Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak service disruptions’

Railroads Continue to Prepare for Work Stoppage, Senators Introduce Bill to Impose Contract Terms

September 13, 2022

As railroads begin to embargo traffic ahead of a possible national railroad strike and/or lockout that could begin as early as Friday, legislation has been introduced in the Senate to settle the dispute.

Amtrak said it would suspend service on four long-distance routes in advance of a possible railroad work stoppage.

The Senate resolution would force railroad labor unions and railroads to accept the recommendations made last month by a presidential emergency board.

It was introduced by Sens. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi).

Negotiations for a new contract have been ongoing for more than two years with unions representing locomotive engineers and train conductors at loggerheads with management over wages, benefits and work rules.

To date, eight of the 12 railroad labor unions have reached tentative contract agreements with the National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents railroad management in the negotiations.

Those agreements have been described in statements issued by the two sides as generally following the recommendations of the PEB.

The PEB issued its recommendations on Aug. 16 and under federal law strikes and/or lockouts are prohibited for 30 days following that. The 30-day cooling off period will expire at 12:01 a.m. on Friday.

Amtrak said it will suspend service today on the routes of the Southwest Chief, Empire Builder, California Zephyr and portions of the route of the Texas Eagle.

The latter involves the Los Angeles to San Antonio segment of the Texas Eagle route, which overlaps with the route of the Sunset Limited.

The passenger carrier said suspensions could expand to all routes outside the Northeast Corridor by the end of the week.

The Amtrak statement said suspensions being imposed today will ensure that the affected trains can reach their endpoint terminals before a strike and/or lockout begins.

Although neither Amtrak or its workers are parties to the railroad labor negotiations, the passenger carrier uses track owned by freight railroads where a strike and/or lockout may occur.

In the event of a strike and/or lockout, Amtrak said it would continue operating trains that wholly use track that it owns or is owned by public agencies.

This includes the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington; the line between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts; the Empire Corridor between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York; and the Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

An Amtrak statement said passengers affected by service suspensions due to the labor dispute will be contacted and offered the opportunity to change their travel dates or offered a full refund of their fare without any cancellation fees.

In a related developments, Class 1 railroads have begun embargoing certain types of shipments starting today.

Norfolk Southern told its shippers that it will stop accepting intermodal and automotive traffic.

The NS notice said it will close the gates for loaded or empty intermodal units at its terminals as of noon Tuesday and would also stop accepting traffic at on-dock port facilities and privately owned intermodal terminals.

The notice said the gates would remain open for intermodal pickup until further notice. Customers using railroad-operated EMP and TMX containers will be unable to make reservations after 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday. They will be able to return empty containers to NS terminals as normal until further notice.

Automotive traffic gates will close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, with an embargo on auto traffic beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.

The railroad also said it is planning “for the orderly lay down of trains in the bulk network” and will contact customers moving bulk commodities in unit trains with specific details.

CSX has also began on Monday an embargo of “high hazardous, toxic by inhalation and poisonous by inhalation” cargo.

Albany Building Next to Amtrak Route Repaired

August 17, 2022

The emergency situation that forced a temporary suspension of Amtrak service through Albany, New York, has been resolved.

The city’s mayor said that a 12-story dilapidated building that officials feared might collapse in part onto tracks used by Amtrak has been repaired.

In late July Amtrak suspended the Lake Shore Limited, Ethan Allen Express and some Empire Service trains for a few days because officials feared a wall of the former Central Warehouse might collapse.

That action was taken following the completion of an engineering report.

Amtrak resumed operating past the structure on Aug. 1 although trains operated at restricted speed.

LSL Resumes Operating Through Albany

August 2, 2022

Amtrak resumed on Monday afternoon operating through Albany, New York, albeit at reduced speeds.

The passenger carrier last Thursday halted operations in Albany due to the danger of a wall of building near the tracks collapsing.

Pieces of the wall closest to the tracks of the 12-story Central Warehouse fell last week, which prompted the service suspension.

For three days Amtrak operated substitute bus service past the affected area for the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf and Ethan Allen Express.

The bus bridge operated between Amtrak stations in Schenectady and Albany-Rensselaer. No substitute bus service was arranged for two Empire Service trains that operate to Niagara Falls, New York.

Amtrak trains will operate at restricted speed past the vacant former cold storage facility.

CSX Track Work Affects Boston LSL Section

June 22, 2022

The second phase of a CSX track work program that began this week is affecting operations of the Boston section of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.

Nos. 448 and 449 will not operate between Albany-Rensselaer, New York, and Boston on Monday through Thursday through July 21.

Trains will operate as normal on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the construction period. The trains also will operate as normal on July 4.

Alternative transportation is being provided by bus to the Massachusetts stations of Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston South Station. No alternate transportation is being provided to the missed stop of Framingham.

Passengers ticketed to Back Bay will be bused to Boston  South Station and take an Amtrak or MBTA commuter train to Back Bay.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

Passengers at Worcester will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not occur at the Bus Terminal.

CSX Track Work Disrupts Boston LSL Section

June 16, 2022

Track work being performed by CSX in Massachusetts is disrupting operations of the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited through June 26.

The disruptions are occurring Monday through Thursday and seeing Nos. 448 and 449 originate and terminate at Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Alternative transportation is being provided to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston South Station.

No alternate transportation is being provided to Framingham and passengers going to or from Boston Back Bay station are being advised to take another Amtrak train or an MBTA commuter train between Back Bay and South Station.

Passengers boarding at South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

Passengers boarding at Worcester will board their bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not occur at the Bus Terminal

Capitol Limited to Resume Daily Operation

March 26, 2022

Starting Monday, Amtrak’s Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited will begin sharing train sets with the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

The move coincides with both trains resuming daily operation rather than the five-day-week operation they have been following since late January.

At that time the Capitol Limited began departing Chicago and Washington on Sunday through Thursday with no departures on Friday and Saturday.

At the time of the service reduction, Amtrak cited staffing shortages in reducing the operation of most long-distance trains from daily to five-days-a-week.

A report on the website of Trains magazine said the equipment from inbound No. 29 will make a same-day turn with minimal maintenance to become No. 21 for Texas.

Three days a week the Texas Eagle interchanges in San Antonio through cars to and from Los Angeles with the Sunset Limited.

Trains said the equipment sharing between the Eagle and Capitol will reduce the number of equipment sets needed to cover both trains from seven to six.

Currently, Amtrak assigns three equipment sets to Nos. 29 and 30 and four equipment sets to Nos. 21 and 22.

The trains will continue to be treated as separate for purposes of ticketing and those who are connecting from the Capitol to the Eagle or vice versa must disembark in Chicago rather than remain onboard.

The Eagle and Capitol have similar equipment sets of two coaches, a sleeping car and a Cross Country Café that serves as a dining car for sleeping car passengers and a café car for coach passengers.

The Eagle operates with a third coach between Chicago and St. Louis.

As part of the change, Amtrak plans to shift the federally-mandated 1,500 mile equipment inspection to St. Louis rather than Chicago.

To accommodate that, Amtrak is adding additional dwell time in St. Louis so that the Eagle will sit there for two hours in each direction.

During the St. Louis dwell time passengers will either have to disembark for the entire dwell time or remain in their coach seat or sleeping car room.

Amtrak wanted to retain the same schedule between St. Louis and San Antonio in both directions so it modified the schedule between Chicago and St. Louis.

No. 21 will now depart Chicago at 11:55 a.m. rather than the current 1:45 p.m. It will depart St. Louis at 9:22 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 3:21 p.m. Currently, No. 22 departs St. Louis at 7:55 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 1:22 p.m.

Currently, the St. Louis dwell time for the Texas Eagle in both directions is 30 minutes.

A potential challenge for the new schedule can occur if the inbound Capitol Limited is excessively late arriving in Chicago.

It is common for No. 29 to lose time while operating over host railroad Norfolk Southern west of Toledo.

In addition to the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle resuming daily operation, the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight will also begin operating daily next week.

Although Amtrak’s website shows all other long-distance trains now operating five days a week resuming daily operation on May 23, that is not guaranteed even though passengers are being allowed to book travel on days those trains currently do not operate.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Railway Age that the daily operation shown on the website for all long distance trains effective March 23 is the carrier’s spring schedule and the summer schedule has yet to be posted.

Amtrak has thus far declined to say how long the less-than-daily operation will continue.

That means the Lake Shore Limited, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Southwest Chief, California Zephyr and Empire Builder will continue to operate on their present five-days-a-week schedules.

Also uncertain is when the New York-Miami Silver Meteor will resume operation.

Some corridor services will resume operating on March 28, including all trains in the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor and some Empire Service trains that had been suspended between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

However, in the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini remain suspended.

The former departed Chicago in the morning while the latter departed Carbondale in late afternoon.

Some shuttle trains between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts, also remain suspended.

A few Northeast Corridor trains also have yet to return, including overnight Nos. 66 and 67 between Boston and Washington.

This is not the first time Amtrak has operated equipment sharing for long-distance trains in Chicago.

In past years the Capitol Limited has shared equipment with the Southwest Chief, the Texas Chief has shared equipment with the City of New Orleans, and the Empire Builder has shared equipment with the City of New Orleans.

Magliari told Railway Age that combining the equipment sets for the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle was done due to shortages of operating and maintenance employees.

Another factor, he said, is that both are one-night trains, rather than taking two nights.

Another Storm, Another Round of Cancellations

February 16, 2022

Here comes another winter storm and with it another round of Amtrak service cancellations, including a route serving Michigan.

In a service advisory, Amtrak cited “forecasted impacts from the winter storm and for the safety of our customers and employees.”

On Thursday (Feb. 17), Lincoln Service Nos. 304 and 305 (Chicago-St. Louis ) are cancelled. Lincoln Service trains 300, 301, 302, 303, 306 and 307 will operate as schedule.

Lincoln Service Nos. 300 and 301 are canceled on Friday (Feb. 18). Nos. 302, 303, 304, 305, 306 and 307 will operate as scheduled.

Also on Thursday, Missouri River Runner No. 313 is canceled from St. Louis to Kansas City, Missouri. Pere Marquette No. 370 is cancelled from Chicago to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On Friday (Feb. 18), Missouri River Runner No. 314 is canceled from Kansas City to St. Louis. Pere Marquette No. 371 is cancelled from Grand Rapids to Chicago.

Amtrak Updates Winter Storm Cancellations

February 3, 2022

Amtrak has updated its list of service cancellations and modifications due to winter storm Landon. The update includes service changes set for Friday.

Today (Feb. 3) the following trains have been cancelled:

The Cardinal from Chicago to New York; the Capitol Limited from Chicago to Washington; the Saluki from Carbondale, Illinois, to Chicago; the Illini from Chicago to Carbondale; Lincoln Service Nos. 300 and 302 from St. Louis to Chicago; the Pere Marquette from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Chicago; all Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Pontiac, Michigan; the Blue Water in both directions between Chicago and Port Huron, Michigan; the Missouri River Runners in both directions between St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri; the City of New Orleans in both directions between Chicago and New Orleans; and the Heartland Flyer from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas.

Some trains today will operate on modified schedules. They include the Vermonter, which will terminate and originate at New Haven, Connecticut; and the northbound Ethan Allen Express, which will terminate at Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

On Friday (Feb. 4) the Missouri River Runner is cancelled from Kansas City to St. Louis.

Also on Friday the Vermonter will terminate and originate in New Haven while the Ethan Allen Express will originate in Albany-Rensselaer.

Midwest Trains Cancelled Due to Winter Storm

February 2, 2022

Amtrak has canceled much of its Midwest corridor service and some long distance trains operating to and from Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday due to winter storm Landon.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the cancellations were made “for the safety of our customers and employees.”

Cancellations for Wednesday include the City of New Orleans in both directions between Chicago and New Orleans; the Cardinal from New York to Chicago; the Capitol Limited from Washington to Chicago; the Heartland Flyer from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth; the Saluki from Carbondale, Illinois, to Chicago; the Illini from Chicago to Carbondale; Lincoln Service Nos. 305 and 307 between Chicago and St. Louis; Missouri River Runner No. 313 from St. Louis to Kansas City, Missouri; Pere Marquette No. 370 from Chicago to Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Wolverine Service Nos. 354 and 355 between Chicago and Pontiac, Michigan.

Cancelled on Thursday will be the Blue Water in both directions between Chicago and Port Huron, Michigan; the Cardinal from Chicago to New York; the Capitol Limited from Chicago to Washington; the Heartland Flyer from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City; the Saluki from Carbondale to Chicago; Lincoln Service Nos. 300 and 302 between Chicago and St. Louis; Missouri River Runner No. 314 from Kansas City to St. Louis; the Pere Marquette from Grand Rapids to Chicago; and all Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Pontiac.

The Lake Shore Limited scheduled to depart Chicago today was already cancelled as part of the twice a week temporary service reductions Amtrak imposed in late January.

Amtrak Cancels Trains Due to Snowstorm

January 29, 2022

Amtrak announced Friday afternoon widespread service cancellations ahead of a winter storm expected to hit the Northeast today and dump up to two feet of snow in some areas.

Although most of the cancellations involve Eastern corridor services, some long-distance trains are affected, including the Lake Shore Limited.

Nos. 48 and 448 did not depart Chicago on Friday night. Combined with a scheduled cancellation of the Capitol Limited, this meant that no Amtrak trains for the East Coast departed Chicago on Friday.

Through late March, the Capitol is scheduled to skip departing Chicago and Washington on Fridays and Saturdays.

Amtrak’s website shows the Lake Shore still scheduled to leave Chicago Saturday night.

However, the westbound Lake Shore Limited from New York and Boston on Saturday has been cancelled, meaning there will be no Amtrak service from the East Coast to Chicago leaving today.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the northbound New York-Charlotte Carolinian will terminate in Washington on Saturday. The southbound Carolinian will originate in Washington on Sunday.

The same plan is in effect for the New York-Savannah, Georgia Palmetto.

The New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvania is thus far unaffected by the service cuts, but Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, via Philadelphia, will be limited. No Keystone trains will operate between Philadelphia and New York.

The Vermonter will be canceled Saturday the length of its route.

Empire Corridor service will be limited between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York, but the Maple Leaf and other trains to Niagara Falls, New York, are still scheduled to operate.

All service between New York and Boston, as well as the shuttle trains between Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut, are canceled on Saturday.

Also canceled are all Acela trains between Washington and New York. Four Northeast Regional trains, including two that operate into Virginia, have been scrubbed. Downeaster service between Boston and Maine will be limited.

On Sunday Northeast Regional Nos. 150 and 160 (Boston-New York) are cancelled as is Downeaster No. 690.

Northeast Regional No. 195 (Boston-Richmond, Virginia) will originate in New York as will No. 195 (Boston-Newport News, Virginia).