Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving holiday travel’

Thanksgiving Travel Relatively Quiet at Amtrak

December 1, 2020

The Thanksgiving 2020 travel period was a relatively quiet one for Amtrak.

In the past the intercity carrier has leased equipment from rail commuter agencies to offer additional service in the Northeast, added additional cars to long-distance trains, and operated extra sections on some Midwest Corridor routes out of Chicago.

But this year it was just business as usual with little additional capacity being added.

A report on the Trains magazine website indicated that the only extra trains added this year were a Boston-Washington Northeast Regional roundtrip and one Acela roundtrip between New York and Washington.

The COVID-19 pandemic depressed holiday travel this year although airlines reported their highest single day loads since the pandemic began in earnest last March.

The Trains report said few trains were sold out this year although some sellouts occurred on corridor and long-distance trains on certain days.

Due to the pandemic Amtrak is limiting coach class travel to 50 percent of capacity.

Amtrak has since October operated nearly all of its long-distance trains three days a week.

That meant that some trains did not operate on days that would ordinarily have a seen a high demand for travel.

On Sunday, which airlines say is historically the busiest travel day of the year, Amtrak had just one long-distance train, the Texas Eagle, departing from Chicago.

Some long-distance trains did experience sell outs, including the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited.

Nos. 29 and 30 in recent months has been operating with just four cars, two coaches, a sleeper and a food service car.

But No. 30 departing Chicago on Saturday (Nov. 28) and Monday (Nov. 30) had no available seats available, the Trains report said.

The report said the Texas Eagle had no available coach seating between Chicago and St. Louis on Friday or Sunday in either direction.

The Trains report said space on many long-distance trains that experienced sell outs sold out weeks in advance of the Thanksgiving travel period.

However, Amtrak declined to add additional capacity to those trains.

With health officials seeking to discourage holiday travel, some long-distance trains experienced cancellations as the holiday period drew near, thus opening seats on the day of departure.

Amtrak Suggests Travelers Buy Tickets Now for Thanksgiving Travel

November 10, 2020

Amtrak is urging travelers to buy tickets for Thanksgiving travel now although its announcements have not said whether additional cars will be added to trains during the holiday travel period.

A news release posted on the Amtrak website referenced “available seats added on many routes to maintain distancing.”

That may suggest additional coaches will be added to some trains.

In the past, Amtrak has indicated in its holiday travel news releases that all available equipment would be used during the Thanksgiving travel period.

However, concurrent with the intercity passenger carrier’s reducing the frequency of operation of nearly all long-distance trains to tri-weekly, Amtrak also has reduced the number of cars assigned to most trains.

In recent years, additional trains have operated for the Thanksgiving travel period in Illinois and Michigan, but that seems unlikely this year.

Those states have reduced their funding of Amtrak service and the number of trains on most Midwest corridor routes has been reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In its latest news release, Amtrak has reiterated that trains will not be operating at full capacity in order to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Seating will be half of capacity in coaches.

Reservations Needed for Capitol Corridor Thanksgiving Travel

October 30, 2020

Reservations wlll be required to ride all Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains during the Thanksgiving travel period of Nov. 23-30.

A service advisory announcing the rule said it was being implemented in order to manage capacity and maintain social distancing.

Passengers traveling on monthly, six-ride, or 10-ride tickets will need to use the RideReserve feature at the Amtrak website or smartphone app, or make a confirmation via an Amtrak agent prior to the trip.

Reservations Needed for Thanksgiving Travel Aboard Pacific Surfliners

October 23, 2020

Amtrak will require reservations for travel aboard its Pacific Surfliner  trains during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the rule will apply between Nov. 23-30 and is intended to better manage capacity and social distancing.

Suspended during this period will be programs that allow Metrolink and Coaster pass users to ride Surfliner trains will be suspended.

Those holding Amtrak 10-day and monthy passes can still ride, but will be required to use the Amtrak RideReserve system at the Amtrak website or smartphone apps to confirm their trip plans.

Amtrak to Add Cars for Thanksgiving Holiday

October 16, 2020

Amtrak plans to add additional cars to some trains during the Thanksgiving holiday period, it said this week in a news release.

The passenger carrier urged travelers to book early for holiday travel and noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic capacity of the trains will be limited to 50 percent of available seats in coach class.

Since early fall Amtrak’s long-distance trains have been operating with sorter consists as the carrier implemented a plan to reduce operation of most of those trains from daily to tri-weekly.

The Lake Shore Limited, for example, is now operating with one New York sleeper instead of two.

Pacific Surfliners Are All-Reserved for Thanksgiving Travel

November 17, 2019

In a service advisory, Amtrak said during this period a ticket will only be valid on the train for which you are holding a reservation.

Amtrak said it is adding cars to select trains to provide more seating during the period.

Both Rail2Rail programs (Coaster and Metrolink) will observe a blackout period for the same dates of Nov. 27 through Dec. 2.

Reservations are not required for monthly and 10-ride ticket holders.

Hiawatha Trains Reserved for Thanksgiving Travel

November 5, 2019

Monthly and ten-ride ticket holders will not need reservations.

No Extra Amtrak Service to Michigan for Thanksgiving

November 1, 2019

Think Thanksgiving and images of turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie come to mind along with football games on TV and extra Amtrak trains to Michigan.

Well, you can scratch the latter from this year’s list of Thanksgiving traditions.

Amtrak will not be operating extra service to Michigan this year as it has in recent years.

The carrier said this week that rather than operate additional trains on its Pere Marquette (Chicago-Grand Rapids) and Wolverine Service (Chicago-Detroit) routes, it will instead assign additional coaches to existing trains.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Trains magazine that Amtrak made the decision to scrap the extra trains after reviewing ridership data from last year that found travel demand is spread out more evenly across more days than it has been previously.

The passenger carrier also decided to drop additional holiday service to Michigan because of poor on-time performance on host railroad Norfolk Southern in Chicago and northwest Indiana.

NS freight train interference accounted for 58 percent of the 20,143 delay minutes incurred by Amtrak trains traveling on the NS Chicago Line between Chicago and Porter, Indiana, where the routes to Michigan peel off.

About a quarter of the delays have been incurred by Wolverine Service No. 352, which departs Chicago at 1:20 p.m.

“If we try to put additional trains on those tracks and delays occur, this could have a cascading effect delaying outbound trains because inbound equipment didn’t arrive on time,” Magliari said.

So Amtrak will add an additional coach to all Wolverine Service trains operating between Nov. 27 and Dec. 1.

Other trains operating before and after that time period will also gain additional coaches.

Amtrak plans to add a coach to two Lincoln Service between Chicago and St. Louis round-trips, the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, Illini, and all Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, trains.

Extra trains will operate between Chicago and Quincy, and Chicago and Normal-Bloomington, Illinois, on Nov. 27 and Dec. 1.

But falling by the wayside are the additional Chicago-Holland, Michigan, and Chicago-Ann Arbor, Michigan, Thanksgiving holiday trains.

Pa. Thanksgiving Travel Will Require Reservations

November 1, 2019

Amtrak said in a service advisory that the change is being made to accommodate an increased number of travelers expected during the Thanksgiving holiday travel.

Reservations will not be required for monthly and 10-ride ticket holders.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Keystone Service trains will operate on a Saturday schedule.

Amtrak Performed Well Overall During Holiday Period

November 29, 2018

Amtrak performed reasonably well in winter weather conditions in Chicago during the Thanksgiving travel period, Trains magazine reported.

On the day before Thanksgiving 28 of the 32 trains departed on time with just one significant delay.

The Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, Saluki was two hours tardy leaving from Union Station due to a mechanical problem with the equipment.

Trains reported that three other delayed trains were prompted by an ambitious turn of equipment arriving on late inbound trains.

Primarily, this occurred with extra holiday trains operating on the Wolverine Service, Pere Marquette, Lincoln Service and Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, routes.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving Amtrak trains largely departed without incident despite blizzard conditions in Chicago.

The Illinois Zephyr left 26 minutes late when it’s equipment arrived later than scheduled on an extra move from Quincy.

A locomotive compressor failure that occurred on Lincoln Service train No. 304 near Dwight, Illinois, led to that train being combined with No. 306 to complete the trip to Chicago.

Amtrak extra cars to some trains. The Blue Water had six coaches and two business-class cars. The Texas Eagle operated with an additional coach between Chicago and St. Louis.

Amtrak elected not to add a fifth coach to the Empire Builder between Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota.