Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak trains’

Amtrak to Increase Capacity in Pennsylvania

November 2, 2017

Amtrak plans to add capacity to its Pennsylvania routes during the Thanksgiving travel period.

In a news release, the carrier said additional cars will be added to trains operating in the New York-Philadelphia-Harrisburg-Pittsburgh corridor.

This includes Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg, and the Pennsylvanian between New York and Pittsburgh.

Reservations will be required on all trains between Nov. 20 and 26.

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Budget Deal Saves Pennsylvanian Funding

October 31, 2017

A budget plan agreed to by Pennsylvanian lawmakers will keep intact funding for Amtrak’s Pittsburgh-New York Pennsylvanian.

That funding had been in danger after some lawmakers proposed transferring money from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation budget to cover a $2 billion budget deficit.

The budget plan still must be approved by Gov. Tom Wolf. It seeks additional revenue by expanding casinos in the state.

The proposal would allow for $200 million in the current fiscal year and more funding later by allowing for the development of 10 new “mini-casinos” around the state.

The Pennsylvanian is funded through the Multimodal Transportation and Public Transportation Trust Funds. If that funding had been removed, the Pennsylvanian would have been at risk of being discontinued.

Six Minutes Down in Summerhill

October 26, 2017

 

Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvanian is six minutes off the advertised as it rushes down Track No. 2 of the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern through Summerhill, Pennsylvania.

Track work to cut in new signals going on in the area probably accounted for most or all of the delay.

Pulling the train today is P42DC No. 160 with a consist of Amfleet coaches and a cafe car.

That is U.S. 219 crossing over the tracks in the distance in the top photograph.

On the other side of the street bridge on which I’m standing is a signal bridge with Pennsylvania Railroad style position light signal heads that are living on borrowed time.

As for No. 42, it could continue to lose time as it proceeded eastward. It arrived in New York Penn Station a half-hour late.

Hoosier State OT Performance Improving

October 24, 2017

The on-time performance of two Amtrak trains in Indiana has shown some improvement of late.

From a 37.1 percent rating in August the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State improved to 56 percent in September.

The Chicago-New York Cardinal, which uses the same route, had an on-time performance of 58 percent during the month

Brittany White, stakeholder and marketing manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said the on-time performance for the Hoosier State for the month of October thus far has been close to 80 percent.

Amtrak has said most of the delays to the trains have occurred on CSX tracks between Indianapolis and Dyer, Indiana.

These run the gamut between malfunctioning signals to freight train interference.

CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle said the delays have resulted from issues stemming from implementation of a new operating model known as precision scheduled railroading.

He said changes in how freight cars are sorted at the railroad’s Avon Yard west of Indianapolis resulted in unanticipated congestion that contributed to service issues for Amtrak.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the passenger carrier has seen a slow but steady increase in on-time performance.

INDOT has hired a consultant to identify areas for improvement in Amtrak, CSX and INDOT operations. That report is expected to be completed in early 2018.

Changing of the Motive Power Liveries

October 20, 2017

It is August 2001 and Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvanian is rolling through Berea just after 1 p.m.

It is an era when there was a daytime passenger train through Berea that wasn’t running several hours off schedule.

The Pennsylvanian carried a lot of head-end cars, which carried mail and express shipments that were supposed to enable it to pay for itself.

But on this day my attention is on the motive power consist. The Phase V look of power blue and gray with a red stripe was introduced in 1999 on AEM-7 electric motors.

But in time it migrated to the P42DC fleet that began showing up fall 1996.

Powering the Pennsylvanian is P42DC No. 180 wearing the then new to me Phase V look. Trailing it is P42DC No. 54 modeling the modified Phase III appearance.

The P42 fleet featured a deeper shade of red than that applied to previous locomotive wearing the Phase III scheme. It also has a deeper shade of blue with both seeking to more closely mimic the colors of the American flag.

Soon all of the P42 fleet would be wearing Phase V colors. You have to wonder when Amtrak will again gives its motive power fleet a new look.

Amtrak Adding Extra Thanksgiving Trains

October 18, 2017

Amtrak will add eight extra trains in Illinois and 10 in Michigan to handle Thanksgiving travelers.

In a news release, the carrier said it will operate every available passenger car during the holiday period.

On the Wolverine Service route, Extra No. 356 will depart Chicago on Nov. 22, 25 and 26 at 9:30 a.m., stopping in Michigan at New Buffalo, Niles, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Jackson before arriving in Ann Arbor at 3:10 p.m.

Extra No. 359 will depart Ann Arbor on the same dates at 4:05 p.m. and make the same stops, en route to Chicago, arriving at 7:46 p.m.

On the Pere Marquette route, extra No. 372 will leave Chicago at 10 a.m. and make all stops en route to Holland, arriving at 2:11 p.m. It will depart Holland at 3:10 p.m. and make all scheduled stop en route to a 5:27 p.m. arrival in Chicago.

These schedules are in effect on Nov. 22 and 26.

Amtrak said that in 2016 it carried 760,755 passengers throughout its national network during the Thanksgiving travel period and it expects similar patronage this year.

Amtrak’s Broadway Limited in Canton

October 13, 2017

Amtrak’s westbound Broadway Limited is in Canton on the morning of June 12, 1982. I am at the station looking west. I only took night photos there two or three times, but with today’s technology, they look better now than the original projected slide. Paul, if you were there with me that night, leave a comment.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Most Amtrak Trains on CSX Took Timekeeping Hit in July, But Not All of Them

August 29, 2017

Not all Amtrak trains that run on CSX rails were plagued by poor timekeeping in July, but many of them were.

An analysis by Trains magazine found that the Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Palmetto, Cardinal, Hoosier State and Maple Leaf suffered serious deterioration in their on-time performance in July compared with the previous 12 months.

The Silver Service and Palmetto ran late 80 percent of the time compared with 56 percent of the time over the past 12 months.

The Cardinal was late 77 percent of the time compared with 43 percent in the previous 12 months.

The on-time performance of the Hoosier State dipped to 54 percent in July, down from 77 percent over the last 12 months.

The Maple Leaf’s timekeeping declined from 77 percent over the past 12 months to 61 percent in July.

However, issues on Metro-North in the New York City region caused some of the delays.

Emerging relatively unaffected were the Auto TrainCapitol LimitedLake Shore LimitedEmpire Service, and Carolinian/Piedmont. The on-time performance of those trains either improved or held steady.

When the performance of some trains did decline, it had more to do with factors other than CSX dispatching.

For example, the Capitol Limited was late 66 percent of the time in July compared with 58 percent in the previous year.

Much of the delay occurred on Norfolk Southern between Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Likewise, most of the delays to the Lake Shore Limited could be attributed to NS.

The Lake Shore Limited was late 64 percent of the time in July, which was down from 53 percent in the past 12 months.

Half of the delays to Nos. 48 and 49 occurred between Chicago and Cleveland, which is owned and dispatched by NS.

Thirty-percent of the delays to the Boston section of the Lake Shore were due to CSX freight train interference.

On the Empire Corridor, trains posted 78 percent on-time performance in July, down from 84 percent over the past 12 months. However, most of the delays occurred on Metro North tracks.

The Auto Train’s timekeeping improved in July to 66 percent versus 56 percent over the past year.

The Carolinian/Piedmont service posted a 57 percent on-time record in July, which was up from 54 percent over the past year.

Although Amtrak would not say if poor on-time performance has affected ridership, spokesman Marc Magliari said arriving on time is the biggest single factor in customer satisfaction.

“Amtrak performance on a route is often the ‘canary in the coal mine,’ ” Magliari said. “If our trains are not running well, the freight trains are often not running well.

“The numbers speak for themselves every month. Host railroads make operational and dispatching decisions that can result in delays to our trains and cause our trains not to make the times on the schedules the host railroads have agreed to meet.”

For its part, CSX acknowledges Amtrak trains have been delayed, but spokesman Rob Doolittle compared it to the undesired effects that CSX customers have had as the railroad implemented a new operating plan.

“We value all of our customers, including Amtrak, and we have worked diligently to resolve those issues as they have emerged.”

Doolittle insisted that CSX dispatchers continue to provide Amtrak trains with preference in accordance with federal law.

Warwick Moment Not Likely to be Repeated on Sunday

July 29, 2017

Here is a Warwick memory that won’t be repeated for Sunday’s picnic. A late-running eastbound Amtrak train lit by the early morning sun approaches Warwick Tower on July 1, 2004. The train is the Chicago-New York Three Rivers, which was discontinued in March 2005. Under ordinary circumstances, Nos. 40 and 41 were scheduled to pass through Warwick during darkness hours.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

 

Amtrak 29 Make Another Daylight Appearance

July 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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