Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak service suspensions’

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.

LSL Disrupted Due to Hazard in Albany

July 30, 2022

Amtrak is operating a bus over a portion of the route of the Lake Shore Limited due to a hazard near the train’s route in Albany, New York.

In a Tweet sent Friday night, the passenger carrier said passengers would ride a bus between Albany and Schenectady, New York.

The Boston section will originate and terminate in Schenectady with passengers riding a bus between there and Boston. The bus arrangement involving the New York and Boston sections is in effect through Aug. 5.

Amtrak No. 48 was cancelled on Thursday night and the train scheduled to depart on Friday night was shown as having a service disruption. No. 49 was cancelled Thursday and Friday.

The developments followed an earlier announcement by Amtrak that the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf and other Empire Service trains were being suspended west of Albany, New York, because officials fear a building next to the tracks could collapse.

The structure is the Central Warehouse, a 12-story building built in 1927 and nearly vacant since 1990.

City officials cited a structural engineering report in declaring a state of emergency regarding the building because its southerly wall is in imminent danger of collapsing. That wall is the closest to the tracks.

“We are working closely with local, state, and federal partners and engineering experts to determine the extend to the structural failure and develop a plan to insure the safety of our residents and businesses, and get the trains running on time and interstate commerce back on track,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan in a statement.

The cost of razing the warehouse, which has thick concrete walls, was put at more than $10 million. That figure also includes the cost of asbestos abatement would exceed $10 million.

On Friday night Amtrak issued a service advisory saying it would provide alternative bus service for the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf and Ethan Allen Express.

The advisory said full service will continue between Albany and New York City.

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.

Amtrak Extends Some Service Suspensions

March 4, 2022

Amtrak indicated on Thursday that some trains will not resume daily operation on March 28 as the passenger carrier had earlier indicated they would.

Trains that will continue to operate five days a week include the Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Lake Shore Limited, City of New Orleans, and Crescent.

The Capitol Limited, Texas Eagle, and Coast Starlight will resume daily operation on March 28.

On that date, all seven Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha weekday round trips and full weekend service will be restored, as will nine weekday trips each way between New York City and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Other state-supported and Northeast Corridor cuts announced in January are to continue indefinitely.
Most notable among those in Midwest corridors is the southbound Saluki from Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, and northbound Illini from Carbondale to Chicago.

The suspension of the Silver Meteor, which had been suspended in its entirety, will continue.

Amtrak has not said when suspended trains will be reinstated. “We continue to work on further frequency additions for the coming months as staffing and other resources allow,” Amtrak said in a statement.

In the meantime, the passenger carrier has been notifying passengers booked to travel in April and May on dates of which there will be no service that they need to reschedule their trips.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the affected long-distance trains are shown in the Amtrak reservation system as being reinstated to full daily service between May 23-28.

However, an Amtrak spokesman told Trains that that is its spring schedule and the company will announce its summer schedules at a later date.

In a statement to Trains, Amtrak said the continued service suspensions are due to “staffing and hiring shortages for skilled technical employees caused by the pandemic.”

The statement said Amtrak is working toward restoring train frequ3nces “in the coming months as our hiring, training and staffing levels advance.”

Railfan & Railroad magazine reported on its website that Amtrak officials cited hiring challenges for the service suspensions continuation.

Amtrak Suspending Some Washington Service

January 18, 2021

In advance of the inauguration of president-elect Joseph Biden, Amtrak is suspending some services to Washington.

In a service advisory, the passenger carrier said it will not operate Northeast Regional service south of Washington on Jan 19 and 20.

The New York-Charlotte Carolinian will only operate in North Carolina between Raleigh and Charlotte on those dates.

Long distance trains operating to or through Washington will be unaffected, including the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited.

Amtrak said passengers whose trips begin or end in Washington should be aware that there will be pedestrian and vehicle restrictions at and around Washington Union Station.

This includes the closure of DC Metro’s Union Station stop. Passengers are being directed to use Metro’s NOMA/Gallaudet station, which Amtrak described as being a short walk from Union Station. Metro will operate on a modified schedule.

MARC commuter trains to Maryland and West Virginia have been suspended and Virginia Railway Express said its trains will not run Monday through Wednesday.

The service advisory said there will be no access to taxi or ride share services at WUS.

Amtrak Service Reinstatements Remain in Flux

May 16, 2020

Restoration of suspended Amtrak services remains in flux despite what has been reported in recent days based on company planning documents.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari cautioned that some trains shown on Amtrak’s website as operating in June might be canceled and that many service decisions shown in the planning document are still pending.

One example of that is the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette, which has been suspended since late March and was shown in the Amtrak reservation system as resuming operation on June 1.

Amtrak has removed the Pere Marquette from its reservation system for June in recent days.

It’s possible some passenger have made reservations for trains that will not be operating on the day of the reservation.

Magliari said in those cases Amtrak will notify the passenger of the cancellation.

Amtrak has announced that some services in the Northeast Corridor will return on June 1.