WB Amtrak Trains Terminated in Toledo

Headed for Chicago on Amtrak? You might actually find yourself getting off in Toledo and taking a bus the rest of the way.

That happened Sunday and Monday when Amtrak annulled the Capitol Limited on both days in the Glass City and halted the Lake Shore Limited there on Monday.

All of the trains that were annulled were running hours late and rather than risk them becoming even later as they tried to navigate the congested Norfolk Southern Chicago Line.

Late westbound arrivals in Chicago turn into late eastbound departures because Amtrak lacks spare equipment in Chicago to make up replacement trains when equipment arrives late.

It also lacks enough engineers and conductors to have a train crew available to go to work. Amtrak crews turn at Chicago and must do so within the maximum 12 hours on duty federal regulations.

“If the train is late getting to Chicago, it’s most likely going to be late eastbound while we’re servicing equipment and getting proper rest for our crews,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. “The result is to drive up our costs, dissatisfy our passengers, and create ‘never again’ riders.”

Hence, if Amtrak turns trains at Toledo, it avoids the prospect of a 10-hour late inbound train turning into a nearly equally late outbound one.

Today (Tuesday, Oct. 7), the Amtrak website showed Nos. 30 and 48 having a service disruption, but the Track-a-Train function on the site showed that No. 30 departed Cleveland 2 hours, 45 minutes, while No. 48 was running two hours late into Sandusky.

In recent weeks, the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited have routinely been operating three hours or more behind schedule.

The major problem has been congestion on the Norfolk Southern tracks used by Amtrak in northern Indiana and northern Ohio where parked freight trains have forced Amtrak trains to wait for hours until relief crews can be ferried to the NS freights.

During the 12 months that ended in August, the Capitol Limited arrived in Chicago or Washington within 30 minutes of schedule only 22.5 percent of the time, while the Lake Shore Limited reached Chicago or New York on time 30.8 percent of the time.

Then August came and the congestion got even worse. The Lake Shore reached New York within 30 minutes of schedule 6.5 percent of the time. That is two trips.

The westbound Lake Shore was late into Chicago every day of the month while the Capitol arrived on time once in each direction.

David Pidgeon, a Norfolk Southern spokesman, said the congestion is a product of “more trains and capacity challenges in the corridor between Chicago and Cleveland” because the freight traffic exceeds what the company handled before the 2008 recession.

“We generally have a cooperative relationship with Amtrak because we are each other’s landlords,” Pidgeon said. “We run on their network and they run on ours, so there’s plenty of business and personal incentive to keep the cooperation going. We want to keep freight and passenger trains moving, period.”

NS is currently constructing a 30-mile third main track between Chesterton and Gary in Northwest Indiana.

However, construction work there has exacerbated the congestion problems in a heavily industrialized area of steels miles and oil refineries.

The track here also hosts Amtrak trains headed to and from Michigan points.

NS spokesman Pidgeon said that the third track combined with the expansion of the yard in Bellevue are expected to east some of the congestion.

That “will ease the demand for space in Elkhart and hopefully significantly reduce transit times for our freight trains, keeping us moving and the network fluid,” he said.

Pidgeon said that NS has also purchased new locomotives and is hiring 100 new conductors. To alleviate crew shortages, NS is transferring 120 additional conductors to the

Cleveland-Chicago corridor .

More than Amtrak passengers have been inconvenienced by the delays.

Dan McMackin, a United Parcel Service spokesman, told the Toledo Blade that UPS has recently changed some rail routes that it uses to move packages in response to delays.

He did not confirm if UPS has moved traffic away from the NS route.

“We have seen some recent lower reliability in several lanes and are adjusting accordingly, with guidance from our rail service partners as to appropriate network corrections,” McMackin said. “While there have been lanes affected over the last several months, we expect long-term reliability to return and most of our adjustments are seen as temporary.”

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One Response to “WB Amtrak Trains Terminated in Toledo”

  1. James Says:

    Come on Federal Government we need high speed rail.
    It’s time to get off the freight lines!
    Jim

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