Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak 50th anniversary’

Catching Up with Amtrak’s New Livery

September 3, 2021

I bagged the Amtrak Phase VI unit on Thursday morning – one of them anyway).  I woke up hoping to get another shot at the Midnight Blue Amtrak 50th Anniversary engine – P42DC No. 100 – but realized he was on time and I would have to drive pretty far east to catch him. 

However another 50th Anniversary unit – P42DC No. 108 – was leading No. 49, the westbound Lake Shore Limited, and it was running almost three hours late. 

This one I decided to try for and I ended up catching him on the Sandusky Bay bridge and causeway at Danbury.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Combined Lake Shore Limited and Cardinal

August 21, 2021

The Cardinal’s equipment is on the rear of No. 48.

On Friday (Aug. 20) Amtrak combined the eastbound Cardinal and Lake Shore Limited as it ran through Northeast Ohio. 

This was due to a derailment in Indiana on Thursday morning but the Cardinal’s equipment had to be moved to New York. This made for an impressive 16 car train with three engines.

The reason I got up early however was because Amtrak P42DC No. 100, the Midnight Blue, and P42DC No. 46, the 50th Anniversary tribute locomotive, were both on the train.

I was hoping that it would be running a little late but alas the Late Shore did not live up to its reputation today as it was on time.  In fact it arrived 27 minutes early into Cleveland station.

I chased No. 48 east to Ashtabula hoping to get it in daylight and while the sun had started to rise it was pretty dark when it went by me at 6:40 a.m.

Also my camera misfired and cut off the nose of the 100.  At least the going away shot turned out nice. Oh well you can’t win them all.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

2 For Amtrak’s 50th Anniversary

May 3, 2021

I wanted to get out and photograph Amtrak on its 50th anniversary day last Saturday. I began my quest by setting next to the CSX Monon Subdivision south of Linden, Indiana, to capture the westbound Cardinal.

No. 51 was right on the money about 10 minutes past 5, having made a station stop, in Crawfordsville about 12 minutes earlier. It was about a half-hour after sunrise.

Next I motored over to east central Illinois to get the northbound Saluki, a corridor train funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation that originates in Carbondale and travels to Chicago.

No. 390 is shown above taking a signal at Humboldt, Illinois. It, too, was running on time.

None of the equipment seen in these photographs existed in 1971 and most of it had not been created yet as a concept.

The Amfleet coaches and food service car of the Cardinal come closest because Amfleet equipment was based on the design of the Budd Metroliners of the 1960s. Superliner equipment was inspired by the Hi-Level cars of the Santa Fe.

In 1971 EMD E and F units with a handful of passenger equipped geeps, U boats and SDs were the common motive power. It all wore the markings and liveries of its owners.

The Saluki does not normally operate with Superliner equipment, but has since Amtrak reduced the frequency of most long-distance trains last year to tri-weekly.

Starting May 24 Amtrak plans to begin to restore daily service to most long-distance trains — the Cardinal and Sunset Limited are exceptions — so the Superliners now on the Saluki probably will be replaced with Horizon and Amfleet equipment.

But not for long as Amtrak has begun taking delivery of and testing the new Siemens Venture cars and they are expected to begin revenue service later this year.

The long distance trains are also slated to begin receiving Charger locomotives similar to the SC-44 seen above pullking the Saluki albeit with a difference livery.

With Amtrak things are always changing even if it doesn’t always appear that way at first glance.

Amtrak Celebrates 50 Years

May 3, 2021

Expanding its network was the theme of the day as Amtrak celebrated its 50th anniversary on Friday at a ceremony in Philadelphia featuring President Joseph Biden.

Amtrak has announced a project to add service in corridors that would add up to 160 communities to its network over the next 15 years.

Amtrak CEO William Flynn said the expansion plan would provide Amtrak service to 47 of the nation’s 50 largest cities while also increasing service in more than half the 50 states.

“America needs a rail network that offers frequent, reliable, sustainable and equitable train service. Amtrak has the vision and expertise to deliver it, now we need Congress to provide the funding for the next 50 years,” Flynn said.

During his remarks, Biden endorsed the Amtrak expansion plan while playing up his proposed $2.3 billion infrastructure program.

“Today we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to position Amtrak, and rail, and intercity rail . . . to play a central role in our transformation of transportation and economic future,” Biden said.

Both the Biden infrastructure plan and the Amtrak expansion will need to win Congressional approval.

The Amtrak expansion plan does not include any new long-distance routes, instead focusing on short-distance corridors that in time would be supported by state and local governments.

Aside from a goal of having the new routes in place by 2035, Amtrak has not provided a timeline to begin initiating the service.

In its federal fiscal year 2022 budget request Amtrak is seeking funding to pay for the capital and initial operating costs of the new corridor services.

Amtrak Anniversary Saturday: Where Were You and What Were You Doing May 1, 1971?

April 30, 2021

Where were you on May 1, 1971? Did you do anything to observe, document or celebrate the transition between freight railroad operation of intercity passenger trains and Amtrak operation?

Maybe you were too young to remember or to have been aware of the day that Amtrak began. Or maybe you had yet to be born.

I was a senior in high school on the day Amtrak started. It was a Saturday just as the 50th anniversary this year is falling on a Saturday.

At the time I was living in Mattoon, Illinois, which would be a stop for Amtrak trains operated between Chicago and New Orleans, and Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois.

I recall seeing from my backyard the first New Orleans-bound Amtrak train from Chicago.

I was disappointed that it looked exactly like the Illinois Central City of New Orleans of the day before with locomotives and passenger cars wearing IC chocolate brown and orange with yellow striping.

Like all teenagers I was naïve about how the world worked. I had read in newspapers about this new Amtrak operation that was to begin on May 1.

Yet I was expecting the trains to look quite different than they had. In fact, it would be more than a year before I saw a passenger car or locomotive that had been repainted into Amtrak’s livery.

Aside from seeing the first Chicago to New Orleans Amtrak train I also saw the last IC passenger train to complete its final journey.

The last northbound City of New Miami had left its namesake city on April 30. Trains that left that day were to continue to their terminus.

Therefore, the last pre-Amtrak train to finish its trip that was not slated to be part of Amtrak would not halt for the final time until May 2.

The City of Miami would not be joining Amtrak. Instead, it passed through Mattoon around 3 p.m. just as it had for many years and rolled into history. The number of trains making their final runs was a major focus of news coverage of the coming of Amtrak.

Sometime that summer cars from other railroads began showing up in the consists of the Amtrak trains that served Mattoon.

It had always been a thrill for me to see whenever I could passenger cars from other railroads. It wasn’t something I got to see often.

That June, I began college although I wouldn’t begin living on campus until late August.

I sometimes saw Amtrak trains during my trips home and during school breaks and made mental notes as to how they had changed or not changed.

My first opportunity to ride an Amtrak train did not come until late 1972.

In looking back I recall having had a sense of something historic occurring but I’m not sure I realized the gravity of it.

I wish now I could have done more – far more, actually – to have experienced and documented those historic days.

But I didn’t have a camera, didn’t have much money, and didn’t have anyone who could have taken me to ride and/or photograph trains in their final hours.

Besides, I was in school and the only time I might have been able to do that would have been on weekends.

So I just followed what was happening by reading about it in the newspapers. I did, by the way, save some of those newspaper stories from April 30 and May 1.

Fifty years later I’ve ridden most Amtrak routes at least once and made thousands of photographs of Amtrak trains and related operations.

More than a decade ago I started collecting Amtrak system timetables and have a nearly complete set.

In fact the last printed Amtrak system timetable still sits on my desk. Dated Jan. 11, 2016, I refer to it often when looking up information for stories I’m writing about Amtrak.

My collection also includes some Amtrak memorabilia, including dining car menus, annual reports, and route guides.

My Amtrak photo collection may be vast, but not nearly as comprehensive as I wished that it was.

I wish I had photographed more or had the opportunity to photograph more widely during Amtrak’s first decade, which I still consider the most interesting one in its history.

Much of my collection of things Amtrak was prompted by my research for a book that was published by Indiana University Press in 2006 titled Amtrak in the Heartland.

I have had a keen interest in Amtrak since it began, probably because I’ve always had a passion for passenger trains.

In many ways, the company that calls itself America’s Railroad and I came of age at the same time and have grown older on parallel tracks.

I can’t remember a day when I wasn’t interested in Amtrak and can’t envision a time in which my interest in the history and current day affairs of the carrier will ever wane.

So, happy anniversary Amtrak; it’s been quite a ride we’ve had together.

Commentary by Craig Sanders

Biden to Help Amtrak Celebrate 50 Years

April 29, 2021

President Joseph Biden will participate in a ceremony on Saturday to mark Amtrak’s 50th anniversary.

The White House said the event will be held at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station where Biden also is expected to promote his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.

Biden became known as “Amtrak Joe” during his time as a senator when he commuted on Amtrak between Wilmington, Delaware, and Washington on a near-daily basis.

As vice president under Barack Obama Biden continued to sometimes ride Amtrak

Amtrak is expected to showcase some of its special livery locomotives during the Philadelphia event, including the Salute to Veterans ACS-46 and two P42DC locomotives that have received 50th-anniversary inspired liveries.

The latter includes the Midnight Blue No. 100 and No. 46, which has the current livery with a large 50th anniversary herald.

Other locomotives are slated to receive heritage and/or specially designed schemes, but those units have yet to be released for revenue service.

The Midnight Blue unit was released from the Beech Grove Shops near Indianapolis last weekend and was the trailing unit on Monday night’s Capitol Limited that departed Chicago en route to Washington.

In a related development, Amtrak said Thursday it is selling 50 percent off tickets to mark its anniversary.

The fares are available on select routes and come with a maximum fare of $50 per segment.

Reservations must be booked between April 28 and May 5 for travel between June 2 and Nov. 14.

More details and bookings can be done at Amtrak.com. Terms and conditions apply.

Amtrak’s Midnight Blue Unit Now on the Road

April 27, 2021

Amtrak’s one-off Midnight Blue livery is now in revenue service on P42DC No. 100.

The unit was released over the weekend from the Beech Grove shops in suburban Indianapolis and ferried to Chicago on Monday on the westbound Cardinal.

No. 100 was added to the Cardinal in Indianapolis along with a  baggage car, Superliner sleeping car, coach, and coach-baggage that had just been rebuilt at Beech Grove.

The Midnight Blue livery is one of a handful that Amtrak is creating to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Amtrak Launches 50th Anniversary Website

April 7, 2021

With less than a month to go before it observes its 50th anniversary, Amtrak has launched a website to celebrate the occasion.

The site can be found at https://www.amtrak.com/50th-anniversary

Amtrak describes the site as “a central hub for information about our five decades as America’s Railroad, innovative milestones along the way, and a spotlight on some of the employees that helped make it all happen.”

Each decade of Amtrak’s existence has its own pages of history and photographs that can be reached from the home page.

The site also is being used to sell 50th anniversary merchandise and offer “50 reasons to travel.” Additional content will be added to the site in the weeks and months ahead.

1st Amtrak 50th Anniversary Unit Out of Shop

March 20, 2021

The first of the special livery locomotives that Amtrak is rolling out to celebrate its 50th anniversary is out of the shop and ready for revenue service.

P42DC No. 46 will feature the blue and silver Phase V livery that has been standard for the past 20 years but with the company’s 50th anniversary herald on its flanks.

The herald contains a large golden “50” and the slogan “Connecting America for 50 Years.”

Amtrak this week released artist renditions of the designs that will grace P42DC and new Siemens ALC-42 locomotives being built that will be released this year.

No dates have been announced for when the special tribute locomotives will begin revenue service other than Amtrak saying in a news release that it will be “over the coming months.”

Amtrak also said its is working to design a Phase VII look that will be standard on most of the new Chargers that eventually will replace General Electric-built P42 and P40 locomotives assigned to the national network.

The first new ALC-42 is expected to arrive at Amtrak next month and undergo testing before being assigned to revenue service.

That unit, No. 301 will wear Amtrak’s Day 1 livery, which was a one-time design created by New York advertising agency Lippincott and Margulies.

The livery was applied to Penn Central E8A No. 4316 for a press event held on Amtrak’s inauguration day.

It featured a broad blue stripe with white accent slashes on the locomotive nose that was an extension of Amtrak’s “pointless arrow” herald that was applied to the flanks of No. 4316.

The unit ran in revenue service for a year before being repainted into Amtrak’s Phase I livery and being given roster number 322.

Dubbed the Day 1 livery, it will be applied to ALC-42 No. 301 currently being built by Siemens in Sacramento, California.

No. 301 will duplicate No. 4316 complete with a black carbody. It also will carry the 50th anniversary herald.

Amtrak last year had announced that the ALC-42 Chargers would wear a Phase VI livery.

As it turns out, just eight Chargers will have that livery: No. 300 and Nos.302 through 308.

The remaining Chargers will have the yet to be revealed Phase VII look.

The Phase VI livery has a dark blue carbody with white stripes along the top and bottom of the unit and a largely red nose.

One P42DC is slated to receive a one of a kind scheme known as midnight blue.

The livery is intended to be a tribute to Amtrak employees running trains overnight.

It has a dark blue carbody with white accent stripes and the 50th anniversary herald prominently displayed on the flanks.

Two more P42DC units will receive heritage liveries when they are repainted.

One unit will feature the modified “Dash 8 Phase III” livery that was applied to Amtrak’s P32-8BWH fleet when built by GE.

The Dash 8 scheme was designed by Amtrak’s Blair Slaughter and Cesar Vergara in 1991. All of the P32 fleet has since been repainted.

Another P42 will receive the Phase I livery. Amtrak has a P42, No. 156, in this livery, but it has been sidelined with collision damage.

Amtrak’s Matt Donnelly, the carrier’s lead brand communications specialist, said the Phase III and Phase I liveries will be applied to locomotives as part of their scheduled overhaul at the Beech Grove shops in Indianapolis.

Donnelly said Amtrak decided to celebrate its 50th anniversary with special tribute locomotives rather than events because the COVID-19 pandemic made the latter impractical.

“If you’re planning for a 50th anniversary, you’ve got to look at where you came from to see how far you’ve gone,” he told Trains magazine.

Donnelly said special tribute locomotives would be a good way to get the anniversary message out to all parts of the network.

Amtrak did something similar in 2011 for its 40th anniversary and some of the heritage units created then are still in revenue service today.

Even though the P42s will be replaced by Chargers, Donnelly said the special tribute P42 units should remain in service for several more years.

“A key part of the reason we’ve been able to do this is to take advantage of pre-budgeted life cycle maintenance for locomotives that were already slated to come out of revenue service to go through a programmed overhaul,” Donnelly said. “The P42’s that were going to get repainted anyway will be around at least for the next four or five years.”

One challenge facing Amtrak in designing a new look for its Charger locomotives is that although stripes have been a part of most of its earlier passenger car and locomotive schemes, the vents, grills, and doors of the Chargers preclude the use of stripes on those units.

Another facet of the 50th anniversary celebration is the offering of 17 merchandise items that are being sold at the Amtrak store at its website.

The merchandise includes such things as tee shirts, wine glasses, mixing glasses, luggage tags, an anniversary coin, 24-inch wall calendar, an 11-inch wall calendar and a set of 50th anniversary pins.

Amtrak’s 50th Anniversary Engine Low Key Affair

January 27, 2021

When Amtrak celebrated its 40th anniversary it repainted several locomotives in previous liveries.

Perhaps reflective of it financial issues as a result of plunging ridership and revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is taking a lower key approach to marking its 50th anniversary.

It has applied marking to P42DC No. 46 commemorating the occasion, but they are nothing more than the slogan “connecting America for 50 years.”

The numeral 50 is oversized on the flanks of the locomotive to the left of the Amtrak herald. Otherwise the locomotive retains its blue and silver Phase VI livery.

No. 46 recently passed through Northeast Ohio leading the Capitol Limited. Reportedly, the unit would have led the train that president-elect Joseph Biden had planned to ride to Washington for his Jan. 20 inauguration.

However, those plans were canceled for security reason. Instead No. 46 left the nation’s capital leading Train 29.

Amtrak does plan to introduce a new locomotive livery that will be applied to its new Siemens ALC-42 locomotives that will be assigned to pull national network trains.

Those locomotives are being built in California and are expected to be delivered in phases through 2024.