Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

Michigan Trains Running Faster Now

January 24, 2018

Most Amtrak trains serving Michigan have faster running times, the Michigan Department of Transportation said this week.

Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) have seen 20 minutes cut from their schedules. Blue Water service between Chicago and Port Huron, Michigan, has seen a smaller running time cut.

Both lines use rails owned by Amtrak between Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Porter, Indiana.

Amtrak dispatchers control the Chicago-Detroit line as far east as Dearborn except for a portion of track in Battle Creek that is owned by Canadian National.

MDOT acquired 135 miles of track from Norfolk Southern in 2012 that are used by Amtrak between Kalamazoo and Dearborn except for the CN track in Battle Creek.

The top speed between Porter and Kalamazoo 110 mph. The maximum speed is 79 mph on the MDOT-owned track, but that is expected to rise to 110 mph this year after the completion of positive train control testing and assignment of Siemens Charger locomotives to the route.

The State of Michigan has used $347 million in federal funds to replace rails, smooth curves, upgrade crossings and signals and improve train signaling and communication systems. These improvements are expected to result in higher running speeds.

MDOT funded a connection in West Detroit for a faster route to a CN line that serves Amtrak stations in Detroit, Royal Oak, Troy and Pontiac.

“At MDOT’s direction, Amtrak work crews have corrected years of deferred maintenance and have taken over dispatching,” said Joe McHugh, Amtrak vice president of state-supported services in a statement. “We have created the longest railroad segment outside the northeast that is being made ready for an even more reliable and faster Amtrak service.”


New Middletown Depot Construction Delayed

January 16, 2018

A new Amtrak station for Middletown, Pennsylvania, is not expected to open until sometime in 2021 or 2022.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said it will take a couple years before construction can begin to build a new platform and station.

PennDOT attributed the delay to track work yet to be performed by Norfolk Southern.

NS must relocate about a mile of its track at a cost of about $6.5 million to make room for relocating two tracks that will be used by Amtrak.

“Given the uncertainty of the railroads’ track schedules, a firm completion date was never set,” said PennDOT spokesman Richard Kirkpatrick said. “Track work construction schedules are contingent upon the availability of the Amtrak and Norfolk Southern workforces.”

The new station is expected to cost $24.4 million and replace the existing depot on Mill Street. That facility is not accessible to handicapped individuals. The new facility will be built along Route 230 at the end of Ann Street.

Kirkpatrick said the station design is being reviewed by Amtrak.

A public-private partnership known as Keystone Connections has submitted a preliminary proposal to build the station and related developments.

Keystone has not yet released many details on the project other than it expects to construct a 400-space parking area and that there will be room for retail shops and possibly a hotel.

The station project also includes a pedestrian bridge to be built over Route 230 that will link the Penn State Harrisburg campus to the station and downtown Middletown.

Planning for the station project began in 2009. Middletown is served by Amtrak’s Keystone Service trains between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Crescent Passengers Will Ride Bus Between Atlanta and New Orleans on Most Days in January

December 27, 2017

Track work being performed by Norfolk Southern will send passengers traveling on the Crescent between Atlanta and New Orleans aboard a bus on most days between Jan. 7 and Feb. 8, 2018.

Nos. 19 and 20 will not operate on the following dates beyond Atlanta:  Jan.8 through Jan. 11; Jan. 15 through Jan. 18; Jan. 22 through Jan. 25; Jan. 29 through Feb. 1; Feb. 5 through Feb. 8.

On these dates, No. 19 will terminate in Atlanta and passengers put aboard buses to Anniston, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Meridian, Laurel and Hattiesburg, Mississippi;  and New Orleans. There will be no service to or from Picayune, Mississippi; or Slidell, Louisiana.

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays No. 19 will operate normally, serving all stations on the route.

No. 20 will originate in Atlanta on the aforementioned days. It will originate in New Orleans on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and serve all stations en route.

Defective NS Ties Could Affect Amtrak Operations

November 7, 2017

The National Association of Railroad Passengers is warning that Amtrak passengers on routes hosted by Norfolk Southern could be facing delays as the railroad replaces millions of defective cross ties.

NS recently alleged in a lawsuit filed in a Federal District Court in Alabama that Boatright Railroad Products failed to properly coat 4.7 million wood ties that it sold to NS.

Instead of treating the ties with creosote, the company used such substances as paint and motor oil to make the ties appear to be black. In its lawsuit, NS contends that the ties are deteriorating at faster than expected rate.

NARP said that the scope of work NS faces in replacing the defective ties and how that will affect Amtrak operations is not yet known, but it could affect several Amtrak routes operated by NS.

Deteriorating ties have been implicated in derailments in recent months, which sparked an investigation of the causes.

NARP said additional and more frequent inspections will be needed to prevent potentially catastrophic derailments of trains, including passenger trains and freight trains that carry such flammable materials as oil and ethanol.

Cruising Through the Pennsylvania Hills

October 25, 2017

Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvania is six minutes off the advertised as it rolls on Track No. 2 of the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern through Summerhill, Pennsylvania.

The train would lose time en route, arriving at New York Penn Station a half-hour late. The delays in this area of the route appeared to have been due to track work being performed by NS as it gets ready to cut in new signals and positive train control.

Behind lead P42DC No. 160 is an all Amfleet consist that includes coaches and a cafe car.

NS to Study Extending Amtrak in Virginia

September 28, 2017

A study will be conducted by Norfolk Southern of the feasibility of extending Amtrak service west of Roanoke, Virginia, to Christiansburg in the New River Valley.

The area is located near Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg. The study is being funded by $350,000 from the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board.

“With the concentration of students both at Virginia Tech and Radford this makes a lot sense for the region,” said Ray Smoot, chair of NRV 2020 and a former Virginia Tech administrator. “I think a lot of the ridership [out of Roanoke] will come from here.”

NRV 2020 favors locating a station in Christiansburg near the Aquatic Center.

Amtrak is slated to begin serving Roanoke on Oct. 31 by extending a Northeast Regional train that now terminated in Lynchburg, Virginia.

NRV 2020 conducted a 2015 study that estimated that service to the New River Valley would draw 40,000 passenger trips a year to cities such as like Lynchburg and Washington.

Sunset Ltd to Return, More Cancellations Announced

September 9, 2017

One pair of Amtrak trains is set to return, but much of Amtrak’s service in the Southeast is going to be suspended due to impending Hurricane Irma.

Amtrak said on Friday that the Sunset Limited will resume operating the length of its route between New Orleans and Los Angeles next week.

Service will resumes effective with the departures of Train 2 on Sept. 13 from Los Angeles and Train 1 on Sept. 16, from New Orleans.

Operations of the Sunset Limited has been suspended between New Orleans and San Antonio due to flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area.

In the meantime Hurricane Irma is set to make landfall on Florida this weekend and Amtrak has canceled numerous trains in anticipation.

The Silver Star and Silver Meteor from Miami to New York are cancelled for Sept. 9 – 11. The Silver Service trains from New York to Miami are cancelled for Sept. 8 – 10.

The southbound Auto Train is cancelled through Sept. 9. The northbound Auto Train is cancelled on Sept. 9 – 11.

The southbound Palmetto from New York City to Savannah, Georgia, is cancelled from Sept. 9 – 12. Its northbound counterpart is canceled between Sept. 10-13.

Schedule track work that was to be performed by Norfolk Southern in North Carolina has been canceled due to the impending storm.

Therefore the Carolinian and Piedmont trains that were to have been canceled for the track work on Sept. 12 will operate as scheduled.

Tickets on Sale for Roanoke Amtrak Service

September 7, 2017

Tickets are now on sale on the Amtrak website for service to Roanoke, Virginia, that is slated to begin on Oct. 31.

A coach ticket from Roanoke was selling for $72 to Washington, $148 to New York and $168 to Boston when traveling in mid November.

Amtrak is extending a Northeast Regional route to Roanoke, which last had Amtrak service in 1979.

The train will depart Roanoke at 6:19 a.m. Monday through Friday and at 8:40 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The train will return to Roanoke at 10 p.m.

The Northeast Regional train that will serve Roanoke currently terminates in Lynchburg.

West of Lynchburg the train will use Norfolk Southern tracks that are now freight only.

Since 2011, Valley Metro has operated a bus from Roanoke to the Lynchburg Amtrak station. In 2013, Amtrak began selling Thruway tickets to Roanoke.

To bring rail service to Roanoke, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is paying about $103 million for capital improvements to the route, including construction of a boarding platform in downtown Roanoke.

Amtrak and local officials plan to conduct a welcoming ceremony in Roanoke on Oct. 30.

Another Sunday Another Very Late Amtrak Train

July 10, 2017

Well another Sunday and another late Amtrak train. This week it was the Capitol Limited’s turn. The lead engine had a traction motor fire while going up Sand Patch grade Saturday evening, disabling the unit and necessitating a freight unit to continue.

This made it about 10 hours late into Pittsburgh where Norfolk Southern 7630, a GE ES40DC,  took over duties. With a freight engine leading, No. 29 could only go about 50 miles per hour and continued to lose more time en route.

I caught it at the sag near Beloit, Ohio, about 11:30 a.m. It cleared Berea about 2 p.m. and as I write this article at about 9:30 p.m. the train has still not arrived in Chicago.

It would later arrive at Chicago Union Station at 9:52 p.m., 13 hours and 7 minutes late.

Besides the late train doing a daylight run across Ohio and Indiana, which is interesting itself, the train had five private cars trailing including a former Union Pacific dome observation car bringing up the rear.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Amtrak Where You Don’t Normally See It

July 3, 2017

It isn’t every day that you an Amtrak train in Bellevue. The National passenger carrier has never run through here in scheduled service, only on detour moves.

Amtrak No. 49 takes the Toledo District in the mini plant in Bellevue on its circuitous detour

Crossing the Portage River in Oak Harbor.

On Sunday (July 2) Norfolk Southern was changing out the diamonds at Sandusky and Vickers (Toledo). As a result Amtrak 49, the westbound Lake Shore Limited, needed to detour through Bellevue.

Normally this would not have been an issue; however, it was running about 5 1/2 hours late when it reached Cleveland. The other Amtrak trains did not need to detour as they were on time.

No. 49 took the Sandusky district to Bellevue and the Toledo district west. It would have an interesting route to get to Toledo going past Ironville tower and the Wheeling Belt before regaining the Chicago Line. I didn’t chase the train that far however I was able to get a few photos at Bellevue and Oak Harbor Ohio.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon