Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak late trains’

Late 48 in Mid Morning in Lake County

June 14, 2017

Akron Railroad Club member Jeff Troutman sent along this image of Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited passing through Painesville just past 9:33 a.m. on Tuesday.

At the time, No. 48 had departed Cleveland 3 hours, 17 minutes behind schedule.

An online report indicated that the lateness could be attributed in part to the need to replace a bad-ordered car in Chicago.

No. 48 was 2 hours, 38 minutes late leaving Chicago Union Station on Tuesday night.

As often happens, things didn’t get better from there. When it departed Syracuse, New York, on Tuesday afternoon, No. 48 was nearly 6 hours late.

The train arrived in New York City at 11:42 p.m., five hours and 19 minutes late. The Boston section arrived at 1:47 a.m., five hours and 46 minutes late.


3 Hours Late on Amtrak Anniversary Day

May 2, 2016




For Amtrak’s 45th birthday I submit these photos of Amtrak No. 48, the eastbound Lake Shore Limited at Willowick Ohio.

I wanted to do something for Amtrak’s anniversary but didn’t think of taking night photos. Amtrak cooperated by running No. 48 almost three hours late.

I had heard it was running with only one engine and thought perhaps it had trouble. It didn’t and came through Willowick at track speed and a healthy 11-car train.

It still has a heritage dining car of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy vintage – at least I think it was, but I didn’t get the number – and six Amfleet cars, five of them coaches, brought up the rear. Other than a new baggage car it looks pretty much like it always has the last couple decades.

Article and photographs by Todd Dillon

If You Want to be Ontime Aboard Amtrak, Then You Need to Get on or Off at an Endpoint City

March 9, 2016

Only once have I lived in an Amtrak endpoint city. Otherwise, I’ve lived in places at or near an intermediate station.

I mention that because in my experience your best chance for an on-time arrival or departure is at an endpoint city.

For 20 years I rode Amtrak twice a year to visit my dad when he lived in downstate Illinois.

The westbound Capitol Limited or Lake Shore Limited typically arrived late into Cleveland, but on several occasions No. 29 or Nol 49 were on-time or even early arriving into Chicago Union Station, where both terminate.

My connecting train, the Illini, almost always departed Chicago on time, but more often than not arrived late at my destination of Mattoon, Illinois.

I’ve observed this phenomenon on other routes, too. In May 2014, I rode the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle.

On TransportationWe left Chicago 1 hour, 12 minutes late due to being held for a more than four-hour late arriving Lake Shore Limited.

During the 2,200-mile journey we were upwards of two hours late at times, but arrived into Seattle 15 minutes early.

How was that possible?

The short answer is what Amtrak euphemistically calls “recovery time.”

It is built into the schedule to enable a late Amtrak train to make up time before arriving at an endpoint city.

You often find recovery time by examining the running time between an endpoint city and the next station.

The running time of the Capitol Limited from South Bend, Indiana, to Chicago is 1 hour, 54 minutes. The running time from Chicago to South Bend is 1 hour, 29 minutes.

For the Lake Shore Limited, the running time from South Bend to Chicago is two minutes longer, but exactly the same from Chicago as the Capitol Limited.

The City of New Orleans has a running time of 49 minutes from Chicago to Homewood, Illinois, a distance of 24 miles. Yet its inbound counterpart “needs” 1 hour, 16 minutes to travel the same distance.

As this is written, Amtrak and its host railroads are sparring in a rule-making proceeding by the Surface Transportation Board over on-time standards.

A 1973 federal law gives preference to passenger trains over freight trains and Amtrak is arguing for an absolute interpretation of that standard. The Association of American Railroads sees it differently.

The STB is not going to get involved in every instance in which an Amtrak train is late.

Rather, the issue is a repeated pattern of a host railroad favoring freight trains over passenger trains and/or the host railroad’s repeated failure to dispatch Amtrak trains in a manner that results in on-time performance.

Amtrak argues that when a train arrives or departs at intermediate stations should be taken into account when considering if a host railroad has engaged in a pattern of preferring its freight trains over passenger trains.

The ARR counters that Amtrak schedules are unrealistic given the operating and physical characteristics of today’s railroads.

Both parties want to have it both ways. It’s a bit cheeky for Amtrak to talk about on-time performance at intermediate stations when its own schedules are skewed in favor of endpoint cities.

When Amtrak and the State of Illinois were negotiating a contract a few years ago for the state to fund certain corridor trains, Amtrak refused to agree to an on-time standard for intermediate cities, insisting that only arrival and departure times from originating cities and terminus cities be included in the standard.

In short, if the Illini is late arriving in Mattoon, tough luck. Illinois only can reduce its payments to Amtrak if the Illini is late arriving in Carbondale or Chicago.

The AAR brief might have you believe that Amtrak imposes its schedules upon its host railroads.

The same brief mentions that individual railroads have negotiated agreements with Amtrak pertaining to on-time performance.

I find it hard to believe that any host railroad that has an “incentive” contract for Amtrak on-time performance would not have a major say in Amtrak schedules over its line.

Recovery time exists in part to benefit the host railroad so that it has a better chance of earning incentive payments.

The STB proceeding is about rules that may or may not have mean much in the daily performance of any given train on any given day.

Like any legal rules, the on-time standards the STB is considering would only come into play if Amtrak initiates a proceeding against a host railroad as it has done with Canadian National over its handling of Amtrak trains between Chicago and Carbondale.

Obviously, each party wants the rules slanted in favor of its own interests and positions of strength.

Amtrak hopes that if the rules favor it that will encourage host railroads to give Amtrak the benefit of the doubt more often than not when passenger trains and freight trains are in conflict.

From a passenger perspective, Amtrak’s position has appeal. The eastbound Capitol Limited is scheduled to arrive in Cleveland at 1:45 a.m. If it arrives at 2:15 a.m., it is a half-hour late as far as passengers getting off are concerned. It doesn’t matter that it arrived in Washington on time.

The interests of passengers might seem to be central to the STB proceedings but that isn’t necessarily the case.

Amtrak has already decided that although all passengers have an interest in arriving and departing on time, the interests of some passengers outweigh those of others.

That is why it is advantageous to get on at an originating city and get off at the end of the line. You’re more likely to leave and arrive when the schedules says that you will.

Amtrak Reaches Cleveland Before 6 a.m. Today

October 17, 2014

It may not be worth stopping the presses to report, but all four Amtrak trains serving Northeast Ohio arrived in Cleveland today (Friday, Oct. 17), before 6 a.m.

The eastbound Lake Shore Limited was a mere nine minutes late, even making up four minutes of time after leaving Elyria.

Alas, the eastbound Capitol Limited was the spoiler, having halted in Cleveland nearly 3.5 hours late at 5:44 a.m.

As for the westbound trains, No. 29 arrived at 3:31 a.m. (39 minutes late) and No. 49 arrived right behind it at 3:44 a.m. (7 minutes late).

How will those trains fare getting into Chicago? It is tough to say as the performance of Nos. 29 and 49 has been all over the map for the past few days.

On Thursday, No. 29 was 39 minutes late at Cleveland, but nearly two hours late arriving into Chicago. The Capitol got there at 10:37 a.m., whereas the scheduled arrival time is 8:45 a.m.

The Capitol Limited was just over an hour late into Cleveland on Wednesday and 1:34 late into Chicago. On Tuesday, it was 59 minutes late at Cleveland, but 3:35 late into Chicago.

No. 49 has followed a similar pattern. On Thursday, it was nearly 3 hours late at Cleveland and 4:11 late into Chicago. The scheduled arrival time in the Windy City for the Lake Shore Limited is 9:45 a.m.

On Wednesday, the Lake Shore Limited was 48 minutes late at Cleveland and 56 minutes late into Chicago. On Tuesday No. 49 was 44 minutes late into Cleveland, but 4:15 late into Chicago.

The eastbound Capitol Limited had its best day on Wednesday when it arrived in Cleveland 56 minutes late. The scheduled arrival time is 1:45 a.m.

No. 30 was 2:17 late on Thursday and nearly three hours late on Tuesday.

The eastbound Lake Shore Limited was 1:55 late on Thursday, 3:06 late on Wednesday and 6:37 late on Tuesday.

Neither Amtrak nor its passengers can be pleased with these performances although there is a glimmer of hope that things are looking up and the excessive late running that has plagued these trains over the past two months may become more of an abnormality rather than the rule.

Amtrak’s Woes Shown in Photographs

October 13, 2014
The Lake Shore Limited has just crossed Brookside Drive in Olmsted Falls on Sunday. It won't go much further as traffic is ahead of it.

The Lake Shore Limited has just crossed Brookside Drive in Olmsted Falls on Sunday. It won’t go much further as traffic is ahead of it.

Amtrak’s problems with tardiness between Chicago and Cleveland on the Norfolk Southern Chicago Line have been written about widely on this blog.

After taking this image on Sunday of a 5-hour late eastbound Lake Shore Limited at Olmsted Falls, it occurred to me that much of what hinders Amtrak can be seen here. But you need to know where to look.

Let’s start with the buckets in the foreground. More than a week ago new ties were laid aside Track No. 2 in preparation for track work.

On this day the work gang was west of here with a crew working at the Mapleway Drive grade crossing, which is a few blocks behind me.

Trains had to contact the foreman to get permission to pass the stop board. Look in front of the nose of the train. The intermediate signals at MP 195 display a stop indication for Track No. 2.

Look further and you’ll see why. An eastbound intermodal train is in the block ahead of the Amtrak.

Look at little to the left and you’ll see what appears to be a crude oil train parked in the Berea siding. Less than three minutes before I made this image an auto rack train went west on Track No. 1 and other trains were backed up behind it headed west.

No. 48 left Chicago on Saturday more than 3 hours late. Note the battered rear of the baggage car. This car is a Union Pacific coach built in 1960 that Amtrak converted to a baggage car.

Who knows how many miles it has racked up and the places it has seen. It could probably continue to roll on but Amtrak’s new Viewliner II baggage cars can’t get here fast enough to give it a respite.

No. 48 arrived into Cleveland at 11:19 a.m., 5 hours and 37 minutes late. It would reach New York Penn Station at 11:45 p.m., 5 hours and 20 minutes late.

When I posted this at 8:15 a.m. EDT today, No. 48 was running 3 hours late.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The rear of the westbound auto rack train passes the head end of No. 48. New ties line the shoulder of Track No. 2. Interestingly, there are no new ties (yet) along the shoulder of Track No. 1.

The rear of the westbound auto rack train passes the head end of No. 48. New ties line the shoulder of Track No. 2. Interestingly, there are no new ties (yet) along the shoulder of Track No. 1.

P42 No. 111 leads Amtrak No. 48 on Sunday. Can we call this an Amtrak bar code unit?

P42 No. 111 leads Amtrak No. 48 on Sunday. Can we call this an Amtrak bar code unit?


A bit of fall colors enlivens the scene.


Capitol, Lake Shore Resume Going to Chicago

October 12, 2014

Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited resumed operating to Chicago on Saturday after nearly a week of terminating and originating at Toledo.

The first westbound Capitol Limited to Chicago was greeted with a seven-hour delay between Alliance and Cleveland and finally limped into Chicago Union Station at 7:46 p.m., 11 hours late.

Before now, that would have resulted in the outbound No. 30 being significantly delayed, but Amtrak said it would put together another equipment set for the Capitol.

It apparently did that because No. 30 left on Saturday a mere mine minutes behind schedule.

However, the good fortune would not last. No. 30 departed Sunday morning from Cleveland 4 hours and 5 minutes late.

The westbound Lake Shore Limited fared better, although it was still very late. It departed Cleveland on Saturday 2 hours, 11 minutes late. It halted in Chicago at 3:14 p.m., 5.5 hours late.

No. 48 departed Chicago more than three hours late on account of the crew needing to rest. It was operating nearly four hours late Sunday morning. Its westbound counterpart departed Cleveland 1 hours, 16 minutes late on Sunday.

Amtrak still Terminating at Toledo

October 8, 2014

Amtrak will continued to originate and terminate the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited in Toledo through Oct. 11. The information was posted online and has not yet been provided on the Amtrak website.

Passengers will be transported between Chicago and Toledo via chartered buses. All intermediate stops will be served.

On Wednesday morning, the trains were running late, albeit not as late as they ran over the weekend.

The Amtrak “Track-a-Train” feature at 6:20 a.m. show No. 29 was running about an later whereas No. 48 was operating just over two hours late. No. 29 was about two hours late and No. 49 was nearly one-and-a-half hours late.

An online report indicated that No. 30 left Toledo just over an hour late at 12:52 a.m. and reached Pittsburgh at 7:06 a.m. No. 48 departed Toledo at 5:15 a.m., which was nearly two hours late.

On Tuesday, online reports indicated that No. 30 Toledo left at 1:53 a.m. on Tuesday rather than the scheduled 11:49 p.m. departure time. It arrived in Cleveland at 4:30 a.m. and was about three hours late into Pittsburgh.

No. 48 departed Toledo at 4:57 a.m. rather than the scheduled 3:20 a.m. It reached Cleveland at 8:11 a.m., which was almost 2.5 hours late.

Nos. 29 and 49 may have terminated at Toledo. Amtrak’s website would not provide status information for either train, saying that both had suffered a service disruption.

However, information kept on the site that hosts Amtrak status information showed that No. 49 departed Cleveland Tuesday morning two minutes late and that No. 29 left 2 hours and 11 minutes late. No. 29 was just 46 minutes late leaving Alliance.

The status file archive at Dixielandsoftware did not show times at any station west of Toledo for Nos. 29 or 49.

A report filed on by a passenger who was ticketed to travel from Chicago to Waterloo, Ind., on Monday described a chaotic boarding process and lack of communication.

Although the buses were apparently loaded by 6:30 p.m., 10 minutes before the Capitol Limited is scheduled to depart, they were held for connecting passengers from a late-arriving train.

Double Amtrak Entrée With a Creamsicle Treat

October 6, 2014
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.

All Aboard Ohio Asks Amtrak Passengers to Complain to the STB About Late Trains

October 3, 2014

Although Amtrak trains serving northern Ohio have been subject to long delays all summer, the Surface Transportation Board claims to have not received any complaints about freight railroad caused delays. Now, All Aboard Ohio is calling on Amtrak passengers to document and complain about lengthy delays en route.

The passenger advocacy group is calling for passengers to send email complaints to the STB at and provide the following information:

  • The train number
  • Approximate time(s) and location(s) of the delay(s)
  • Date(s) of the incident(s)
  • A brief explanation of why the delay was caused by the freight railroad.

The latter could include such things as an Amtrak train stopped while freight trains rolled by, or an announcement from the conductor that a signal problem or track work was to blame to the delay.

“That’s still the freight railroad’s responsibility as they own, maintain and manage the tracks/signals for nearly all of America’s Amtrak trains, including those that pass through Ohio,” All Aboard Ohio said in an email sent on Thursday. Most of the delays have been occurring on Norfolk Southern west of Cleveland.

The Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited have been incurring delays of 60 to 90 minutes between Cleveland and Elkhart, Ind. Over the 101 miles between Elkhart and Chicago delays can last for hours. Some Amtrak trains have traveled 45 miles in five hours.

Take, for example, the case of the westbound Capitol Limited, which left Cleveland on Thursday morning a mere 12 minutes late. Under normal circumstances, the schedule padding would likely ensure that those 12 minutes and then some would be made up before halting at Chicago Union Station.

But that’s not the case anymore. No. 29 promptly lost more than an hour and a half between Cleveland and Elyria. It continued to hover close to two hours late as it made its way west, leaving Elkhart 2 hours and 16 minutes late. It would lose another 2 hours before arriving in Chicago at 1:14 p.m.

As bad as that was, its eastbound counterpart had an even tougher time of it. No. 30 got out of Chicago 3.5 hours late and lost 3 more  hours before it reached South Bend. By the time it left Cleveland it was 9 hours late.

Why the late departure from Chicago? The equipment for No. 30 turns from the same day arrival of No. 29. On Wednesday, No. 29 reached Chicago at 3:49 p.m., 7 hours, 49 minutes late.

The departure time gets moved back so the crew can get its rest and the train gets serviced and restocked.

Amtrak passengers are not the only ones complaining about late trains. NS shippers are also suffering because freight is also experiencing horrific delays.

In some cases, freight trains get backed up when one or more of them must stop to change crews. But the new crew isn’t ready to come on duty and everyone sits, sometimes for hours.

Even when trains are moving they are subject to delay due to track work in Northwest Indiana that is supposed to add additional track capacity and, in theory, relieve traffic congestion.

How did things get to this point? All Aboard Ohio pointed to record shipments of intermodal freight and crude oil. With a bumper crop expected this year, grain shipments could also set records.

The railroad industry has talked much about its rising freight business, but NS has talked less about a new dispatch software package that it installed last January. All Aboard Ohio said the software needs a lot of debugging.

Unique to Amtrak is the reality that many of its stations between Chicago and Cleveland can only be accessed from one track. Thus, the dispatcher must weave Amtrak trains over and back to halt next to the platform in such cities as Elyria, Sandusky, Bryan and Waterloo.

Writing on his blog on the Trains magazine website, columnist Fred Fraley described what is happening on the Chicago Line as not a railroad in meltdown, but rather in dysfunction. “Everything gets done, but slowly and at great cost to the railroad and inconvenience to its freight customers and those of tenant Amtrak,” he wrote.

What happened this week on the NS Chicago Line in Indiana is happening on a lot of railroads right now.

“And it is happening because railroads are not prepared on key routes with the crews, locomotives, or track capacity they need to handle a surge of new business,” Fraley wrote.

Train 48 Where Are You?

September 25, 2014
Amtrak's eastbound Lake Shore Limited overtakes a CSX ethanol train in Conneaut, Ohio, last Friday. At the time, No. 48 was running nearly 3 hours behind schedule. Late running has become the norm for Amtrak trains that serve Northeast Ohio. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited overtakes a CSX ethanol train in Conneaut, Ohio, last Friday. At the time, No. 48 was running nearly 3 hours behind schedule. Late running has become the norm for Amtrak trains that serve Northeast Ohio. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

This might be old news, but Wednesday was a bad day for Amtrak trains that serve Northeast Ohio. OK, Amtrak has a had a lot of bad days this year. So what was so bad about this one?

At 7 a.m. on Thursday morning, the eastbound Lake Shore Limited that had departed Chicago on Tuesday night had still not reached New York City, according to the Amtrak website.

Or maybe it had and no one bothered to report the train’s arrival. The website estimated that No. 48 would arrive at Penn Station at 4:31 a.m., making it 10 hours late.

That train had left Cleveland just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday when it was 8 hours late.

No. 48 would lose nearly another two hours between Cleveland and Buffalo and was almost 10.5 hours late by the time it left Syracuse, N.Y. The last report for the train was out of Croton-Harmon, N.Y., at 3:51 a.m.

The excessively tardy eastbound Lake Shore had begun in what these days is all too typical fashion by departing Chicago Union Station just over an hour late on Tuesday night. By the time it reached its first stop, South Bend, Ind., it was 3.5 hours late.

No. 48 then needed nearly three hours to travel 17 miles to its next stop at Elkhart, Ind. The scheduled travel time is 23 minutes.

By the time the train left Toledo it was more than eight hours behind schedule.

An online report, though, indicated that an hour of that tardiness was due to the crew making a lengthy inspection of the two locomotives while parked at Toledo Central Station.

The report did not indicate why that inspection needed to occur, but it did report that Norfolk Southern’s Toledo Yard dispatcher was annoyed to learn of it when she called the train on the radio to ask if it was ready to go east. That was 20 minutes after it arrived.

The dispatcher had the 22W waiting for those 20 minutes to follow No. 48 out of town. This is a hotshot intermodal for NS and it, too, was running hours late according to the online report.

Earlier on Wednesday, the eastbound Capitol Limited also fell victim to the NS “black hole” between Chicago and South Bend.

No. 30 left Chicago one minute late but by the time it rolled out of South Bend, it was 5 hours, 12 minutes late.

It needed nearly 1.5 hours to reach Elkhart and was 8 hours, 15 minutes down when it departed Waterloo, Ind. The distance between South Bend and Waterloo is 72 miles and in “normal” circumstances No. 30 travels that distance in an hour and 14 minutes.

But conditions on the NS Chicago Line this summer have been far from normal with trains stacking up all over the place and the railroad pressed to find enough available crews to move its freight trains.

The eastbound Capitol Limited on Wednesday continued to lose time as it headed eastward, although in smaller increments. It arrived in Cleveland at 10:44 a.m. and pulled out 13 minutes later. By now it had topped the 9 hour tardiness mark.

It gained a few minutes en route to Pittsburgh, departing Alliance 8 hours and 54 minutes late and leaving the Steel City 8 hours, 51 minutes late.

But it would gain no more time. By the time it left Rockville, Md., at 10:21 p.m., No. 30 was just over 10 hours late.

Schedule padding enabled the train to halt at Washington Union Station 9.5 hours late at 10:45 p.m.

By then every same-day connection that No. 30 can make was gone. Well, not quite. No. 66, the Northeast Regional train to Boston that is scheduled to leave Washington at 10:10 p.m. was held and departed at 11:24 p.m.

Most passengers ticketed for connections in Chicago from the westbound Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited also were able to make their connections to Amtrak’s westbound trains.

The westbound Capitol was doing all that bad, relatively speaking, in its timekeeping. It left Alliance and Cleveland nearly 1.5 hour late on Wednesday morning. It got  out of Toledo 1 hour, 41 minutes late.

It would lose 26 minutes by the time it left Waterloo, but then fell into the NS “black hole,” leaving Elkhart and South Bend 4.5 hours late and halting at the Chicago Union Station bumper post at 2:36 p.m., nearly 6 hours late.

The westbound Lake Shore Limited faced the same story. It left New York City on time and was just over an hour late leaving Cleveland. That had increased to 1.5 hours late out of Toledo.

The tardiness reached 2.5 hours out of Bryan, Ohio, 4.5 hours out of Elkhart, and 5 hours, 18 minutes from South Bend. No. 49 reached Chicago at 3:25 p.m., 5 hours, 40 minutes late.

Amtrak held the westbound Southwest Chief for 50 minutes, which enabled connecting passengers from Nos. 29 and 49 to continue their trip uninterrupted if a bit frazzled.

The westbound California Zephyr was held for more than an hour before leaving at 4:03 p.m. The outbound Texas Eagle was held nearly 2 hours to accommodate connections from both trains.

But if you were connecting to the westbound Empire Builder, you were out of luck. No. 7 left at 2:17 p.m., two minutes late and didn’t connect with either No. 29 or 49.

Today (Thursday, Sept. 25), things are looking slightly better for the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

No. 30 departed the Cleveland Lake Front Station at 7:55 a.m. That is 6 hours late. No. 48 was not far behind and arrived at 8:09 a.m., That is 2 hours, 34 minutes late.

As for the westbound trains, No. 49 was running nearly 3 hours late and No. 29 was plugging along 48 minutes late. But it was on the brink of the NS “black hole,” so it’s anyone’s guess how it will fare into Chicago.

As for the New York-bound Lake Shore Limited that left Chicago on Tuesday night, the Amtrak website was finally updated. No. 48 arrived at Penn Station at 4:33 a.m., 10 hours and 10 minutes late.