Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak service suspensions’

Amtrak Reinstates Suspended Trains, Southwest Airlines Back to Near Normal Operations

December 31, 2022

Amtrak was back to normal on Friday with all trains that had been suspended in the past week back to their normal schedules.

For the first time in more than a week the Empire Builder departed Chicago en route to its West Coast terminals of Seattle and Portland. No service suspensions were posted on the Amtrak website.

The suspensions began four days before Christmas as a massive winter storm that brought subzero temperatures and heavy snow raced across the country, hitting the upper Midwest and western New York State particularly hard.

The same storm disrupted airline travel during the Christmas weekend but Southwest Airlines had particular difficulty coping with the storm and its aftermath.

The carrier cancelled approximately 5,800 flights between Dec. 22 and 29. On Friday Southwest operated most of its flights with the website Flightaware.com reporting that just 43 Southwest flights had been cancelled by 6 p.m. EST.

On a typical day Southwest operates 3,900 flights. Flightaware said that nationwide, airlines cancelled just 153 flights on Friday, which was the lowest number since before the winter storm arrived just before the Christmas weekend.

Most Southwest flights scheduled to operate this past week from Cleveland Hopkins Airport were cancelled.

Every Southwest flight out of Hopkins on Monday was scrapped and only a handful of flights operated Tuesday through Thursday.

Most Southwest flight from Cleveland operate to Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Nashville, Atlanta and Baltimore.

Some Southwest passengers from Cleveland were told the soonest they could be accommodated would be Saturday.

LSL, Midwest Corridor Trains Back on Track

December 28, 2022

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited returned to service on Wednesday and no Midwest Corridor trains have been cancelled for Thursday.

Some services remain suspended in New York State and a handful of Midwest trains were cancelled on Wednesday.

Trains that did not operate on Wednesday included Woverine Service Nos. 351 and 353 between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac); Lincoln Service No. 300 from St. Louis to Chicago; Blue Water No. 365 from Port Huron, Michigan, to Chicago; and Illinois Zephyr No. 382 from Quincy, Illinois, to Chicago.

In New York State, cancellations for Thursday include the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf between Toronto and Rochester; Empire Service No. 250 between Niagara Falls and Albany -Rensselaer; and Empire Service Trains 281, 281 and 284 between Niagara Falls and Syracuse.

The Empire Service trains will operate to and from New York City east of Rochester and Syracuse.

Amtrak’s Empire Builder has resumed operating between Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota, for remains suspended west of St. Paul.

Capitol Limited Back in Service, LSL and Some Michigan Trains Still Suspended

December 27, 2022

Amtrak began getting back to normal in Northeast Ohio on Wednesday with the resumption of the Capitol Limited in both directions.

Nos. 29 and 30 departed their respective terminals of Washington and Chicago for the first time in nearly a week, although No. 29 did leave Washington on Sunday.

No. 30 passed the Elkhart rail camera on Tuesday night with its usual consist of five Superliner cars but also had a Viewliner baggage car on the rear

The Lake Shore Limited, however, did not depart Chicago, New York  or Boston on Tuesday.

Amtrak corridor services in Michigan remained sidelined on two routes on Tuesday with some service suspensions still in effect on Wednesday.

However, Amtrak said it is providing substitute bus service for some cancelled Midwest corridor trains and at the time the advisory was issued was trying to line up alternative bus transportation for other trains.

Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) that did not operate on Tuesday included Nos. 352, 354 and 353. Nos. 351 and 353 will not operate on Wednesday.

The Blue Water did not operate in either direction on Tuesday and will not operate from Port Huron to Chicago on Wednesday.

Lincoln Service trains between Chicago and St. Louis that were cancelled on Tuesday included Nos. 305 and 315. No. 300 will not operate on Wednesday.

Also cancelled on Tuesday was the Missouri River Runner No. 318 from Kansas City to St. Louis, and the Illinois Zephyr between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois. The Quincy to Chicago Zephyr is cancelled for Wednesday as well.

In the East, the Maple Leaf was canceled between Toronto and Rochester, New York on Tuesday and will not operate on Wednesday between those cities, either.

Empire Service No. 280 was cancelled from Niagara Falls and Albany-Rensselaer for Dec. 27 and 28.

Cancelled between Niagara Falls and Syracuse for Dec 27 and 28 are Empire Service Nos. 281, 281 and 284.

In the West, the Empire Builder was cancelled the length of its route westbound on Tuesday. However, the eastbound Builder operated from St. Paul, Minnesota to Chicago while being cancelled between Seattle/Portland and St. Paul.

VIA Rail Canada began resuming service on Tuesday on a modified schedule that saw some trains combined in the Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa corridors.

The Canadian carrier had cancelled all trains on those corridors on Dec. 25 and 26, in part due to a freight train derailment that blocked the tracks.

VIA was set to operate 14 trains in those corridors rather than the normal 28.

Rail passenger service was not the only transportation mode disrupted by severe winter weather in the past several days.

Southwest Airlines canceled 2,886 flights on Monday, about 70 percent of its schedule. It cancelled 60 percent of its Tuesday flights. The cancellations left thousands of air travelers stranded.

The airline said on Tuesday it would operate about a third of its scheduled flights in the coming days as it seeks to recover from a service meltdown.

It setup a website, www.Southwest.com/traveldisruption, where passengers could contact the airline to rebook travel or request a refund of their fare.

The U.S. Transportation Department has launched an investigation into Southwest and its cancelled flights, which the agency described as “unacceptable.”

DOT said it was concerned about Southwest’s “failure to properly support customers experiencing a cancellation or delay.”

The CEO of Southwest, Bob Jordan, released a three-minute video statement on Tuesday in which he said he is “truly sorry” for the airline’s failures over the holiday weekend.

Southwest was not the only airline to cancel thousands of flights last weekend but has been much slower than other carriers to recover from the service disruptions triggered by a winter storm that brought subzero temperatures and heavy snow.

Another factor behind the cancellations of flights and Amtrak trains has been staffing shortages.

In his video statement, Jordan said some of Southwest’s problems can be attributed to how it has set up its network.

“We build our flight schedule around communities, not hubs, so we are the largest airline in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S., cities where large numbers of scheduled flights simultaneously froze as record bitter cold brought challenges for all airlines,” he said.

Over the next several days Southwest will be working to reposition planes and personnel in order to “reset” its service. That will mean ferrying some planes without passengers.

One of the hardest hit cities has been Buffalo, New York, where officials issued a travel ban after more than four feet of lake effect snow fell on the region.

Buffalo Niagara International Airport will be shut down until Wednesday. News reports indicate that 29 people have died since the onset of the winter storm in the Buffalo region.

Amtrak Updates Winter Service Suspensions

December 24, 2022

Amtrak on Friday updated its winter storm service cancellations list to include additional service suspensions through Christmas Day.

The service suspensions will hit Midwest corridor service the hardest but the latest round of cancellations also include some eastern corridor trains serving New York State and Vermont.

In the Midwest, Lincoln Service trains 300, 301, 305 and 306 will not resume operating until Dec. 26.

Other Midwest corridor trains that are cancelled through Dec. 26 include Nos. 311 and 316, the Missouri River Runner between St. Louis and Kansas City; Hiawatha Service Nos. Trains 329, 332, 333, 336, 337, 340 and 343 between Chicago and Milwaukee; and Wolverine Service Nos.  352 and 353 between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

The Pere Marquette from Chicago to Grand Rapids will not operate on Dec. 24, but will resume operations on Dec. 25. Its westbound counterpart No. 371 will not resume operating from Grand Rapids to Chicago until Dec. 26.

Other trains on routes linking Chicago and St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Pontiac will operate this weekend as scheduled.

In the East, the Vermonter was cancelled in both directions between St. Albans, Vermont, and Springfield, Massachusetts, on Dec. 23 but was to resume operating on Dec. 24.

Likewise, the Ethen Allen Express was cancelled between Burlington, Vermont, and Albany-Rensselaer, New York, on Dec. 23 but was to resume on Dec. 24.

As for the long distance network, the Empire Builder continues to be suspended between Chicago and Seattle/Portland. It will resume originating in those cities on Dec. 26.

The Capitol Limited will resume originating from Chicago and Washington on Dec. 24 as will the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago, Boston and New York.

The tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal remains suspended through the weekend. No. 51 will originate as scheduled on Dec. 25 in New York. The next Cardinal to originate in Chicago will do so on Dec. 27.

LSL Returns to Service Following Storm Suspensions

November 21, 2022

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited returned to service on Sunday following its suspension since late last week in advance of a snowstorm in the Buffalo, New York, region that dumped up to six feet of lake effect snow.

Also restored to service were Empire Service trains to Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York.

Nos 48/448 and 49/449 were cancelled between Wednesday and Saturday from Chicago, and Thursday through Saturday from New York City.

The last train to operate west of Albany-Rensselaer, New York, was Empire Service No. 283, which terminated on Thursday in Syracuse.

It turned at Syracuse on Friday to return to New York’s Penn Station. Trains that were scheduled to operate between New York and Niagara Falls instead operated only between New York and Albany-Rensselaer through Saturday.

In an unrelated situation, two westbound Wolverine Service trains were cancelled on Friday due to stranded equipment and lack of operating personnel.

The situation arose from a Thursday incident in Kalamazoo, Michigan, when westbound Train 355 struck a trespasser.

Passengers completed their trip to Chicago by bus but Nos. 350 and 355 from Detroit (Pontiac) to Chicago on Friday were cancelled.

Finding space on Amtrak trains during the Thanksgiving travel period this week may be difficult as the passenger carrier continues to grapple with shortages of serviceable equipment and operating personnel.

Midwest corridor trains on the St. Louis-Kansas City; Chicago-Quincy, Illinois; and Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridors are suspended due to those issues, meaning there is not as much capacity as there has been in previous years.

Amtrak also lacks the ability to do as it did in previous years of adding extra sections of some Midwest Corridor trains during the Thanksgiving travel period by having equipment and personnel make additional trips during hours when the equipment would be having downtime in Chicago before its next assignment.

Even trains that are operating this week will have less capacity because they have been operating for several months with fewer cars than normal.

Amtrak Delays Return of Michigan Trains

September 20, 2022

Amtrak has extended the suspension of two Wolverine Service trains until Oct. 24.

In announcing the suspensions earlier this month, the passenger carrier had said that Nos. 350 and 355 were being suspended due to lack of crews and equipment.

At the time, the trains were to have been reinstated on Sept. 17.

No. 350 is the early morning departure from Chicago while No. 355 departs Pontiac, Michigan, in suburban Detroit in late afternoon.

Two other Wolverine Service roundtrips are unaffected by the service suspensions.

Service suspensions also remain in effect on two other Midwest corridor routes.

Lincoln Service Trains 300 and 305 remain suspended through at least Oct. 23.

No. 300 is scheduled to depart St. Louis at 4:35 a.m. while No. 304 is scheduled to depart Chicago at 5:20 p.m.

The Chicago-St. Louis route continues to field three other Lincoln Service roundtrips plus the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Suspended until at least Dec. 5 is the Saluki from Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, and the Illini from Carbondale to Chicago.

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

The trains were suspended last January due to shortages of operating crews and equipment.

One factor keeping the trains sidelined is the insistence of host railroad Canadian National that all trains on the Chicago-Carbondale route use Superliner equipment.

Until about two years ago, the State of Illinois-sponsored Chicago-Carbondale trains used Horizon and Amfleet equipment.

Other trains in the Chicago-Carbondale corridor include the northbound Saluki, which departs Carbondale in the morning, and the southbound Illini, which departs Chicago in late afternoon.

The City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans also covers the corridor but is operating just five days a week. Nos. 58 and 59 are slated to resume daily operation on Oct. 8.

Amtrak Reinstates Suspended Trains

September 19, 2022

Amtrak had reinstated by Saturday all trains that had been suspended in advance of a potential national railroad stoppage. Some suspended trains resumed running on Friday.

The suspensions primarily affected long-distance trains with some being suspended on the Tuesday before the potential Friday strike and/or lockout.

A work stoppage was averted when a tentative new labor agreement was reached early Thursday morning.

Among the trains affected was the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, which did not depart on Thursday or Friday. The Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited had not yet been suspended at the time the tentative labor contract was reached.

Amtrak to Begin Restoring Service

September 15, 2022

With a national railroad strike and/or lockout now averted, Amtrak said on its website this morning that it is working to restore cancelled trains.

However, no details had yet to be posted by mid-morning. The notice said passengers whose trains had been cancelled would be accommodated on “first available departures.”

The passenger carrier had begun suspending some long distance trains on Tuesday, including the Southwest Chief, Empire Builder, California Zephyr and the Los Angeles-San Antonio segment of the Texas Eagle.

On Wednesday Amtrak said all remaining long-distance trains would be suspended on Thursday as well as late day corridor services.

Some trains still departed their terminals on Wednesday, including the Capitol Limited, but others, including the Lake Shore Limited, were suspended.

The Capitol and Lake Shore use the same Norfolk Southern route between Chicago and Cleveland.

Various commuter railroads around the country also had announced plans to suspend service if a work stoppage occurred as early as Friday morning.

Some commuter railroads own their own tracks and would not have been affected.

Amtrak had indicated that in the event of a work stoppage, it would having continued to operate corridor services on routes where it, a short line carrier not part of the contract talks, or a public agency owns the tracks.

In numerous public statements, Amtrak had said it was not a party to the labor negotiations between the National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents railroad management, and the 12 labor unions representing 125,000 railroad workers.

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.

2 Wolverine Service Trains to be Suspended

August 28, 2022

Amtrak Train 350 swings onto the Michigan Line in Porter, Indiana, on Feb. 27, 2002.

Amtrak is citing equipment and personnel shortages for suspending two Wolverine Service trains until mid-September.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said Nos. 350 and 355 between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) would be suspended starting Aug. 29 and continuing through Sept. 16.

No. 350 is the early morning departure from Chicago while No. 355 is the late afternoon departure from Pontiac.

No alternative service is being provided for the suspended trains. Amtrak said Nos. 350 and 355 will resume operating on Sept. 17.

The suspensions will not affect operations of Wolverine Service Trains 351, 352, 353 and 354.

Amtrak has attributed various Midwest corridor service suspensions this summer to a shortage of equipment and personnel.

Among the trains suspended for a few days to more than a week have been the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois; and two Lincoln Service trains between Chicago and St. Louis.

Since January the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini in the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor have been suspended and no date has been announced as to when those trains will be restored.