Posts Tagged ‘Union Pacific’

Texas Eagle to Detour in Texas May 24-June 21

May 16, 2017

The detours just keep coming for Amtrak’s Texas Eagle. Nos. 21 and 22 will detour in in Texas between Longview and Taylor starting May 24 and extending through June 21.

Passengers at intermediate stations will begin or end their journey on a chartered bus.

The buses will travel southbound from Longview and northbound from Austin.

The Eagle will not be serving Dallas or Fort Worth, but will be using a freight-only route that will be faster than the train’s normal route.

No. 21 will use a former Cotton Belt route between Big Sandy and Tyler, then a former Southern Pacific route to Corsicana, then the former Texas & New Orleans to Hearne, Texas, before getting on the former Missouri Pacific west to Taylor.

No. 22 will use the ex-MoPac from Taylor to Longview via Hearne, Buffalo, Palestine and Jacksonville.

“This detour will provide the opportunity for some unusual mileage for rare mileage fans,” Amtrak said in an email sent to ticketed passengers affected by the Texas detour.

No. 21 will depart all stations between Chicago and Longview one hour later than scheduled, but is expected to resume its regular schedule at Taylor.

No. 22 will operate on its regular schedule from San Antonio to Taylor, but run an hour earlier from Longview to Chicago.

The detour has been prompted by extensive track work by Union Pacific between Longview and Dallas.

The Texas detour will come on the heels of a detour between Chicago and St. Louis between May 16 and May 23, although No. 22 will use the detour route through May 24.

That rerouting involves the former Chicago & Eastern Illinois passenger route via Pana and Villa Grove, Illinois.

Missouri River Runners May Resume on Saturday

May 6, 2017

Amtrak expects to resume service on Saturday between St. Louis and Kansas City after Union Pacific reopened its route between the two cities.

UP also said it has restored service on the line used by the Texas Eagle between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

“As water levels recede in several areas, we have made significant progress restoring service to flood-impacted rail lines on our network,” UP said in a service advisory. “Service has been restored between St. Louis and Jefferson City, Missouri; and between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

Flooding from heavy rains washed out tracks and also caused mudslides during the past week.

The Missouri River Runners between St. Louis and Kansas City were replaced by buses during the service disruption.

Flooding Cancels Missouri River Runners

May 4, 2017

Flooding in Missouri has prompted Amtrak to substitute buses for the Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the twice-daily roundtrips Runners are expected to be sidelined until Saturday due to flooding that has closed the Union Pacific route used by the trains.

Amtrak is chartering buses to replace the canceled trains but service may be unavailable to some cities due to local road closures and/or bus availability.

The buses are also unable to fully match the Amtrak schedules, Amtrak said in the advisory.

It was the second time this week that flooding in Missouri has disrupted Amtrak service. The Texas Eagle has been forced to detour between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff due to flooding along it regular route.

Union Pacific said in a service advisory that the Meramec River near St. Louis is rising rapidly, leading to additional flooding and cutting off rail access from St. Louis to Jefferson City, Missouri. Several areas of track are currently underwater, with water levels continuing to rise as additional rain is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday.

“Service remains suspended between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Missouri; and Mt. Vernon and Chester, Illinois. Work to repair damage caused by washouts and mudslides along these areas of track continues where it is safe to do so,” UP said in its advisory.

Operating Issues Plague Amtrak Trains

May 3, 2017

Amtrak long distance trains serving the Midwest have been hit with a long list of woes that have caused service disruptions, detours and cancellations.

The Texas Eagle was forced to detour in southern Missouri after a washout on its route via the Union Pacific’s Iron Mountain Subdivision prompted a detour on the former Cotton Belt route between St. Louis and Polar Bluff, Missouri.

Consequently Nos. 21 and 22 missed the scheduled stop at Arcadia Valley, Missouri, and ran late, arriving in Chicago 11 hours late on Sunday.

The Southwest Chief was delayed by a spring snowstorm between Dodge City, Kansas, and Lamar, Colorado, on Sunday that led to No. 3 being more than 15 hours late arriving in Los Angeles.

BNSF personnel provided grade crossing protecting during whiteout conditions.

A head-on collision of two Canadian National trains at Money, Mississippi, on Sunday caused the City of New Orleans to be terminated en route.

Passengers were taken from bus from Memphis to New Orleans on Sunday and Monday.

Northbound passengers rode a bus from Jackson, Mississippi, to Memphis on both days.

A BNSF derailment on Monday led to the Empire Builder being detoured in both directions. Nos. 7 and 8 were expected to detour on Tuesday over a Union Pacific route between Spokane, Washington, and Sandpoint, Idaho.

Coast Starlight Disrupted until Mid-May

May 2, 2017

Amtrak has announced that the Coast Starlight will not operate between Sacramento, California, and Seattle through mid-May due to bridge damage on its Union Pacific Railroad route.

Nos. 11 and 14 will run on their normal schedule between Los Angeles and Sacramento, but Pacific Parlour Car service will not be available.

Coast Starlight passengers traveling between Seattle and Eugene are being referred to Cascades trains between those points.

Likewise, Coast Starlight customers traveling between Seattle and Eugene who are connecting to or from the Empire Builder in Seattle or Portland will be re-accommodated aboard the Amtrak Cascades.

Passengers ticketed for travel to or from Chico, Redding, Dunsmuir, California; or Klamath Falls and Chemult, Oregon should contact Amtrak at 800-USA-RAIL for further information and options, as there is no service at these cities.

During the duration of the service disruption, Redmond Airport-Cheult, Oregon, Thruway bus service Nos. 6111 and 6211 are suspended.

Thruway buses 6114 and 6214 will stop at Klamath Falls and Chemult, but there will not be a train connection in Klamath Falls.

The Coast Starlight service disruption was triggered by a UP freight train derailment on April 25 that damaged a bridge near Redding, California.

Amtrak said in a service advisory that UP is repairing the bridge and will restore service.

Coast Starlight Route Temporarily Severed

April 28, 2017

Operations of Amtrak’s Coast Starlight have been disrupted following a derailment of a Union Pacific freight train in the Sacramento River Canyon this week.

UP officials say that it will take up to a month to repair the damage and reopen the route.

The Seattle-Los Angeles Amtrak train continues to operate between Los Angeles and Sacramento, but has been canceled for now between Portland and Sacramento.

The freight train derailment occurred about 12 miles south of Dunsmuir, California, on a bridge.

UP is rerouting trains from Roseville, California, and Los Angeles as far east as Salt Lake City to reach Portland via Pocatello, Idaho.

Higher-priority cargo is being routed on the Feather River Canyon east from Roseville to Keddie, California, and then via the BNSF Inside Gateway route to Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Westbound Texas Eagle to Detour in Texas May 1-8

April 26, 2017

Amtrak’s westbound Texas Eagle is being detoured in Texas between May 1 and 8 due to track work being performed by Union Pacific.

The train will miss its scheduled stops at Marshall and Longview, Texas.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers boarding at Shreveport, Louisiana; Marshall, Texas; and Longview, Texas, will board Thruway bus 6421 to Mineola, Texas, where they will board Train 21/421.

Passengers on Nos. 21/421 who are traveling to Shreveport, Marshall and Longview will detrain at Mineola and ride Thruway bus 6121 to their destination. Bus 6121 will originate at Mineola instead of Longview.

Those on Nos. 21/421 who are scheduled to make connections with Thruway bus 6021 at Longview will also detrain at Mineola and take Thruway Bus 6021 to their destination. Bus 6021 will originate in Mineola instead of Longview.

During this period, Amtrak personnel will be available at Mineola to assist customers.

CZ Still Suspended West of Reno

February 24, 2017

Amtrak has again suspended operation of its California Zephyr over a portion of its route due to avalanche threats in Northern California.

amtrak-california-zephyrNos. 5 and 6 are temporarily suspended between Reno, Nevada, and Emeryville, California, due to Union Pacific suspending operating on its Donner Pass line between Colfax and Truckee.

Westbound trains will terminate in Reno while eastbounds will originate there. Service remains unchanged between Chicago and Reno.

Some passengers will be transported by bus between Reno and Emeryville.

Route closures had forced UP to focus traffic on its Donner Pass route and led Amtrak to cancel operation of the California Zephyr west of Salt Lake City for more than a week and half.

EB Sunset Limited to Run 2 Hours Earlier

February 14, 2017

Amtrak’s eastbound Sunset Limited will operate two hours earlier from Los Angeles to San Antonio between March 1 and April 5.

sunset-limitedThe change also affects the through cars from Los Angeles to Chicago that are conveyed by Train No. 2 as far east as San Antonio and interchanged to the Texas Eagle.

No. 2 will depart San Antonio at its scheduled time of 6:25 a.m.

The temporary schedule has the Sunset leaving Los Angeles at 8 p.m. and arriving in San Antonio at 2:50 a.m.

The schedule change is due to track work being performed by Union Pacific.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the schedule change will not affect Nos. 2/422 on March 12.

The earlier operation means that there will be no connection at Los Angeles for passengers arriving on the Coast Starlight from Seattle.

Coast Starlight connecting passengers will be directed to disembark at Sacramento, California, and board a bus to Los Angeles.

Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin customers who will not make their connection to Train 2/422 can contact Amtrak for train service options.

Can NIMBYs Kill the Hiawatha Expansion?

February 10, 2017

If Amtrak had just put on the three additional Hiawatha Service roundtrips that Illinois and Wisconsin want, no one except passengers and rail passenger advocates would have been the wiser.

But the proposed expansion of Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service isn’t going to work that way and as a result there has been a NIMBY uprising in suburban Chicago that threatens to scuttle the expansion.

Hiawatha 2The Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Transportation, which fund the existing service, want to expand the number of Chicago-Milwaukee trains from seven to 10.

As part of that expansion, a holding track for Canadian Pacific freight trains would be built in suburban Chicago.

Because public money is involved an environmental assessment, which examines various facets of the proposed expansion, was conducted.

Once that became public last October, the NIMBY opposition began, citing the usual arguments that opponents of new or expanded rail passenger service make everywhere, e.g., noise, pollution, increased traffic congestion, vibration and diminished property values.

What makes the suburban Chicago dispute different is that it involves a rail line that already has a high level of passenger service.

It is likely that many of the NIMBYs are regular or occasional Metra users. The property owners along the Chicago-Milwaukee route are accustomed to train traffic passing their neighborhoods. They may not like it, but they know they can’t stop it.

The news media coverage largely has failed to explain the particulars of why the holding track is part of the expansion plan. It is the result of operating constraints affecting three railroads and ordinary people don’t have much interest in such matters.

Freight trains bound for CP’s Bensenville Yard near Chicago O’Hare International Airport sometimes hold on the mainline north of Rondout in Lake Forest as they wait for permission to enter in Northbrook a Union Pacific route that CP trains use to access Bensenville Yard.

As early as 2007, WisDOT began studying traffic patterns on the Chicago-Milwaukee Route in preparation for expanded Hiawatha Service.

Computer modeling exercises and meetings of operating officials of the three railroads using the corridor – Amtrak, CP and Metra – identified choke points and operating challenges.

The proposed capital improvements that came out of those meetings – including the holding track – were designed to minimize the need for trains of all three railroads to wait on the mainline for other traffic to clear.

The holding track was a way of shifting where CP freights would sit as they waited for the UP to give permission to enter its territory.

Had the railroads agreed to host the expanded Hiawatha Service within the existing infrastructure, the NIMBY opposition would never have materialized because they would not have noticed the increase in Amtrak traffic.

The NIMBYs want the FRA to order that a full environmental impact statement be conducted, probably in the hope that it will confirm their point of view. They also are playing for time, hoping that the holding track idea will go away or that the railroads will build it somewhere else.

Some of the public officials who have jumped on the NIMBY train might be playing for federal and state money to make infrastructure improvements their cities could not afford otherwise.

In the end the Hiawatha expansion may never come about, but not necessarily because of the NIMBYs.

Additional passenger equipment is needed and it is unclear when that will become available. The new locomotives expected to be used on Amtrak Midwest corridor routes are being built, but new passenger cars have been delayed and there is a looming September deadline to spend the federal grant awarded to pay for those cars.

It also is unclear if Illinois and Wisconsin are committed to paying the operating costs of the additional Hiawathas. Keeping the funding level high enough to afford the existing corridor service of the two states is a challenge as it is.

Many of the arguments being made by the NIMBYs are unsubstantiated and emotionally overwrought. The FRA won’t take those seriously.

And some of the opposition by public officials is opportunistic. It doesn’t cost them to side with the NIMBYs and might gain them a few political brownie points. The FRA knows that, too.

What remains to be seen is whether this political posturing eventually will result in the political clout that could be brought to bear to kill the public funding needed to pay for the expanded service. This risk is just one of the prices today, of intercity passenger service.