Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak eastern long-distance trains’

No Plans to End Long-Distance Trains Amtrak Executives Tell RPA

May 30, 2018

Amtrak executives have pledged to the Rail Passengers Association that the carrier has no plans to discontinue long-distance trains.

The pledge came during a meeting last week between RPA CEO Jim Mathews and Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson and Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Stephen Gardner.

Anderson said during the meeting that Amtrak will always have long-distance trains and it plans selective upgrades to some long-distance trains. Amtrak will also work to improve meal service aboard all trains.

Writing on the RPA blog, Mathews said that in the wake of the meeting that long-distance trains are no longer targets for elimination for now.

The meeting yielded information about Amtrak’s plans, including selectively upgrading what Anderson termed “epic, experiential” trains such as the Empire Builder and Coast Starlight

Anderson and Gardner also said Amtrak will issue soon a request for proposals to replace the carrier’s diesel locomotives.

Amtrak plans to move quickly to award a contract and begin getting locomotives built and into service.

A similar request for proposals is expected this year about the availability of single-level train sets and diesel multiple units with the aim of getting that equipment under contract and under construction.

This equipment is expected to be used on corridor type service of less than 600 miles and ideally no more than 400 miles.

Gardner described this as a “sweet spot” in which multiple daily frequencies can be offered with an optimized number of train sets so that fares and trip times can be competitive with other modes of transportation.

Although no time frame was given, Amtrak is planning to replaced its Superliner fleet, which Anderson and Gardner described as having reached the end of its reasonable service life.

They acknowledged that Amtrak will not refurbish the interiors of Superliner cars as it has been doing with Amfleet equipment and Acela Express train sets.

Anderson said the Superliners need new frames and therefore management has decided to replace the cars rather than rebuild them.

In a side note, Anderson and Gardner said the refurbishment of Amfleet I cars is nearly finished.

RPA has pressed Amtrak about its food service in the wake of an announcement in April that the carrier would on April 1 eliminate full-service dining on the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited in favor of cold meals for sleeping car passengers.

The Amtrak executives said that plan was always considered an experiment and the passenger carrier expects to introduce at least one hot meal offering at some point.

They said Amtrak wants to improve its food service system-wide and is prepared to spend money to do it.

Gardner said that in time Amtrak will upgrade its menus on the Capitol and Lake Shore and offer coach passengers the opportunity to buy meals from that menu in the diner or elsewhere.

In the meantime, Amtrak is seeking to renegotiate its food contracts, upgrade the quality of the food available, and implement a program for passengers to choose their meals ahead of time.

Once chosen, passengers will able to eat their meals when and where they want to eat, whether it be in a dining car, in their room or at their seat.

Amtrak also wants to go cashless, an idea that the carrier has discussed before but never implemented. On-board personnel will be given portable devices to charge passengers for food and beverages.

In a related development, Gardner said the new CAF diners sitting at the Hialeah shops near Miami will soon be in service. He said they are awaiting parts and modification.

Anderson and Gardner elaborated on their congressional testimony about the possibility that Amtrak will not operate on rail lines that are required to have positive train control by late this year but on which the equipment has not been installed.

Gardner said this is not a strategy to discontinue trains or routes, but rather a temporary action until PTC is installed.

Anderson indicated during the meeting that he is laser-focused on implementing an airline-style safety management system by the end of the year, which he said is required of Amtrak by FRA regulation following the National Transportation Safety Board’s implementation recommendation.

He said he has found that freight railroads have a “risk-tolerant” mindset by which “they’re perfectly willing to accept that they’ll wreck a train every three years.”

SMS has been used by airlines to assess individual risks to safe operation and identify specific mitigation steps for each risk.

Anderson said SMS has been proven in the aviation world to not only improve safety but to continuously drive down incidents and risk.

Amtrak plans to identify a range of ways to reach “PTC-equivalent” levels of safety in areas that aren’t fully PTC-compliant.

This includes such steps as issuing slow orders and spiking or blocking facing-point switches for mainline movement.

Different technologies will be deployed to assure accurate train location, sending the conductor up to the head end or, failing everything else, using buses to move passengers around an affected track segment.

Mathews wrote that his take away from the meeting is that that the nature of Amtrak service will evolve and change over time, but that the carrier is pursuing a growth strategy whose objective is to serve more Americans rather than fewer.

“In any case, the long-term shape of the national network will be determined by Congress, which makes the upcoming reauthorization of the surface transportation bill even more important to RPA and its members,” Mathews wrote.

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November ARRC eBulletin Examines 8-Year Life of the Last Amtrak Train to Serve Central Ohio

November 15, 2017

It has been 38 years since an Amtrak train last made a scheduled stop in Columbus or Dayton.

On paper that train, the New York/Washington-Kansas City National Limited should have been a success. It served 10 urban centers, the capitals of five states and crossed four Amtrak routes.

But trains don’t run on paper and the National Limited often led a tortured existence that it was unable to overcome when political pressures arose in the late 1980s to scale back the Amtrak network.

The cover story of the November 2017 eBulletin examines the life of Amtrak Nos. 30 and 31.

If you would like to receive a copy of this online magazine, send an email to csanders429@aol.com

Due to a technical glitch, some regular subscribers to the eBulletin failed to get their October issue. If you have missed an issue in the past two months, please let ARRC President Craig Sanders know via email and your email address will be reinstated to the subscriber list.

Amtrak 29 Make Another Daylight Appearance

July 16, 2017

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited rolls through Olmsted Falls, Ohio, late on Saturday morning.

For the third consecutive weekend, a very late Amtrak train made a daylight appearance in Northeast Ohio.

On Saturday, the westbound Capitol Limited halted in Cleveland at 10:44 a.m. and left at 10:55 a.m., seven hours and 56 minutes late.

The train had departed Washington on  Friday 4 hour and eight minutes late and lost another two hours before leaving Rockville, Maryland, 6 hours and 21 minutes down. Washington and Rockville are 16 miles apart.

An unconfirmed online report said that failure of the air conditioning system in two coaches was the cause of the delay leaving Washington.

It is not clear why No. 29 lost two more hours before getting out of the Washington metropolitan region.

After leaving Cleveland, No. 29 left Elyria at 11:23 a.m. and Sandusky at 12:08 p.m. It was nine hours and 15 minutes late when it departed Toledo at 2:37 p.m.

Needless to say, the Capitol Limited missed all of its connections with the western trains in Chicago, where it finally arrived at 5:42 p.m., which was 8 hours and 27 minutes late.

Also having severe timekeeping problems on Saturday was the westbound Cardinal. Between White Sulphur Springs and Alderson, West Virginia, it lost considerable time.

An online report suggested that No. 51 had a locomotive failure. The report said the train was seen with a CSX locomotive leading it.

The Cardinal arrived in Cincinnati at 8:34 a.m., 7 hours and three minutes late, and was 6 hours and 38 minutes late when it arrived in Indianapolis.

It finally reached Chicago at 3:59 p.m., for a final accounting of 5 hours, 59 minutes late.

Operating went much more smoothly for Amtrak on Sunday. No. 29 departed Cleveland

39 minutes late while its eastbound counterpart, No. 30, was 38 minutes late.

No. 48, the eastbound Lake Shore Limited was on time out of Cleveland after arriving 16 minute early. The westbound Lake Shore Limited was 27 minutes late at Elyria and 22 minutes down out of Toledo.

Another Sunday Another Very Late Amtrak Train

July 10, 2017

Well another Sunday and another late Amtrak train. This week it was the Capitol Limited’s turn. The lead engine had a traction motor fire while going up Sand Patch grade Saturday evening, disabling the unit and necessitating a freight unit to continue.

This made it about 10 hours late into Pittsburgh where Norfolk Southern 7630, a GE ES40DC,  took over duties. With a freight engine leading, No. 29 could only go about 50 miles per hour and continued to lose more time en route.

I caught it at the sag near Beloit, Ohio, about 11:30 a.m. It cleared Berea about 2 p.m. and as I write this article at about 9:30 p.m. the train has still not arrived in Chicago.

It would later arrive at Chicago Union Station at 9:52 p.m., 13 hours and 7 minutes late.

Besides the late train doing a daylight run across Ohio and Indiana, which is interesting itself, the train had five private cars trailing including a former Union Pacific dome observation car bringing up the rear.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

The Other LSL Did Much Better

July 7, 2017

Sunday, July 2, was not a good day to be a passenger aboard Amtrak’s westbound Lake Shore Limited.

First, the train was delayed for five hours due to flooding and track inspections between Albany and Utica, New York.

Then it ran into a Norfolk Southern work window in Ohio by which it had to make a roundabout detour move that added four more hours of delay.

By the time it reached Chicago at 7:27 p.m. it was nine hours, 42 minutes late.

But those riding the eastbound Lake Shore Limited only had to deal with the “standard” delays.

It was a mere 30 minutes late reaching New York Penn Station although it was over an hour late at some stations in New York state.

It it shown above cruising through Painesville, Ohio, east of Cleveland after departing the latter station 40 minutes off the advertised.

A noteworthy point about this train is that the P42DC locomotives pulling it are consecutively numbered 15 and 14.

LSL Boston Section Disrupted by Track Work

June 29, 2017

CSX track work will disrupt the operations of the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited through July 27,

Passengers traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester, Framingham and Boston (South Station) will take a bus from the Albany-Rensselaer station on the following dates:

  • June 24-29
  • July 8-13
  • July 26-27

Train 449 will not operate between Boston (South Station) and Albany on the following dates with passengers being bused from Boston (South Station), Framingham, Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield.

  • June 25-29
  • July 9-13
  • July 27, 2017

No alternative transportation will be provided to Boston Back Bay. Passengers are urged to contact MBTA for travel to and from Boston Back Bay.

Passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses while Framingham passengers will board all buses at the drop-off/pick-up area track 2 platform (at Waverly Street).

In Worcester, passengers should go downstairs to the intercity bus area and board the bus marked Premier Bus.

LSL Unaffected by Penn Station Changes

May 31, 2017

The Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited will not be affected by schedule changes that Amtrak is imposing this summer at New York Penn Station during a track renewal project.

The passenger carrier said on Tuesday that it will change its schedules between July 10 and Sept. 1 to reflect the reduced station capacity as workers undertake track and switch work.

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman said Amtrak would be affected the most by the schedule changes, which also will affect New Jersey Transit and Long Island Railroad trains.

One long-distance train, the New York-New Orleans Crescent, will terminate in Washington during the construction period. Passengers bound for points north of Washington will need to change trains in Washington.

Northeast Regional service will see three round trip trains New York and Washington canceled. New York-Boston service will operate at current levels.

Keystone Service will terminate in Philadelphia with one roundtrip terminating in Newark, New Jersey.  Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will be at current levels.

There will be no schedule changes for Acela Express service. Amtrak said it would announce changes to Empire Service later.

Amtrak said it decided to speed up previously planned projects to improve conditions and service reliability at the station following two derailments earlier this year.

“While we regret that this work requires some reduction in train service and disruption to passengers over the summer months, we believe it will ultimately be worth the investment in terms of increased reliability of passenger rail travel,” said Moorman in a news release.

In the May ARRC eBulletin

May 23, 2017

In November 1990 Akron Railroad Club member Paul Woodring was working for Amtrak and managed to wrangle an assignment covering the carrier’s publicity special that operated from Chicago to Pittsburgh and back to promote a pending reroute of the Capitol Limited and Broadway Limited.

At the time, both trains operated via the Fort Wayne Line between Chicago and Pittsburgh but had to find other routes due to Conrail downgrading the line.

The Broadway Limited began serving Akron while the Capitol Limited was routed via Cleveland.

In the cover story of the May 2017 ARRC eBulletin, Paul tells the story of how he got the assignment and what it was like to be on board the publicity special.

Paul took numerous photographs on and off the train, which are used to illustrate the feature.

Also in the May eBulletin is a preview of the program at the May 26 ARRC meeting and the latest railroad news.

To subscribe to the eBulletin or to receive a copy, send an email to csanders429@aol

A subscription or a single copy is free.

Cardinal, Hoosier State to be Rescheduled

April 28, 2017

Amtrak plans to reschedule the Cardinal and Hoosier State between Chicago and Indianapolis on May 1.

Trains 50 and 850 will operate 11 minutes earlier at all stations from Dyer to Indianapolis, departing Dyer at 6:44 p.m., Rensselaer at 7:35 p.m., Lafayette at 9:46 p.m. and Crawfordsville at 10:20 p.m. The arrival at Indianapolis will be 11:39 pm. All times shown are local.

Nos. 51 and 851 will be scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 10 a.m., five minutes earlier than the current schedule.

The Chicago to New York No. 50 originates in Chicago on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Train 850 originates in Chicago on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Train 51 runs between Indianapolis and Chicago on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Train 851 will originate in Indianapolis on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

No Injuries in LSL Chicago Derailment

March 29, 2017

No injuries were reported when the inbound Lake Shore Limited derailed at slow speed just outside of Chicago Union Station on Monday.

No. 49/449 was arriving at the station at 11:50 a.m. when three cars on the 11-car train left the rails.

Passengers in the three cars were helped into the cars that remained on the tracks.

The cause of the derailment is still being investigated, but the mishap occurred as the train was moving through a switch.

There were 197 passengers and nine crew members aboard. Damage to the passenger cars was minimal.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said there were no delays to Amtrak or Metra trains. However, a couple of Amtrak trains were held in the station to allow extra time for connecting passengers to transfer their luggage.