Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’

CN Won’t Allow Amtrak to Extend Nos. 58/59

June 3, 2019

Amtrak has been pressing Canadian National without success to allow the City of New Orleans to operate as far south as Hammond, Louisiana, or Macomb, Mississippi.

For a few weeks Nos. 58 and 59 have been operating between Chicago and Jackson, Mississippi, after CN banned operation of the train over the Bonnet Carre Spillway near New Orleans.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway in an effort to mitigate the effects of flooding in the region.

However, CN freight trains have continued to operate over the spillway. This is not the first time that CN has not allowed Amtrak trains to operate over the spillway while it was open.

While the spillway is open Amtrak passengers bound for points south of Jackson have been riding a chartered bus.

The Rail Passengers Association said it has learned CN has denied Amtrak requests to allow the City of New Orleans to operate farther south.

However, the railroad has apparently agreed to allow Amtrak to operate the City to New Orleans and across the spillway if no passengers were on board.

Although CN has cited safety concerns for its not allowing the City to operate with passengers over the spillway while it is open, RPA speculated CN”s behavior might be rooted in negative public attention that it has received following Amtrak’s posting of report cars on its website in which it grades host railroads on their on-time performance.

RPA noted that CN received a D- on the latest report card.

In a service advisory posted on the Amtrak website, the carrier said the use of buses between Jackson and New Orleans would continue “until further notice.”

CONO Passengers Riding Bus Due to Flooding

March 3, 2019

Passengers aboard Amtrak’s City of New Orleans are riding buses between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi, after host railroad Canadian Railroad closed the route due to flooding.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the busing will continue until further notice and that rail service will resume as soon as possible.

The buses will stop at the affected intermediate stations of, Hazlehurst, Brookhaven and McComb in Mississippi, and Hammond, Louisiana.

Northbound passengers are being asked to arrive at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal by 12:15 p.m. to board the buses, which will depart at 1 p.m.

No. 58 is scheduled to depart New Orleans at 1:45 p.m.

The City continues to operate normally between Chicago and Jackson with the equipment from No. 59 turning at Jackson to make up No. 58 on the same day.

It is the third time in the past four years that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has opened floodgates on the Bonnet Carre Spillway south of Hammond to enable waters from the Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain.

CN crosses the spillway on a wood trestle and has closed the bridge as a precaution against times when open floodgates release heavy flows of water.

The Mississippi River isn’t expected to crest until mid-March due to extensive snow melt from the north.

With the Corps of Engineers planning to open more spillway gates, the busing of passengers for Nos. 58 and 59 could continue for some time.

In previous years Amtrak has turned the City at Hammond, but has chosen Jackson because it saves operating costs from not having to pay a crew to operate the train between Jackson and Hammond.

CONO Canceled in South Due to Flooding

March 16, 2018

Flooding in the South has resulted in Amtrak’s City of New Orleans being canceled between Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said host railroad Canadian National has closed the route. An unconfirmed online report attributed the flooding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opening the Bonnet Carré spillway, which expected to be open for 20 or more days.

When the spillway is open Amtrak trains are not permitted to cross its wooden trestle at the edge of Lake Pontchartrain.

Chartered buses are being provided between Jackson and New Orleans. Amtrak did not say when the route would reopen, only noting it would be as soon as possible.

Affected are passengers traveling to the intermediate stations of Hazlehurst, Brookhaven and McComb in Mississippi, and Hammond, Louisiana.

Passengers traveling north from New Orleans are asked to arrive at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal by 12:15  p.m. to board the buses. No. 58 normally depats NOUPT at 1:45 p.m.

City Manager Says New Amtrak Station Platform in Fort Madison May be Completed This Year

January 18, 2017

Amtrak is waiting on Federal Railroad Administration approval of a new platform reconstruction project in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Amtrak 4City officials said that although the project was projected to go out for bids in April, that is now more likely to occur in May or June. Construction is expected to take six to eight months.

The project will move the Amtrak stop for the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief to the former Santa Fe passenger station, which has recently been rehabilitated.

Fort Madison City manager David Varley said once the FRA signs off on the project the platform plans will be reviewed by BNSF, which owns the station site.

“The final construction plans have been submitted,” Varley said.

Once BNSF reviews the platform plans, they will be passed on to the Iowa Department of Transportation for its review. “IDOT will be the group that will be bidding out the project,” Varley said.

Also, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must issue a 404 permit because the Amtrak platform will be located in a flood plain.

“We are working on getting that permit, which is required,” Varley said. “We are trying to tie up some of the final paperwork and review of the final plans approved, and once that all gets together, we will get a definitive date as to when it will go on a schedule as to when it will go to be bid out.”

And then the Fort Madison City Council will need to approve the plans.

“We need to clarify what the duties and responsibilities of both parties are,” Varley said. “These have to be approved by both parties before the project goes out to bid and before construction starts.”

Despite having a lot of hoops to jump through, Varley does not expect any problems to crop up that will keep the platform from being built.