Double Amtrak Entrée With a Creamsicle Treat

The observation car on the rear of the eastbound Lake Shore Limited was one of many highlights of a Sunday of railfanning in Olmsted Falls.

The observation car on the rear of the eastbound Lake Shore Limited was one of many highlights of a Sunday of railfanning in Olmsted Falls.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do on Sunday as far as railfanning. The weather forecast called for sun and clouds.

Upon seeing that Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited were both running many, many hours late my Sunday plans were set.

With daylight Amtrak trains through Northeast Ohio no longer a sometimes thing, I decide to try to do an Amtrak double dip. I had been wanting to photograph the Lake Shore and Capitol on the same day. Here was my chance.

After getting to Olmsted Falls, I called Amtrak Julie to get a status report on the late trains.

The Amtrak website had not been working properly when I left home, rendering inoperative the reservations and train status functions. I would later learn that this problem would last for much of the day on Sunday.

But now the problems had migrated to Amtrak’s reservation phone number.

Instead of getting Julie, I heard a voice I’d never heard before saying that Amtrak was experiencing higher than normal call volumes.

Those who were calling to make a reservation were urged to call later or on Monday. Those who wished to speak to an agent were warned that the wait could exceed a half-hour. Those who just wanted train status were SOL. I would have to rely on my scanner, which, fortunately, was working just fine.

The NS radio channels were quite busy Sunday morning and the railroad was experiencing traffic congestion.

Two eastbound trains had locomotive problems and were stopped in the vicinity of CP Max. The powers that be decided to swap a locomotive from a westbound with one of the eastbounds, whose third and fourth units were not working properly.

West of Cleveland, an eastbound stack train, the 26T, had outlawed between Cleveland and Elyria. That reduced the Chicago Line to a single track but with the Cleveland Terminal tied up, it didn’t matter that much.

It was mostly sunny when I arrived but soon thereafter clouds rolled in and it was mostly overcast skies for much of the afternoon.

Newly-minted ties had been deposited along the south shoulder of Track No. 2. The track work that has made the Chicago Line a single track railroad on many days is moving eastward.

Amtrak No. 48 had left Chicago at 1:29 a.m., nearly four hours late. No. 30 had departed Union Station at 2:54 a.m., 8 hours and 14 minutes late.

And that was before they reached the usual congestion on the Norfolk Southern Chicago Line.

Already eight hours late, Amtrak No. 48 was held at CP 203. As the Toledo East dispatcher put it, “we have to wait for three westbounds to be flushed out of Cleveland before I can get you a route.”

With the westbound traffic out of the way, No. 48 came rolling through Olmsted Falls at 2:16 p.m. It would arrive at the Cleveland station at 2:29 p.m., nearly nine hours late, but not before signal problems at the Drawbridge.

It would finally reach New York Penn Station at 3:50 a.m., which is nearly 9.5 hours late. The rear of No. 48 offered a bonus with four private cars.

I am not sure of the heritage of the observation car, but the tail sign read “The Crescent.” Shades of the days when this was the way of the Great Steel Fleet.

I was aware that the Interstate heritage unit was in Sandusky on Saturday and there had been speculation that it might go east.

Due to a heads up from my friend Adam Barr, who had been unable to get trackside on Sunday, I learned that the NS 8105 was leading a 262 out of Sandusky. It followed the 34N, which had brought out a relief crew for the 26T. The 262 then went around the 26T.

This was the first time I had seen and photographed the Interstate H unit. The 26T followed the 262, albeit slowly. This long stack train had four units, but the fourth locomotive was dead and the third unit wasn’t getting any amps.

The crew discussed the problem with the Toledo East and Cleveland Terminal dispatchers, but I am not sure how the matter was resolved or if it got resolved. I had been about ready to give up on No. 30. For all I knew it might have been annulled in Toledo.

But I decided to stick it out a while longer and my persistence would soon pay off. I heard the Toledo East Dispatcher talking to Amtrak No. 30 to give it a speed restriction through a crossover.

It finally showed up at 4:15 and must have been further delayed because the arrival time at the station downtown in Cleveland was 4:51 p.m.

But what’s a few more minutes when you are already 15 hours late? For the record, No. 30 finally reached Washington Union Station at 5:35 a.m. Monday, 16 hours, 25 minutes late.

The late departure from Chicago on Saturday (Sunday) likely was due in part to the fact that No. 29 arrived at 5:49 p.m. (9 hours, 4 minutes late) on Saturday and the combination of crew rest and equipment servicing moved the departure time way off.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Amtrak No. 48 had to wait for three westbounds west of Olmsted Falls, but what another half-hour of delay when you are already running more than eight hours late?

Amtrak No. 48 had to wait for three westbounds west of Olmsted Falls, but what’s another half-hour of delay when you are already running more than eight hours late?

With tie replacement poised to start in Olmsted Falls, railfans won't have to worry about one train blocking another for awhile.

With tie replacement poised to start in Olmsted Falls, railfans won’t have to worry about one train blocking another for awhile.

I can now check another NS H unit off my "to do" list. What a sight this engine was.

I can now check another NS H unit off my “to do” list. What a sight this engine was.

A wide angle perspective of the NS 8105. It was my first heritage unit sighting since mid summer.

A wide angle perspective of the NS 8105 also featured some interesting cloud patterns and side sunlight just as the train arrived.

It is not quite storm light, but a large crease in the clouds created a nice contrast between the white trailers of the two intermodal trains and the dark clouds to the east.

It is not quite storm light, but a large crease in the clouds created a nice contrast between the white trailers of the two intermodal trains and the dark clouds to the east.

Being persistent paid off in achieving my goal of photograph two late Amtrak trains on the same day in Northeast Ohio.

Being persistent paid off in achieving my goal of photographing two late Amtrak trains on the same day in Northeast Ohio.

No private cars on the rear of the 15-hour late eastbound Capitol Limited, but it was the first time I've photographed that train in Olmsted Falls.

No private cars on the rear of the 15-hour late eastbound Capitol Limited, but it was the first time I’ve photographed that train in Olmsted Falls.

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