Posts Tagged ‘Union Pacific’

Higher Speeds Continue to Elude Chicago-St. Louis Line

January 4, 2019

Although some $1.95 million has been spent to rebuild the Chicago-St. Louis corridor for speeds of 110 miles per hour operation, the route still has a top speed of 79 mph.

The Illinois Department of Transportation, which oversaw the rebuilding, had said 90 mph top speeds would be allowed in 2018, but that didn’t happen.

The agency is no longer willing to say when 110 mph running will be possible.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently reported that higher speeds have been kept at bay due to delays in installing and testing new GPS-related safety technology.

IDOT now says that a top speed of 90 mph will go into effect between Alton and Springfield next summer with those speeds being implemented on the rest of the route by the end of 2019.

A top speed of 90 mph would cut the 5.5 hour Chicago-St. Louis travel time by about 15 minutes.

Although IDOT had predicted at one point that the corridor would see 110 mph speeds by 2019, an agency spokesperson said host railroad Union Pacific is still working with the state to test and place into service a positive train control system that will allow those speeds.

UP owns 25 miles of the 285-mile Chicago-St. Louis route. Amtrak is also working with other carriers that own segments of the corridor to achieve higher speeds.

The spokesperson said it was difficult at the present time to estimate when 110-mph speeds will be permitted because further work is needed on the PTC systems.

The spokesperson also said Amtrak continues to upgrade software on its locomotives to communicate with the PTC system and IDOT is committed to working toward 110 mph speeds as soon as possible.

She said it also hinges on such other factors as how soon a second track is built in a national prairie area south of Joliet.

UP spokeswoman Hannah Bolte said her railroad is “100 percent committed” to doing what’s necessary to achieve 110 mph on the route, but added that the Federal Railroad Administration must approve the PTC systems.

Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, called the delays “incredibly frustrating,” but acknowledged that PTC testing will take time because the technology is new.

Even when the PTC systems are up and running the higher speeds on the route will be limited to rural areas outside the St. Louis and Chicago metro areas.


Funeral Train to Convey Bush in Texas

December 5, 2018

The body of President George H.W. Bush will travel via the Union Pacific on Thursday in Texas.

The Bush Funeral Train will operate from the Westfield Auto Facility at Spring, Texas, near Houston to College Station, Texas.

The passenger special is expected to depart at 1 p.m. and arrive 70 miles later at 3:25 p.m. at a location near Kyle Stadium, where Texas A&M plays its football games.

Motive power is expected to be provided by UP SD70ACe No. 4141, which is painted in Air Force One colors in tribute to Bush and his presidential museum and library.

New Las Vegas Rail Service Plan Surfaces

November 26, 2018

A private company has revived an earlier idea to offer intercity rail passenger service between Southern California and Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Railway Express said it plans to acquire and rebuild Bombardier commuter rail passenger cars that it will operate between Las Vegas and San Bernardino, California, on Union Pacific and BNSF tracks.

The company had in 2013 proposed a similar service known as X Train.

The latest idea could get underway next year, the company said.

The route has been without intercity rail service since May 1997 when Amtrak discontinued is Desert Wind, which carried through cars between Chicago and Los Angeles.

The cars were conveyed between Chicago and Salt Lake City on the California Zephyr.

Michael Barron, who is leading Las Vegas Railway Express, told Trains magazine that he has yet to reach agreements with the Class 1 railroads involved as well as the Las Vegas’ Plaza Hotel and Casino where Amtrak once had a station.

If the service materializes, Barron expects to operate a weekly round trip that would leave San Bernardino around noon on Friday and return late Sunday afternoon.

Connections are expected to be available in San Bernardino with Metrolink commuter trains.

Barron told Trains that Metrolink has 56 stations and 12 million existing riders and is looking for opportunities to promote weekend traffic.

The 226-mile trip to Las Vegas is expected to take 4½ hours even though UP and Amtrak passenger trains didn’t cover that distance in less than five hours.

PTC Operating on Capitol Corridor

November 15, 2018

Positive train control has been installed and tested on the route in California used by Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor trains.

The development was announced by the Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority, Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad

The segment extends for 170 miles between San Jose and Auburn, California.

Amtrak’s California Zephyr and San Joaquin trains also use portions of the route.

In a news release, the CCJPA said it received Federal Railroad Administration approval on Oct. 24 to begin implementation of PTC.

Testing of the PTC system on the route had begun in July and PTC was enabled on a limited number of trains that were rotated throughout shared fleets of the Capital Corridor.

In early October, Amtrak deployed PTC on four weekday trains to test PTC on the Capitol Corridor route.

CZ Route Truncated Today

October 28, 2018

Track work being performed by Union Pacific today (Oct. 28, 2019), will affect operations of Amtrak’s California Zephyr.

Train No. 5 will operate between Chicago and Reno, Nevada, only.

Amtrak said alternate bus transportation will be provided between Reno and Emeryville, operating on the normal schedule of train 5.

The buses will serve the missed stops of Truckee, Colfax, Roseville, Sacramento, Davis, Martinez and Richmond.

Train 6 will operate from Reno to Chicago only with alternate bus transportation provided on the schedule of No. 6 at Truckee, Colfax, Roseville, Sacramento, Davis, Martinez and Richmond.

Union Pacific Track Work to Put Some Lincoln Service Passengers on Buses

August 13, 2018

Track work being performed by Union Pacific between Aug. 28 and 30 will affect some Lincoln Service trains.

Amtrak said in a service advisory that Trains 301 and 303 will be cancelled with alternate transportation will be provided as outlined below:

Bus 3301 will operate limited service as Train 301 between Chicago and St. Louis to the missed stops at Chicago, Joliet, Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Alton and St. Louis.

Bus 3303 will operate as Train 303 between Chicago and St. Louis to all missed stops including Chicago, Summit, Joliet, Dwight, Pontiac, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville, Alton and St. Louis.

Bus 5003 will operate as Train 303 between Chicago and St. Louis making limited stops at Joliet, Bloomington-Normal, Springfield and Alton.

Trains 300 and 302 also will be cancelled with alternate transportation  provided as outlined below:

Bus 3300 will operate limited service between Springfield and Chicago as Train 300 making stops at Springfield, Lincoln, Bloomington-Normal, Pontiac, Dwight, Joliet, Summit and Chicago.

Bus 5000 will operate as Train 300 between Springfield and Chicago making limited stops at Springfield, Bloomington-Normal and Joliet.

Bus 3302 will operate between St. Louis and Chicago as Train 302 to all missed stops including Alton, Carlinville, Springfield, Lincoln, Bloomington-Normal, Pontiac, Dwight, Joliet and Summit.

Bus 5002 will operate will operate as Train 302 between St. Louis and Chicago making limited stops at Alton, Springfield, Bloomington-Normal and Joliet, only.

The buses will earlier than the respective trains they are replacing.

UP Reopens Tunnel on Coast Starlight Route

June 21, 2018

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight is expected to resume service soon over its entire length after Union Pacific reopened a tunnel that had been blocked by a cave-in in Oregon on the railroad’s Cascade Subdivision.

Service had been suspended for nearly a month although Amtrak for a time was taking passenger by bus around the closed section of track.

The tunnel collapsed on May 29 while maintenance work, which affected 40 to 50 feet of track.

UP said it will take several days for traffic flow in the area to return to normal.

Track Work to Disrupt Coast Starlight

May 22, 2018

Union Pacific track work will disrupt the operations of Amtrak’s Coast Starlight late this month and early next month in Oregon.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that on May 28 and 29 and on June 5, Train No. 11 will terminate at Eugene. Buses will transport passengers between Eugene and Klamath Falls, stopping at Chemult.

The train may be delayed between 30 and 60 minutes departing Klamath Falls.

On the same dates, Train No. 14 will terminate at Klamath Falls with buses operating between Klamath Falls and Eugene, stopping at Chemult.

A connection to Train No. 28, the eastbound Empire Builder, at Portland will be made via Bus 5528 at Eugene.

On the days of service disruptions, Train No. 14 may be delayed between 6 and 7 hours.

On June 5, Train No. 14 will not depart Klamath Falls until 10:45 a.m.

Marfa Seeks to be Sunset Limited Stop

February 12, 2018

Amtrak is considering establishing a stop in Marfa, Texas, for its New Orleans-Los Angeles Sunset Limited that would supplant a long-time station in Sanderson.

The move, if done, would be the culmination of a campaign by San Antonio resident Bruce Flohr.

Flohr, a former Southern Pacific manager, has been pushing for the stop in Marfa because he said the station in Sanderson is underused.

He said that Amtrak Vice President Bob Dorsch told him in a letter that the passenger carrier would look into the proposal in its long-term plan but would make no decision in the next two to five years.

In a follow-up letter, Dorsch said the decision will now be made by the end of this summer.

“After we looked at the info from [Flohr], we’ve started an analysis of the stop. It seems to make sense and is something we’ll definitely look into,” Dorsch said. “It’s one of the things we have in deep discussion.”

Flohr became interested in the matter after taking Amtrak No. 1 from San Antonio to Alpine, Texas.

He actually was traveling to Marfa.  “Nobody got on or off in Sanderson. The stop lasted for around 28 seconds,” Flohr said. “There’s also no platform, no building, no outdoor lighting, nor is it in compliance with the [Americans With Disabilities Act]. There would definitely be a demand for a stop in Marfa. It’s not that complex of an issue.”

The former SP depot in Sanderson was razed in October 2012.

Creating a stop in Marfa will need local financial backing to build a platform that meets ADA and other federal requirements.

Flohr said Marfa residents need to write letters to Amtrak, Union Pacific and elected officials to lobby for the stop.

“Now is the time for you all in Marfa to take action. I encourage everyone to write to [congressman] Will Hurd. Government agencies tend to react a whole lot more if they hear from elected officials,” he said.

Marfa has sought an Amtrak stop before with no success. In 2011, former Marfa Tourism director Terry “Tex” Toler led a campaign to get Amtrak to stop there.

Sunset Limited to Serve Flatonia, Texas

September 12, 2017

Amtrak’s Sunset Limited will begin serving Flatonia, Texas, at a date to be announced.

Union Pacific, which hosts the train, said it will allow the stop provided that a pocket track is built to enable Nos. 1 and 2 to pull off the Houston-San Antonio mainline while making it station stop.

The City of Flatonia has been seeking the stop for several years, being rebuffed by the railroad throughout that time.

The station will be located in downtown Flatonia between Market and Second Streets.