Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Wolverine Service’

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 Service Woes Continued on Monday

December 27, 2022

Amtrak continued to struggle on Monday to return to normal with numerous trains cancelled. In some cases the cancellations were prompted by mechanical issues with the assigned equipment. But an Amtrak service advisory cited weather related issued as prompting other cancellations.

Among the cancellations were Lincoln Service Nos. 300, 301, 305, 306, 318 and 319 between Chicago and St. Louis; the Missouri River Runner between St. Louis and Kansas City, and the Illinois Zephyr between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois.

Although the Chicago to Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water had been scheduled to operate, it was ultimately cancelled due to mechanical issues.

Initially, Amtrak said on Twitter that Train 364 from Chicago to Port Huron would be delayed due to late arriving equipment. No. 364 was then cancelled, reinstated, and then cancelled yet again due to mechanical issues.

Many trains that did get out on the road encountered major delays. Wolverine Service No. 352 from Chicago to Detroit (Pontiac) was running more than four hours late. The Chicago-bound Cardinal was more than four hours late arriving in Chicago.

The Amtrak Twitter feed shows a tale of cascading effects in which a late inbound train created delays for its outbound counterpart due to the need for crew rest.

Thus far Amtrak has announced that today (Dec. 27) Lincoln Service/Missouri River Runner 319, Wolverine Service 353 and Illinois Zephy 382 are cancelled.

Three long-distance trains didn’t get out on the road on Monday as well. That included the Capitol Limited (Chicago-Washington), Lake Shore Limited (Chicago-New York/Boston) and Empire Builder (Chicago-Seattle/Portland).

Amtrak said all of those trains were cancelled due to “on-going weather-related issues.”

Widespread service cancellations also occurred on Monday in the east and will extend into Tuesday.

The Maple Leaf in both directions is cancelled. Train 63 will operate from Rochester, New York, to New York City, and Train 64 will operate from New York to Syracuse, New York.

A spate of cancellations have been posted for several Empire Service trains for Monday and Tuesday.

Train 280 is cancelled in New York State between Niagara Falls and Albany-Renssealer. Trains 281, 283 and 284 are canceled only between Syracuse and Niagara Falls.

Also cancelled on Monday were Amtrak Regional trains 151 and 22 between Washington and Roanoke, Virginia.

Amtrak’s reservation system shows the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited as slated to depart their respective terminals today.

However, the service advisory issued Monday afternoon indicated the westbound Capitol Limited is cancelled on Tuesday. Since last Thursday the Capitol has operated just once when No. 29 departed Washington on Sunday and arrived in Chicago Monday morning more than two hours late. No. 30 last left Chicago on Dec. 21.

The Lake Shore Limited last left its respective terminals on Dec. 21.

The Empire Builder will not depart any of its terminals today which means it has now been a week since Nos. 7/27 and 8/28 departed Chicago or the West Coast.

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.

Amtrak Cancels Midwest Trains During Christmas Travel Period Due to Pending Winter Storm

December 20, 2022

Just in time for Christmas Amtrak is curtailing service in the Midwest in advance of a winter storm that will bring subzero temperatures and heavy snow in some places.

The cancellations affect corridor service from Chicago to Milwaukee, St. Louis and Detroit (Pontiac). Also affected is the route between St. Louis and Kansas City and the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

The cancellations are in effect on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Cancelled are Wolverine Service Trains 352 and 353 between Chicago and Pontiac; Lincoln Service Trains 300, 301, 305 and 306 between Chicago and St. Louis; and Hiawatha Service Trains 329, 332, 333, 336, 337 and 340.

On the Missouri River Runner route trains will not operate on Saturday or Sunday between St. Louis and Kansas City, which means there will be no Amtrak service on those dates.

The Empire Builder will not depart Chicago or from the West Coast on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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 Says Its Changing Adverse Condition Practices

October 29, 2022

In the wake of an incident involving a Wolverine Service train in early October, Amtrak said it is changing its policies for handling situations in which trains suffer severe mechanical issues that adversely affects passenger comfort.

Amtrak said it will seek to get passengers off trains that lack heating, air conditioning, electricity, and working toilets whether that involves moving the train to the nearest station or finding other transportation.

“We need to get people off these trains as soon as possible when the comfort systems aren’t working properly,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told MLive.com. “That’s a strong position that we have.”

MLive, which also publishes newspapers in Michigan and is owned by Advance Publications, the same company that owns The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, reported that Amtrak president Roger Harris sent an email message this week to passengers who were aboard Train 351 on Oct. 7 to apologize for the conditions they experienced.

“The service fell far short of what we hold ourselves accountable for and that we promise to deliver to our customers and our partners at the State of Michigan,” Harris wrote.

On Oct. 7, Train 351 suffered numerous mechanical issues while en route, including a locomotive failure that knocked out head-end power to the passenger cars.

News reports said several passengers fled the train in East Chicago, Indiana, as it waited for a new crew after the original crew exceeded the federal hours of service rule.

Those passengers opened doors, walked across active railroad tracks and waded through tall grass to reach a nearby highway where they summoned ride sharing services to pick them up.

Train 351 eventually reached Chicago Union Station shortly after midnight, just over 13.5 hours late.

By then it had been combined with Wolverine Service Train 353, which was operating three hours behind it.

Harris said in his email the crew made “well-intentioned efforts” to keep the train going but Amtrak should have canceled the service and provided alternative transportation.

Magliari told told MLive that buses were not available “because of insufficient vehicles, drivers or both.”

The MLive story said Amtrak plans to streamline service recovery efforts by setting up an operation center in Delaware.

“Instead of having regional decision making, which could vary depending on which part of the country you’re in, our effort here is to consolidate it and make it consistent and make it accountable,” Magliari said.

Amtrak refunded the fares of about 400 passengers on Trains 351 and 353 that day while Harris offered them a $100 travel credit.

“I hope that you will consider riding on Amtrak again soon, and I would like to repeat my apology for our clear failure to provide the service that we expected, and intended, to deliver,” he wrote.

Passengers who incurred additional expenses in getting to their destination can submit receipts and claims to MichiganServiceDisruption@Amtrak.com.

MLive had earlier reported that some passengers aboard the trains said vouchers or refunds of their fare were not enough to satisfy them.

They said they wanted more information from Amtrak as to what happened and why.

“This is just a really frustrating experience with the lack of communication from Amtrak,” said Sarah Pisarczyk, 21, who was traveling from Ann Arbor to Chicago to attend a Harry Styles concert.

Amtrak reimbursed Mark Hovermale of Novi and his wife $80 — the cost of two one-way tickets — but he wants the passenger carrier to also pay expenses he incurred for hiring an Uber driver, hotel fees and his return trip to Ann Arbor.

I don’t want to get back on it,” he said before boarding the train on the Monday after his initial trip. “Renting a car at this point would be $400 or $500 to come back. A last-minute flight is too expensive. We made these arrangements. Most of us are jokingly but very scared to get back on the train.”

Amtrak did pay for passengers who missed their connections to another train to stay in a hotel in Chicago.

Amtrak Says CP Will Allow Passenger Expansion

October 26, 2022

Amtrak said in a brief filed with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that Canadian Pacific has agreed to back the passenger carrier’s efforts to expand service in several locations, including Michigan.

The brief was the final filing by Amtrak in the proposed merger of CP and Kansas City Southern.

CP has agree to allow Amtrak to institute new service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, that would connect at the latter with trains of VIA Rail Canada. The service would use a tunnel under the Detroit River that is owned by CP.

No details about that proposed service have been released nor is there a timeline for its implementation.

Amtrak’s current Wolverine Service between Chicago and Detroit continues northward to suburban Pontiac. One or more of those trains would have to be diverted to Windsor.

The existing Detroit Amtrak station is not located on the route into Windsor.

Amtrak’ s brief described CP as a “reliable partner in working with Amtrak to provide safe, efficient and effective passenger-rail services.”

The brief said CP also agreed to allow Amtrak to add other additional or new services including:

• Expansion on the CP-owned portion of the Hiawatha Service route between Chicago and Milwaukee;

• Between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, on lines owned by CP; 

• Between New Orleans (IC Junction) and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on a KCS line.

CP also has agreed to participate in a study with Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and various governmental agencies of implementing new service between Dallas and Meridian, Mississippi.

RPA Seeks FRA Review of Amtrak Incident

October 22, 2022

The Federal Railroad Administration has been asked to investigate an incident in which an Amtrak Wolverine Service train was delayed by more than 13 hours by a series of mechanical issues while en route.

The train had departed Pontiac, Michigan, in the Detroit suburbs at 5:43 a.m. on Oct. 7 but didn’t arrive in Chicago until just past midnight. The scheduled arrival time was 10:49 a.m.

The request for a review was made by the Rail Passengers Association, which called for the FRA to conduct a debriefing and critique session as required under federal regulations “after each passenger train emergency situation . . . to determine the effectiveness of its emergency preparedness plan.

RPA is seeking observer status in any such review, which the association noted must under federal law be held within 60 days.

The problems began with a locomotive failure on Train 351 about 20 miles west of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The consist of No. 351 was eventually combined with Wolverine Service train 353, which was following about two hours behind.

However, passengers riding Train 351 had no electricity, working toilets, food service or heat during much of their journey. Passengers told news media reporters that they received little information from Amtrak as to what was happening.

Contributing to those conditions were a series of cascading mechanical failures.

Some passengers decided to disembark near Gary, Indiana, after the original Amtrak crew ran afoul of the federal hours of service law and the train sat on a Norfolk Southern mainline awaiting a replacement crew to take the train into Chicago.

Those passengers opened doors, crossed active railroad tracks and walked through waist-high grass to a nearby highway where they summoned ride sharing services to take them to Chicago.

RPA head Jim Mathews said he has met with Amtrak management about the incident and said they recognize the seriousness of what occurred.

However, he said there remain many open questions about how the incident was handled, how alternate arrangements were considered, and how poorly passengers understood what was happening.

Wolverine Passengers Have ‘Trip From Hell’

October 11, 2022

Passengers aboard an Amtrak Wolverine Service train to Chicago on Friday had a trip from hell experience.

Locomotive failure left the Train 351 from Pontiac to Chicago without power, meaning there was no heat, lighting, food service or operating toilets.

The train finally arrived at Chicago Union Station nearly 14 hours late but not before some passengers had bailed out, including some who opened a door as the train sat near Gray, Indiana, and crossed tracks of Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line to a nearby expressway and called ride share services to pick them up.

A report posted on the website of MLive.com said the failure to the SC-44 locomotive began 19 miles west of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

An Amtrak spokesman told Trains magazine the crew was unable to restart the engine or put it on standby to provide head-end power.

Amtrak officials decided to couple No. 351 to Wolverine Service No. 353, which was following behind by three hours, but the crews encountered difficulty doing that.

The combined train didn’t arrive in Jackson, Michigan, until 3;30 p.m. Crew members were never able to get the SC-44 on No. 353 to operate the equipment on No. 351.

Conductors would not permit passengers on No. 351 to ride in the equipment for No. 353, saying there wasn’t enough space to accommodate them.

The combined train was further delayed by an emergency medical situation involving a passenger, battery issues, and sticking brakes.

The passengers who disembarked near Gary did so as the train awaited a relief crew to arrive to continue the journey to Chicago after the original crew had exceeded its maximum hours of service.

MLive quoted some passengers aboard the train as saying they received little to no information about what was going on.

“We’re feeling like we can’t stay on this train anymore,” passenger Michael Bamberry told MLive. “We’re getting no information from Amtrak. Again, we’re cold, hungry, people need to use the bathroom. It smells awful. And a percentage of people are having acute anxiety symptoms and screaming.”

He said he paid $200 to an Uber driver who took him to his hotel in Chicago.

The MLive report said Amtrak sent emails to passengers booked aboard the train apologizing for the experience and offering travel vouchers.