Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

NC Service Disruptions Set for June 26

June 15, 2017

More service disruptions are in store for Amtrak in North Carolina due to Norfolk Southern track work.

On June 26, Piedmont Service Nos. 73 and 76 will be canceled without alternative transportation being provided.

Piedmont Nos. 74 and 75 will operate between Raleigh and Greensboro. There will be no service to High Point, Salisbury, Kannapolis and Charlotte.

The Carolinian will operate between New York and Greensboro. No service will be provided to High Point, Salisbury, Kannapolis and Charlotte.

Piedmont Disruptions Set for June 19

June 14, 2017

Norfolk Southern track work on June 19 will result in the cancellation of some Amtrak Piedmont trains and a shortened route for other trains.

Trains 73 and 76 will be canceled and no alternative service provided. Nos. 74 and 75 will operate only between Raleigh and Greensboro, North Carolina, only.

There will be no service at the other stations served of High Point, Salisbury, Kannapolis and Charlotte.

PennDot Might Sponsor Buses Before Amtrak Service Expands from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh

May 23, 2017

As the Pennsylvania Senate considers approving legislation designed to increase Amtrak service to Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is eyeing sponsoring bus service until Amtrak service can be expanded.

The state funds the Pittsburgh-New York Pennsylvanian and is considering funding additional Amtrak service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Senate Transportation Committee recent voted unanimously in favor of a nine-month review study into adding two more passenger trains between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. The full Senate is expected to vote on the study proposal by the end of June.

The study would be conducted within nine months by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

The resolution also calls for looking at the prospect of adding service between Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

A number of steps would need to be taken before the service could become a reality, including making improvements to the Norfolk Southern tracks that the trains would use and negotiating agreements with Amtrak and NS. The route to be used is a busy NS freight line.

Western Pennsylvania interests have long noted that since 2000, the state has invested $400 million to increase passenger service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia from six trains to 14.

PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said the agency welcomes the review of what it would take to increase passenger service but that earlier studies have shown it would cost $3.75 million to $6 million to add one more passenger train, plus capital improvements estimated at $100 million in 2005.

Kirkpatrick said that in other regions of the country bus service has been paired with Amtrak service.

He said a dedicated bus could connect western Pennsylvania cities with Amtrak’s Keystone Service in Harrisburg to New York and Philadelphia.

Track Work to Affect NC Amtrak Trains

April 3, 2017

Track work being performed by Norfolk Southern between Kannapolis and Charlotte, North Carolina will result in the cancellation of some Amtrak service on Monday, April 10.

Piedmont Service Nos. 73 and 75 will operate normally to Kannapolis but passengers will ride a bus to Charlotte.

Passengers for Nos. 74 and 76 will ride a bus from Charlotte to Kannapolis that will depart Charlotte 15 minutes earlier than the normal train schedules to allow the trains to depart Kannapolis on time.

There will be bus service between Charlotte and Kannapolis for passengers riding the Carolinian, No 80. The bus will depart Charlotte 15 minute earlier than the scheduled train departure time.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that Carolinian No. 79 will operate from Kannapolis to Charlotte, but may be delayed 20 – 30 minutes departing Kannapolis due to waiting for NS crews to clear the track.

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.

Hurdles Remain for Western Pa. Amtrak Expansion

March 4, 2017

Although they continue to push for expanded Amtrak service, public officials in western Pennsylvania acknowledge that finding money for that service is a significant challenge.

“You’ve got a tight budget, so any additional money to expand rail service is tough to come by,” said State Rep. Bryan Barbin, a former member of the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee.

pennsylvaniaBabin said the proposed service expansion is likely to take time to realize because other projects are high on the state’s list of priorities.

He said the potential hurdles include the state budget, cooperation with Amtrak and negotiations with Norfolk Southern, which own the tracks used by the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

The state-funded Pennsylvanian is the only intercity rail service on the NS line between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Support for additional service has been particularly strong in the Johnstown area. Officials from Johnstown and Cambria County testified last year in favor of the service at a meeting of the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee.

Support has also come from public officials in Pittsburgh and Altoona.

Babin said that other projects higher on the state’s list of priorities so, “It’s going to be a while.”

Pennsylvanian Congressman Bill Shuster has also expressed support for the expansion.

“I believe these new investments will bring new economic growth to our communities,” said Shuster, who is chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “Passenger rail service provides an important link for southwestern Pennsylvania to the rest of the country, and anytime there’s a market demand for new service, it’s something that should be looked at.”

Babin observed that Pennsylvania is operating at a deficit and the legislature is looking at the possibilities of raising taxes, cutting spending and closing loopholes in the state budget.

However, he noted that Pennsylvania spends $18 million per year on passenger rail of which $17 million goes to support trains in the eastern third of the state.

“We need to do the same thing if we’re going to connect the whole state,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s the biggest transportation issue for the western part of the state.”

House Transportation Committee Chairman state Rep. John Taylor, of Philadelphia, said he is still committed to expanding rail service in the western part of the state.

“It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together,” said Eric Bugaile, the committee’s executive director. That would mean reaching an agreement among PennDOT, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern officials on the same page.

Aside from state budget challenges, another sticking point is the fact that the NS route to be used by the service is a busy freight corridor.

NS spokesman David Pidgeon said any expanded Amtrak service should not adversely affect NS freight customers.

Pidgeon said NS was amendable to what he termed “viable plans” for expansion, which would take the carrier’s concerns into account.

Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert said the carrier continues to work with PennDOT “to provide a thorough evaluation of additional service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. Due to the nature of these requests, which often include multiple stakeholders, extensive research and negotiations, they can require a significant amount of time to finalize.”

Service Disruptions Loom for Texas Eagle, Crescent

December 29, 2016

Service disruptions will affect the Texas Eagle and Crescent in early 2017.

Amtrak logoBetween Jan. 9 and 15, the Chicago-San Antonio train will not stop at Arcadia, Missouri. It will detour on those dates between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Missouri, due to Union Pacific track work.

Track work being done by Norfolk Southern will result in passengers ticketed aboard the New York-New Orleans Crescent riding buses between Atlanta and New Orleans.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said Nos. 19 and 20 will not operate on the following days south of Atlanta:

Southbound Train 19: Sunday through Wednesday on Jan. 8-11, 15-18, 22-25; Jan. 29-Feb. 1; and Feb. 5-8, 12-15 and 19-22.

Northbound Train 20: Monday through Thursday on Jan. 9-12, 16-19, 34-26; Jan. 30-Feb. 2; and Feb. 6-9, 13-16 and 20-23.

Intermediate stations affected are Anniston, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa in Alabama; Meridian, Laurel, Hattiesburg and Picayune in Mississippi, and Slidell, Louisiana.

On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays No. 19 will operate normally at all intermediate stations between Atlanta and New Orleans. Train No. 20 will have normal operations at those stations on  Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

CSX, NS Shutdowns Won’t Affect Amtrak

December 20, 2016

CSX said this week that it will shut down operations on Christmas Eve and reopen on Dec. 26.

CSX logo 1In a customer service advisory, CSX said operations will cease at 3 p.m. on Dec. 24 and resume at 7 a.m. on Dec. 26.

That is similar to a shutdown announced last week by Norfolk Southern, which plans to shut down on Dec. 24 and remain idle until Dec. 27. NS has said that it will “not accept trains at interchanges” during the days that it is closed.

Trains magazine observed that also other Class I and regional railroads are scaling back operations on non-essential route, none are planning complete shutdowns as are NS and CSX.

Amtrak and commuter trains that use CSX and NS are not expected to be adversely affected by the holiday service closures.

Crescent Stations to Receive Upgrades

December 20, 2016

The Southern Rail Commission said on Monday that three Alabama cities will receive funding to upgrade their Amtrak stations. All are served by the New York-New Orleans Crescent.

Amtrak 4The Commission said the grants are part of $2.4 million in federal funds to be spent for station upgrades in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The grants include $139,500 for Anniston, $150,000 for Birmingham and $314,457 for Tuscaloosa.

In Anniston, city officials say they will use their grant to extend the platform by 400 feet, to allow Nos. 19 and 20 to load and unload baggage and bicycles.

City manager Kent Davis noted that the Chief Ladiga Trail has been extended into Anniston and cycling signs have been placed on city streets.

The city also has going a project to build a new trailhead and parking lot serving Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail.

“If we make Amtrak more bike friendly as well, it could bring in more cyclists,” Davis said.

The lengthened platform is expected to eliminate the need for double stopping.

The city is in talks with Norfolk Southern, which owns the property on which the platform extension will be installed.

Moorman Likens Amtrak to an Old House That Needs Attention, But Not Reconstruction

November 22, 2016

Although he has been in office less than three months, Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman doesn’t expect to be around for a long time.

Wick Moorman

Wick Moorman

“My wife has told me that,” Moorman said at the Rail Trends 2016 Conference last week.

In his speech, Moorman said he is attempting to make Amtrak highly efficient, develop a stronger safety culture, and find the right person to lead the passenger carrier over the long term.

He also is seeking to build relationships with Amtrak’s host railroads.

He cited as an example his desire for Norfolk Southern chief dispatchers to get to know Amtrak operating officials so that they can solve problems together.

Moorman said that developing better relationships with its contract railroads is critical to being able to expand regional services.

He sees growth opportunities for regional trains and state-supported services in shorter corridors because they are attractive transportation alternative when compared to the hassle of flying and dealing with airport security.

“Amtrak’s bag fees are very low,” Moorman said. “And, you’ll hear this in our marketing, ‘there’s no middle seat.’ ”

Moorman described the long-distance trains as the “political glue” that holds Amtrak together and which play an essential role in providing transportation to underserved regions of the United States.

The Amtrak president said that although replacing Amtrak’s tired fleet of P42DC locomotives could be done relatively quickly, there is no fast solution to replacing Amfleet I and II equipment

That will require a source of funding as well as a new design. “We want to nail down what the cars should look like first,” Moorman said.

In the meantime, Amtrak has announced the replacement equipment that will be built to replace the Acela Express train sets with Moorman calling that a game-changer for high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor.

“It’s going to be a better product in every way,” Moorman said about the equipment that will be delivered starting in 2021.

Moorman sees Amtrak as having similar characteristic as an old house. It needs some attention, but not radical reconstruction.

“Amtrak’s not broken. There are things to be fixed,” Moorman said. “Think of me as the plumber.”

Moorman retired as head of Norfolk Southern in 2015 and initially spurned Amtrak’s overtures to replace Joseph Boardman as president.

He changed his mind after the Amtrak board of directors persisted in seeking him.

“I am not doing this for the money,” Moorman said. “I am doing this because the future of Amtrak is important to this country.”

He has brought on board some fellow retired NS executives, including Chief Operating Officer Mark Manion

Moorman said it will be easier to get legislators and others to support Amtrak if they can see that is is efficient and well-managed.

He said increasing efficiency means reducing operating losses while providing better service.

Although he sees Amtrak as safe and getting safer, Moorman said there is still work to be done to create a stronger safety culture.