jerry Gehman said that since E. Hunter Harrison became CEO of the railroad that it has demanded a $2.3 billion investment to restore passenger service east of New Orleans.

Gehman contended that the railroad had agreed to a lower sum in negotiations held before Harrison became CEO.

“The truth is that, according to a study that the Federal Railroad Administration co-sponsored in 2016, a minimum investment of more than $2 billion is required to create the infrastructure needed to safely support the desired service, and even at that level of spending it may not be possible to meet customers’ expectations and federal laws that require minimum on-time performance by passenger service,” CSX said in a statement.

The statement said the figure was arrived at by the engineering consulting firm of HDR Inc. working with the FRA and CSX to analyze what it would take to initiate Amtrak service between New Orleans and Sanford, Florida.

CSX said that the cost included additional track, signals, bridges and other improvements, including meeting new federal laws requiring positive train control and on-time performance.

“Those facts have been available to the Gulf Coast Working Group since August 2016, and have been consistently communicated and discussed in letters and monthly meetings with the FRA and other stakeholders since then,” CSX said. “At no time has CSX reached any agreement with the Gulf Coast Working Group about the cost at which new or modified service could be provided, so assertions that CSX recently changed its position are inaccurate.”

In its statement, CSX contended that even with a $2 billion investment, computer models suggest that passenger trains operating on the Gulf Coast route would not be able to achieve federally mandated on-time performance standards

“Without the much-needed additional tracks and other capacity improvements and due in part to the fact that the route includes 17 drawbridges where maritime traffic has priority over rail traffic, the new service would not meet customer expectations nor federal regulations,” CSX said. “Failing to meet that standard would expose CSX to uncapped penalties and unhappy passengers; CSX, as a responsible public company, is unwilling to support the initiation of a service that is impossible to provide in compliance with federal law.”

Caretaker for Maysville Station Still Open Question

June 7, 2017

Renovations of the Amtrak station in Maysville, Kentucky, are underway, but the question of a caretaker for the depot remains open.

Amtrak is spending more than $500,000 to renovate the station, which is a stop on the route of the Chicago-New York Cardinal.

The improvements will make the station ADA-compliant as well as improve sidewalks, signs, the restrooms and the parking lot.

However, Amtrak wants another organization to take over the task of providing a caretaker and maintaining the station.

Specifically, the passenger carrier wants the city to buy the station, a request that has been spurned by city commissioners. The station is currently owned by CSX.

“We don’t want to [own the building], but if it’s a stipulation of the grant we may have to,” City Manager Matt Wallingford says. Instead, the city is hoping to lease the station rather than buy it.

The city is amendable, though, to working with CSX and Amtrak to provide janitorial services as well as a caretaker service.

Maysville officials are also talking about making other improvements to the station to give it better aesthetic appeal.

That work would use $860,000 in federal grant money with city providing a 20 percent match.

Maysville is located about 65 miles southeast of Cincinnati and is along the former Chesapeake & Ohio mainline.

CSX Track Work Affects Richmond Service

June 2, 2017

Amtrak said there will be temporary service cancellations through June 7 in the Richmond, Virginia, area due to CSX track work.

One track will be out of service 24 hours a day and another track will be closed between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said train service will be canceled on segments of the route as described below and alternate transportation will not be provided. Customers can contact Amtrak for alternate train service options.

  • Trains 65, 66 and 67, which normally operate between Newport News and Boston, will operate between Washington and Boston only. Trains will not operate between Newport News and Washington.
  • Trains 82 and 174, which normally operate between Richmond and Boston, will operate between Washington and Boston only. Trains will not operate between Richmond and Washington.
  • Trains 85 and 87, which normally operate between New York and Richmond, will operate between New York and Washington only. Trains will not operate between Washington and Richmond.
  • Trains 89 and 90, which normally operate between New York and Savannah, will operate between New York and Washington only. Trains will not operate between Washington and Savannah, and alternate transportation will not be provided.
  • Schedule Change: Trains 94, 96 and 194, which operate between Newport News and Boston, will depart Newport News at 7:40 am, one hour and twenty minutes earlier than the normal schedule, and operate one hour and twenty minutes earlier at all remaining stations on the route.

Other trains not listed above may be delayed for up to 90 minutes arriving at and departing from Richmond.

Officials Optimistic About Gulf Rail Restoration

April 13, 2017

Amtrak and members of the Southern Rail Commission are expressing optimism that intercity rail service will be restored to the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans.

During a meeting in Mobile, Alabama, they said that efforts to restore Amtrak service lost in August 2005 following Hurricane Katrina are close to being realized despite the proposal by the Trump administration to gut funding for Amtrak’s long-distance trains.

“When we look at the situation of where we are, we are closer now than we have ever been over the course of the last 12 years,” said Thomas Stennis III, Amtrak’s director of government affairs south.

Stennis urged residents of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida to ask their respective members of Congress to reject President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. “I cannot urge that enough,” he said.

Although neither Amtrak nor the Commission has provided any details about how the service would be funded or when it might be restored, Stennis said that Amtrak CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman supports the restoration of service to the line once served by the Sunset Limited.

Nos. 1 and 2 continue to operate tri-weekly between New Orleans and Los Angeles.

One proposal to serve the Gulf Coast has the daily City of New Orleans operating east of its namesake city.

During a meeting in Mobile, officials estimated that 154,000 passengers would use the proposed New Orleans to Mobile segment annually.

Knox Ross, a Mississippi Commissioner of the SRC, said that negotiations with CSX, which owns the rail line that would be used have been difficult.

“We are working very hard to come up with a number,” said Knox. “It’s a hard negotiation because we are working on their railroad and they own it and they wanna make money.”

Knox said Amtrak matched the $125,000 appropriated by the City of Mobile to carry out necessary upgrades to its station.

He said similar deals could be worked out with other cities along the Gulf Coast city stations that require upgrades, said Knox.

Empire Service Skeds Modified for CSX Track Work

April 5, 2017

Some Empire Service trains will operate on modified schedules between April 9 and Sept. 4 due to CSX track work.

In a service advisory, Amtrak did not identify the trains affected but said that some trains will depart as much as 25 minutes early.

Between April 9 and May 10, Amtrak said two Empire Service trains will operate between Niagara Falls and Albany-Rensselaer, New York, on Sunday through Wednesday.

Three Empire Service trains will operate between those points on Thursday through Saturday.

Amtrak said that schedules will change throughout the track work period.

Track Work to Disrupt Atlantic Coast Service

April 5, 2017

Amtrak said the Palmetto, Carolinian and Silver Star will be affected by CSX track work on April 11 and 12.

The New York-Charlotte, North Carolina, Carolinian will operate between Raleigh, North Carolina, and Charlotte only. No trains will operate between New York and Raleigh.

The New York-Savannah, Georgia, Palmetto, will operate only between New York and Washington.

The New York-Miami Silver Star will depart Miami four hours earlier (7:50 a.m.) and operate as Train 1092.

Times at intermediate stations will be four hours earlier as well.

 

North Carolina Trains Annulled on March 13

March 9, 2017

Track work being performed by CSX and Norfolk will result in cancellation of six Amtrak trains in North Carolina on March 12.

Annulled for that day will be Piedmont Nos. 73, 74, 75 and 76 and Carolinan Nos. 79 and 80.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said no alternative transportation is being provided. The track work is being undertaken in the Raleigh, North Carolina, region.

Side by Side in Conneaut

February 23, 2017

amtrak023

It was an Amtrak two-fer day although the second of the photo ops was not planned.

On Sept. 19, 2014, a friend and I made out way to Conneaut, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border to photograph an American Association of Private Rail Car Owners special en route to the group’s convention in New England.

It operated on Norfolk Southern and was, technically, an Amtrak charter even if the only Amtrak equipment was the locomotives.

After photographing the special on the Conneaut trestle, we checked with Amtrak Julie just for the heck of it to see how No. 48 was doing.

Under normal circumstances, the eastbound Lake Shore Limited would be long past Conneaut. But the summer and fall of 2014 was far from normal circumstances for Amtrak operations between Chicago and Cleveland.

Sure enough, No. 48 was running late and we had time to get up to the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern station to get a photo of it rounding the curve beneath the water tank.

For good measure No. 48 came up alongside a CSX train slowly making its way eastward.

Michigan Residents Fear Lake Michigan Bluff Carrying Amtrak’s Pere Marquette Might Collapse

January 12, 2017

Some residents of St. Joseph, Michigan, fear that a bluff along Lake Michigan near their property has eroded to the point that it might collapse and take the CSX tracks on it with it.

michiganThe line carries Amtrak’s Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette. The bluff stands above Old Lakeshore Road.

St. Joseph Mayor Mike Garey reviewed photographs of the bluff and said its collapse “wasn’t a matter of if, but when.”

Some of those living near the bluff said they’ve been sending photographs of its deteriorating condition to CSX for 15 years. The railroad has responded that it is monitoring the situation.

The bluff is on property owned jointed by the residents, the city and CSX.

Homeowner Anson Lovillette said he met with CSX consultants four years ago and was told the railroad planned to conduct a study of the bluff. But he said he has not heard back from CSX on what that study found.

The bluff is being eroded by a gap that opened in the 1990s in the shoreline along the lake and has grown to about 120 feet in width.