NS Derailment Sent Amtrak Trains Detouring

The Norfolk Southern derailment west of Toledo on Thursday morning (see story below) that blocked both mainline tracks of the Chicago Line played havoc with Amtrak operations, including an already excessively late westbound Lake Shore Limited.

Some Amtrak trains detoured around the wreckage via the route in southern Michigan used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains. This included the westbound Lake Shore Limited and the eastbound Capitol Limited that departed Chicago on Thursday night.

No. 49 left New York three minutes late on Wednesday but by the time it left Albany-Rensselaer, N.Y., it was just over six hours behind schedule. That ballooned to eight hours late by the time it departed Buffalo, N.Y.

Much of the tardiness was due to the Boston section, No. 448, arriving at South Station in Boston more than 10 hours late on Tuesday.

Whereas No. 448 is scheduled to arrive at 9:10 p.m., it didn’t reach South Station until 7:36 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

In ordinary circumstances, the equipment from inbound No. 448 has more than 12 hours before it is turned to become No. 449.

But on Wednesday No. 449 did not get out of South Station until 5:37 p.m., which is 5 hours and 42 minutes late.

Amtrak held No. 49 at Albany-Rensselaer for six hours until No. 449 arrived.

The cascading effect of late trains getting later had begun when No. 48 departed Chicago on Monday night at 11:25 p.m., which was nearly two hours off schedule.

The train then proceeded to lose time on its eastward journey, with much of the lost time occurring between Elkhart and Waterloo, Ind.

When it departed Waterloo, it was nearly eight hours late. No. 48 departed Cleveland at 2:20 p.m., on Tuesday, which was 8.5 hours late. It reached New York at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, which was just over 10 hour late.

Online reports on Thursday from a passenger aboard No. 49 on who posted the train’s progress on Trainorders.com, indicated that the Lake Shore left Toledo at 2:10 p.m., which was nearly eight hours late.

The train took much the same route that the former Amtrak Lake Cities took between Chicago and Toledo before it ceased serving Toledo in 1995.

Passengers aboard No. 49 en route to stations at Bryan, Ohio; and Waterloo, Elkhart and South Bend, Ind., disembarked at Toledo and rode a chartered bus to their destination.

A similar procedure played out for passengers aboard the eastbound Capitol Limited. They were taken by bus to South Bend, Elkhart and Waterloo on Thursday night. No. 30 does not stop at Bryan.

No. 49 reached Jackson, Mich., at 6:18 p.m. and Battle Creek at 7:09 p.m. where there was a crew change. Passengers were served dinner between 6 and 6:30 p.m., according to the online report.

“The on-board crew has been very pleasant and courteous,” the online report from aboard the train said. “Jason the Boston sleeper attendant and Susie in the cafe car (a 22-year Amtrak veteran) are great. Susie work for years in the Chicago reservation center until it closed and now works the cafe car on the Boston section of the Lake Shore.”

Detouring Nos. 49 and 30 were given a third P42 locomotive that could handle the high-speed section (110 mph authorized) of Amtrak’s Michigan Line.

No. 49 had P42 Nos. 35, 101 and 91 along with 15 cars. A photograph of the train posted on TO showed that all three sleepers were positioned at the rear of the train next to the Viewliner diner Indianapolis.

Ordinary operating practice is to have the Boston section sleeper as the second car behind the motive power.

No. 49 departed Battle Creek at 7:19 p.m. and then cleared Porter, Ind., at 8:05 p.m. CDT.

An online posted said he heard the NS Chicago West dispatcher say that he wanted to give No. 49 a “straight shot” as best he could, into Chicago.

The train arrived at Chicago Union Station just before 9 p.m. CDT.

The equipment on No. 49 that arrived in Chicago on Thursday night became the eastbound Lake Shore Limited that was scheduled to depart Thursday night.

Amtrak No. 30 picked up a pilot and cleared Porter at 8:51 p.m. CDT on Thursday.  It had locomotives 127, 23 and 202. High Iron Travel Rail Excursions Private Car Caritas was on the rear.

A passenger aboard the train said on TO that it reached Jackson, Mich., at about midnight.

No. 30 later departed Toledo at 4:59 a.m., which was 5 hours, 10 minutes late. It arrived in  Cleveland at 7:08 a.m., 5 hours and 23 minutes late.

In the meantime, No. 48 departed Chicago on Thursday night (actually Friday morning) at 1:46 a.m., which was 4 hours and 16 minutes late.

No. 48 did not detour via Michigan because NS had one track opened at the derailment site by the time No. 48 reached the Chicago Line.

It departed Elkhart at 5:26 a.m., 5 hours and 4 minutes late. It later departed Bryan at 6:45 a.m., which is 5 hours and 15 minutes late.

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