Posts Tagged ‘private cars’

A Private Car Was on the Rear of No. 29

January 25, 2020

It is shortly after sunrise in Waterloo, Indiana, as Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited makes it station stop.

I’m riding in the rear Superliner coach and behind us is a private car making the trek with us to Chicago.

A new day has broken over Northern Indiana and there is a little bit of early morning color on the clouds on the eastern horizon.

The building to the right appears to be a former New York Central freight station.

Private Car Train to Operate in September

January 18, 2020

Private car trains are making somewhat of a comeback on Amtrak.

The passenger carrier has given the Association of American Private Car Owners preliminary approval to operate a private car special from Chicago to Vermont in September.

The train is scheduled to depart from Chicago at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 22the previous day.

The special will also operate on the Mohawk Adirondack Northern Railroad and the Vermont Rail System.

In announcing the special to its members, AAPRCO said Itinerary is subject to railroad approvals, but the group said it has contingency routings.

The announcement did not say what route the train would take between Chicago and Cleveland, but it likely would be the Norfolk Southern line used by Amtrak.

Nor did it say which route would be taken between Cleveland and Buffalo, New York.

In September 2014, an AAPRO special traveled on NS east of Cleveland.

The train has been named the American Autumn Explorer.

The announcement said the train would operate overnight through Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania and expects to pass the former Buffalo Central Terminal during breakfast hours.

The train will continue to Niagara Falls, New York, where passengers will be able to disembark and spend time there.

The train will depart Niagara Falls on Sept. 23 and use the former New York Central Water Level Route to Utica, New York, where it will drop its Amtrak locomotives and operate as a special train on the Mohawk Adirondack Northern Railroad.

The destination will be Thendara, New York, where the train will park overnight.

Departing Thendara on Sept. 24, the special will go back to Utica, pick up the Amtrak locomotives and use former Delaware and Hudson Railroad tracks (now owned by Canadian Pacific) to travel to Saratoga Springs, New York.

The special will leave Saratoga Springs on Sept. 26 and en route to near Plattsburgh, New York, where it will reverse direction and run to Albany-Rensselaer, New York, to pick up additional private cars.

Departure from Albany-Rensselaer will be on Sept. 27 for Whitehall, New York, and then east to Rutland, Vermont.

At Rutland the Amtrak locomotives will be dropped off and the train will continue on the Vermont Rail System to Burlington where it will be parked downtown for three days.

The annual AAPRCO convention will be held in Burlington.

The special will depart Burlington on Oct. 1 and return to Albany-Rensselaer where the special will terminate and its cars forwarded back home on regularly scheduled Amtrak trains starting on Oct. 2.

Amtrak Cracks Down Again on Private Cars

May 30, 2019

Private car owners have suffered another setback with Amtrak banning passengers from riding on open platform or in open dutch doors on a moving train.

In a special notice, Amtrak said private car owners and guests can only be on an observation deck or at an open dutch door when a train is stationary.

The rule also requires that when a train is stopped that those on a rear platform or in an open dutch door must wear protective eye wear and that sufficient hand holds and railings must be available for all occupants

Leaning beyond the sides or rear planes of any private car and liquids are also prohibited in these areas when a train is stationary.
Officials with the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners and the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance say the latest decree by Amtrak represents a reversal of an earlier agreement to ban riding on open platform decks only in the Northeast Corridor.

The two private car trade groups had worked with Amtrak last year to create a safety manual that address platform riding.

AAPRCO officials believe that the change occurred the manager the private rail car groups worked with at Amtrak moved to another department and the agreements it reached with the passenger carrier was never published on the Amtrak website.

“We immediately asked for reconsideration of the ban, but we’re told it came from safety – and no change,” APPRCO President Tony Marchiando told Trains magazine.

Amtrak had agreed to a rule proposed by the private car owners that those riding an open platform must be seated, wear eye protection and that no drinks of any kind were to be consumed on the rear platform.

Amtak’s former special movements manager had approved the private car safety manual, which has since been published.

“Of course, our membership is very disappointed with this,” Marchiando said. “Platform riding has always been an important part of the private car experience and very, very few, only minor, injuries have ever occurred. Our intention is to work to allow safe riding on platforms with sensible rules and procedures.”

Amtrak said car owners who fail to adhere to safety rules could be suspended or see their car’s permission to operate on any Amtrak train be revoked.

Amtrak Won’t Allow Being on Open Platform Cars

June 11, 2018

Amtrak has revised its safety manual for private rail car owners to prohibit passengers aboard open platform cars from riding or standing on the platform while the car is in motion.

The manual said the rule applies to cars attached to any Amtrak revenue train or charter operation.

“Failure to adhere to this safety rule could result in the private car owner being suspended or revoked from operation on any Amtrak train or charter train,” the rules states.

A related rule requires that vestibule doors and windows shall be closed and latched before a train departs and remain closed until it comes to a halt at the next station.

The safety manual is a 15-page documents that spells out in detail Amtrak’s rules and expectations for private car owners and their passengers.

The manual also notes that starting on May 14, 2018, the procedure for scheduling the annual, 40 Year, and 10 year follow-up inspections is now being managed Amtrak’s Centralized National Operations Center.

Amtrak’s mechanical maintenance facilities are no longer available to perform these periodic inspections.

Amtrak Clarifies Policy on Specials, Private Cars

April 20, 2018

Amtrak has clarified its new policy on special moves and the carriage of private railroad cars and as expected the passenger carrier is largely eliminating moves to and from intermediate points.

The guidelines say Amtrak will only accommodate private car moves at endpoint terminals or intermediate stations where the scheduled dwell time is sufficient to allow switching of the cars.

Amtrak listed 40 intermediate stations where switching will be permitted. The list includes such points as Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver; Houston; Kansas City; and St. Paul, Minnesota, but no cities in Ohio.

Private cars can also be added or removed from Amtrak trains at Pontiac, Michigan; Indianapolis; and Pittsburgh. However, the latter is limited to the Pennsylvanian, which originates and terminates in Pittsburgh.

Also excluded are Grand Rapids and Port Huron in Michigan, both of which are endpoints for the Pere Marquette and Blue Water respectively.

Nor is Huntington, West Virginia, included on the list. The omission of Huntington is notable because it is the origin of the annual New River Train and the home of the fleet of cars owned by the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society.

Amtrak said it will work with private rail car owners whose cars are marooned at prohibited intermediate switching stops on a one-time, one-way relocation move to a terminal or yard where private cars will still be permitted to operate.

The movement of private cars will also requires case-by-case written approval by Amtrak.

Amtrak plans to limit maintenance service for private-car owners to Federal Railroad Administration mandated repairs of safety appliances as necessary on private cars in the consist of Amtrak trains.

Private car owners will no longer be permitted to pay Amtrak’s maintenance services for preventative maintenance and general repair services. In the past Amtrak staff undertook such repairs and then billed the car owner for the work.

As for special moves and charters, Amtrak said those will be limited to existing Amtrak routes.

The guidelines also said Amtrak will continue to accommodate specials and charters that are already established in the Amtrak system. They must not be one-time trips.

That is good news for the annual New River Train, which uses the route of the Chicago-Washington Cardinal, but not so good news for the rare mileage specials sponsored by the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners.

Would-be operators of chartered trains that use Amtrak locomotives, equipment and personnel will be subject to the availability of those resources and their operation must not adversely affect scheduled operations.

A charter must also generate sufficient financial benefit for Amtrak to justify its use of its equipment and personnel, but the carrier did not explain how it calculates those.

The updated guidelines on charters and special moves do not apply to trains operated by Amtrak on its own or for governmental purposes.

Private Car Owners, Amtrak Management Talk About Policy Change in Handling PVs

April 5, 2018

At least they are talking. Amtrak executives spoke on Tuesday on a conference call with representatives of private railroad passenger cars who have decried a policy change by the nation’s passenger carrier that has banned charter trains and specials, and made it more difficult for car owners to move their cars on Amtrak trains.

Amtrak management told the car owners that the policy change followed a review of carrying private rail cars on Amtrak trains and how that affects the on-time performance of the trains as well as the passenger company’s finances.

During the call, Amtrak officials reportedly reiterated their intent to cease adding and removing private cars at most intermediate points.

“If you want cars switched at every station, we can’t do that,” an Amtrak representative said during Tuesday’s call. “We are interested in your thoughts about what you think is reasonable and consistent with the mission of not delaying trains.”

Amtrak officials didn’t rule out carrying private cars, but seemed to suggest that it would prefer to do that at route endpoints because en route switching can delay a train.

The private car groups made suggestions that could improve on-time performance, but preserve midpoint pickups, such as requiring private car operators to have their own qualified mechanical personnel to help facilitate midpoint switching, or to add private cars to front of trains to eliminate extra switching moves.

The private car owners also suggested having their cars operate on a generator until reaching a station with sufficient dwell time to allow head-end power to be connected.

The meeting notes were distributed to members of the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners and the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance.

Among the mid-point Amtrak stops at which private cars are sometimes  added or removed are Lamy, New Mexico; Huntington, West Virginia; Denver; St. Paul, Minnesota; Whitefish, Montana; Charlotte, North Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; Tucson, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Jacksonville, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Milwaukee; Cleveland; St. Louis; San Antonio, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; and Kansas City, Missouri.

Amtrak indicated during the call that it is reviewing the fees it charges private car owners to haul their cars.

The private car owners said that in particular they want Amtrak to better explain what CEO Richard Anderson meant when he wrote in a memo to Amtrak employees that specials and charters were not meeting Amtrak’s expectations of “fully allocated profitable margin[s].”

At one point the private car owners expressed a willingness to pay double the actual cost of moving private cars on Amtrak.

The conference call did not discuss special trains, but Amtrak has refused to handle a planned AAPRCO train, the Black Hills Special, that was to have operated from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Denver on May 17-22.