Posts Tagged ‘Texas Eagle’

I-20 Corridor Seen as More Likely Due to IIJA Funding

November 9, 2022

Proponents of connecting three Amtrak routes by launching new service in the I-20 corridor recently met to discuss that propsect during a conference sponsored by the Southern Rail Commission.

The meeting was held in Monroe, Louisiana, and SRC officials discussed how funding available under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act might spur development of the service.

 The I-20 corridor route would originate in Atlanta, where it would connect with the New York-New Orleans Crescent, and run west to Fort Worth, Texas, to connect with the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Chief.

It also would connect with the City of New Orleans (Chicago-New Orleans) in Jackson, Mississippi.

The route would bring intercity rail service to interim points including Monroe; Shreveport and Ruston, Louisiana, and Vicksburg, Mississippi.

SRC officials told attendees at the meeting that funding provided by the IIJA “increases the likelihood of the project coming to fruition.”

Texas Interested in New Passenger Rail Service

October 15, 2022

The Texas Department of Transportation has told the Federal Railroad Administration it is interested in receiving federal funding to expand rail passenger service.

The letter said the funding could be used to provide “new and enhanced, conventional intercity options along traffic-clogged Interstate 35, which runs north-south through the state.”

The new service would supplement Amtrak’s daily Texas Eagle between San Antonio and Dallas, and provide additional service on a route used by the tri-weekly Sunset Limited between San Antonio and Houston.

Other potential new service would link San Antonio with the Rio Grande Valley, a route once used by Amtrak’s Inter-American to Laredo.

The FRA earlier this year established a Corridor Identification Program that will funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Longview Amtrak Station Renovated

September 30, 2022

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held earlier this month to mark the completion of renovation of the Amtrak station in Longview, Texas.

The $5 million project brought the depot, used by the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle, into compliance with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The station also hosts Amtrak Thruway bus service to Galveston, Texas, via Houston and Nacogdoches

Built in 1940 by the Texas & Pacific Railway, the Longview station provides a passenger waiting and ticketing area.

Workers removed the asphalt boarding platform and replaced it with a new 810-foot concrete platform with guardrails, mobile lift enclosure, and energy efficient LED lighting.

New station signs were installed and access to the station was improved.

Amtrak Suspends Service in Advance of Possible Railroad Work Stoppage Later This Week

September 13, 2022

As railroads begin to embargo traffic ahead of a possible national railroad strike and/or lockout that could begin as early as Friday, legislation has been introduced in the Senate to settle the dispute.

Amtrak said it would suspend service on four long-distance routes in advance of a possible railroad work stoppage.

The Senate resolution would force railroad labor unions and railroads to accept the recommendations made last month by a presidential emergency board.

It was introduced by Sens. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi).

Negotiations for a new contract have been ongoing for more than two years with unions representing locomotive engineers and train conductors at loggerheads with management over wages, benefits and work rules.

To date, eight of the 12 railroad labor unions have reached tentative contract agreements with the National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents railroad management in the negotiations.

Those agreements have been described in statements issued by the two sides as generally following the recommendations of the PEB.

The PEB issued its recommendations on Aug. 16 and under federal law strikes and/or lockouts are prohibited for 30 days following that. The 30-day cooling off period will expire at 12:01 a.m. on Friday.

Amtrak said it will suspend service today on the routes of the Southwest Chief, Empire Builder, California Zephyr and portions of the route of the Texas Eagle.

The latter involves the Los Angeles to San Antonio segment of the Texas Eagle route, which overlaps with the route of the Sunset Limited.

The passenger carrier said suspensions could expand to all routes outside the Northeast Corridor by the end of the week.

The Amtrak statement said suspensions being imposed today will ensure that the affected trains can reach their endpoint terminals before a strike and/or lockout begins.

Although neither Amtrak or its workers are parties to the railroad labor negotiations, the passenger carrier uses track owned by freight railroads where a strike and/or lockout may occur.

In the event of a strike and/or lockout, Amtrak said it would continue operating trains that wholly use track that it owns or is owned by public agencies.

This includes the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington; the line between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts; the Empire Corridor between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York; and the Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

An Amtrak statement said passengers affected by service suspensions due to the labor dispute will be contacted and offered the opportunity to change their travel dates or offered a full refund of their fare without any cancellation fees.

In a related developments, Class 1 railroads have begun embargoing certain types of shipments starting today.

Norfolk Southern told its shippers that it will stop accepting intermodal and automotive traffic.

The NS notice said it will close the gates for loaded or empty intermodal units at its terminals as of noon Tuesday and would also stop accepting traffic at on-dock port facilities and privately owned intermodal terminals.

The notice said the gates would remain open for intermodal pickup until further notice. Customers using railroad-operated EMP and TMX containers will be unable to make reservations after 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday. They will be able to return empty containers to NS terminals as normal until further notice.

Automotive traffic gates will close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, with an embargo on auto traffic beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.

The railroad also said it is planning “for the orderly lay down of trains in the bulk network” and will contact customers moving bulk commodities in unit trains with specific details.

CSX has also began on Monday an embargo of “high hazardous, toxic by inhalation and poisonous by inhalation” cargo.

Track Work to Disrupt Texas Eagle

August 2, 2022

Track work being performed by host railroad Union Pacific will affect operations of the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle on Aug. 7.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said Train 21 will terminate at Longview, Texas, with alternate transportation provided between Longview and Fort Worth, serving the intermediate stops of Mineola and Dallas.

Train 22 will terminate at Fort Worth, with alternate transportation provided between Fort Worth and Longview, serving the intermediate stops of Dallas and Mineola.

The bus pickup in Fort Worth is scheduled for 2 p.m. and passengers will need to show their train tickets to receive bus transportation.

Texas Eagle in Big D

June 28, 2022

As the skyline of downtown Dallas looms behind it, Amtrak’s westbound Texas Eagle crosses the Trinity River. The image was made in October 1985 during an era when the Eagle had a varied consist.

Upfront are two F40PH locomotives pulling a mixture of Superliner and Heritage Fleet cars. Among the latter are former Santa Fe Hi-Level cars and a single-level sleeping car. Also tucked into the consist is an Amfleet food service car and heritage fleet baggage car.

Today Train 21 has P42DC motive power and an all-Superliner consist.

Congressman Seeks Return of Laredo Service

March 28, 2022

The eastbound and westbound Texas Eagle meet in Fort Worth on March 15, 2005

Bring back the Inter-American. That might be the rally cry of Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) after a recent meeting with Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner to seek restoration of intercity rail service between San Antonio and Laredo, Texas.

Cuellar told news reporters in Texas that funding for the service could come from the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

News reports indicated that developing the San Antonio-Laredo corridor could cost up to $12 billion.

Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle is the ancestor of the Inter-American, which began service between Fort Worth, Texas, and Laredo on Jan. 27, 1973, on a tri-weekly schedule.

The northern terminus of the Inter-American was extended to St. Louis on March 13, 1974, and to Chicago on Oct. 31, 1976.

Service was discontinued between San Antonio and Laredo on Oct. 1, 1981, as a result of an Amtrak budget cut.

Cuellar has talked about the new service to Laredo connecting with a proposed service between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey, Mexico.

That would be a resurrection of sorts of the original mission of the Inter-American, which was created in response to a congressional mandate to Amtrak to create three international routes.

Amtrak never operated the Inter-American into Mexico or had any through car arrangement across the border. There were ground transportation options at times for passengers connecting between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.

Eventually, the connection was broken when schedule changes to the Inter-American and Mexico’s Aztec Eagle resulted in Amtrak arriving after the Mexican train had departed Neuvo Laredo.

The Amtrak Connects US plan released last year does not call for a new corridor between San Antonio and Laredo.

Some Trains to Resume Daily Operation

March 26, 2022

Starting Monday, Amtrak’s Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited will begin sharing train sets with the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

The move coincides with both trains resuming daily operation rather than the five-day-week operation they have been following since late January.

At that time the Capitol Limited began departing Chicago and Washington on Sunday through Thursday with no departures on Friday and Saturday.

At the time of the service reduction, Amtrak cited staffing shortages in reducing the operation of most long-distance trains from daily to five-days-a-week.

A report on the website of Trains magazine said the equipment from inbound No. 29 will make a same-day turn with minimal maintenance to become No. 21 for Texas.

Three days a week the Texas Eagle interchanges in San Antonio through cars to and from Los Angeles with the Sunset Limited.

Trains said the equipment sharing between the Eagle and Capitol will reduce the number of equipment sets needed to cover both trains from seven to six.

Currently, Amtrak assigns three equipment sets to Nos. 29 and 30 and four equipment sets to Nos. 21 and 22.

The trains will continue to be treated as separate for purposes of ticketing and those who are connecting from the Capitol to the Eagle or vice versa must disembark in Chicago rather than remain onboard.

The Eagle and Capitol have similar equipment sets of two coaches, a sleeping car and a Cross Country Café that serves as a dining car for sleeping car passengers and a café car for coach passengers.

The Eagle operates with a third coach between Chicago and St. Louis.

As part of the change, Amtrak plans to shift the federally-mandated 1,500 mile equipment inspection to St. Louis rather than Chicago.

To accommodate that, Amtrak is adding additional dwell time in St. Louis so that the Eagle will sit there for two hours in each direction.

During the St. Louis dwell time passengers will either have to disembark for the entire dwell time or remain in their coach seat or sleeping car room.

Amtrak wanted to retain the same schedule between St. Louis and San Antonio in both directions so it modified the schedule between Chicago and St. Louis.

No. 21 will now depart Chicago at 11:55 a.m. rather than the current 1:45 p.m. It will depart St. Louis at 9:22 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 3:21 p.m. Currently, No. 22 departs St. Louis at 7:55 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 1:22 p.m.

Currently, the St. Louis dwell time for the Texas Eagle in both directions is 30 minutes.

A potential challenge for the new schedule can occur if the inbound Capitol Limited is excessively late arriving in Chicago.

It is common for No. 29 to lose time while operating over host railroad Norfolk Southern west of Toledo.

In addition to the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle resuming daily operation, the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight will also begin operating daily next week.

Although Amtrak’s website shows all other long-distance trains now operating five days a week resuming daily operation on May 23, that is not guaranteed even though passengers are being allowed to book travel on days those trains currently do not operate.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Railway Age that the daily operation shown on the website for all long distance trains effective March 23 is the carrier’s spring schedule and the summer schedule has yet to be posted.

Amtrak has thus far declined to say how long the less-than-daily operation will continue.

That means the Lake Shore Limited, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Southwest Chief, California Zephyr and Empire Builder will continue to operate on their present five-days-a-week schedules.

Also uncertain is when the New York-Miami Silver Meteor will resume operation.

Some corridor services will resume operating on March 28, including all trains in the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor and some Empire Service trains that had been suspended between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

However, in the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini remain suspended.

The former departed Chicago in the morning while the latter departed Carbondale in late afternoon.

Some shuttle trains between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts, also remain suspended.

A few Northeast Corridor trains also have yet to return, including overnight Nos. 66 and 67 between Boston and Washington.

This is not the first time Amtrak has operated equipment sharing for long-distance trains in Chicago.

In past years the Capitol Limited has shared equipment with the Southwest Chief, the Texas Chief has shared equipment with the City of New Orleans, and the Empire Builder has shared equipment with the City of New Orleans.

Magliari told Railway Age that combining the equipment sets for the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle was done due to shortages of operating and maintenance employees.

Another factor, he said, is that both are one-night trains, rather than taking two nights.

Eagle’s Nest

February 16, 2022

The eastbound and westbound Texas Eagles are meeting in Fort Worth on March 15, 2005. This is a scheduled event so both trains were on time. Partly visible in the distance in front of Train 22 (right) is the equipment for the Heartland Flyer laying over before departing later today.

3 Trains Were Most Delayed, FRA Says

February 16, 2022

Three Amtrak trains led the list of most delayed trains during the fourth quarter of 2021, the Federal Railroad Administration said on Monday.

In a report showing performance and service quality of intercity passenger train operations, the Cardinal (Chicago-New York), Sunset Limited (New Orleans-Los Angeles) and Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio) had the most delays.

The FRA used standards and metrics that it issued in November 2020 to compile the report.

The agency found Amtrak trains experienced more than 1.2 million minutes of delay during the fourth quarter, up 37 percent from the previous quarter.

Delays system-wide rose 33 percent at 8,168,324 train-miles. The FRA rules track delays by 40 categories, but the top three during the fourth quarter were those attributed to a host railroad, those attributed to Amtrak and those attributed to a third party. The latter includes weather-related delays.

The FRA said freight train interference accounted for 22 percent of delay minutes, an increase of 36 percent from the previous quarter.

Delays by train included the Cardinal (87,123 minutes), Sunset Limited (67,300 minutes), and Texas Eagle (42,965 minutes).

The report also found Amtrak ridership increased 48 percent during the fourth quarter to 5.1 million passengers.