Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’

Amtrak Workers Collect West Virginia Aid

July 28, 2016

Amtrak employees recently collected donations that were distributed to areas of West Virginia that were hard hit by flooding in late June.

Amtrak logoThe back-to-school supplies and other materials were placed in a baggage car of Amtrak’s New York to Chicago Cardinal and transported to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, for distribution.

The donations were collected at stations and Amtrak facilities in eight cities.

Amtrak worked with the American Red Cross, community organization Neighbors Loving Neighbors, and the West Virginia National Guard to coordinate the donations.

Amtrak Describes Removal of Dining Cars From Lake Shore Limited as Temporary Measure

July 25, 2016

Amtrak has confirmed removing Heritage Fleet dining cars from the Lake Shore Limited and substituting Amfleet II café cars.

Although Amtrak said that table service on linen is being provided, one report from the train posted on a railfan chat list indicated that the silverware was plastic and the meals were pre-pared and merely heated by an attendant.

Amtrak logoAs a safety concern, the Heritage diners, which were built in the streamliner era following World War II, were sidelined due to cracks in their frames. The cars began being removed from service in June.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers reported that the removal of diners from Nos. 48/49 is temporary until new Viewliner diners enter service.

The Amfleet café cars are featuring a menu similar to that of the Cardinal and City of New Orleans, trains that have modified dining service.

NARP said it was told by Amtrak that repairing the cracks would require a major effort to repair. Currently, Amtrak has 12 Heritage diners in service.

The Lake Shore Limited was chosen to lose its Heritage diners because it has the fewest full meal periods of Amtrak’s single-level long- distance trains.

Viewliner dining cars are part of an order of new equipment being built for Amtrak by CAF in Elmira, New York.

Amtrak officials said the Viewliner diners are now in production and CAF is addressing a “punch list” of items that Amtrak has created.

NARP said Amtrak officials expect the new Viewliner diners to enter revenue service as early as late summer, which it defined as August or early September. However, that might be for testing on the Northeast Corridor.

NARP said Amtrak has assured the passenger rail advocacy group that once new diners are available, a more conventional dining service would return to the Lake Shore Limited.

Nonetheless, Trains magazine reported on Monday that the type of dining service will vary by train. Once the order of Viewliner diners is completed, they will be assigned to all single-level long-distance trains.

New Viewliner sleepers are expected to begin leaving the CAF plant during the fall.

A review of Amtrak’s CAF Viewliner order conducted by the Government Accountability Office found that the cars are three years overdue.

Amtrak ordered 130 cars for $300 million in 2010 and thus far the only cars to be placed into service have been baggage cars.

The order included 25 dining cars. The GAO report said the order won’t likely be completed until at least 2017.

Rumors Flying About LSL Reroute via Michigan

July 25, 2016

The National Association of Railroad Passengers is reporting that rumors have been flying that Amtrak is considering re-routing the Lake Shore Limited through Michigan.

Amtrak Lake Shore LimitedNARP said some reports have the train being rerouted via Detroit, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo as early as this October and that the reroute would be experimental.

Amtrak has acknowledged that such a routing is being studied as part of a “very high level analysis of options for the future,” NARP said on its website.

In the NARP hotline feature posted last week, the rail passenger advocacy group said it has heard the Lake Shore rerouting rumors from sources inside and side of Amtrak.

The group noted that the Michigan Department of Transportation has expressed interest in seeing a long distance train between Chicago and the East rerouted through Michigan.

Amtrak for several years ran its Chicago-Toledo Lake Cities via Detroit. Scheduled to connect in Toledo with the Lake Shore Limited, the Lake Cities was discontinued between Toledo and Detroit in April 1995 as part of a route-restructuring.

If the Lake Shore Limited is sent via Michigan, its route would remain unchanged east of Toledo.

Lake Shore Limited Dining Service Modified

July 21, 2016
An expansive view of downtown Cleveland is featured in an Amfleet lounge car that was on display last May at the National Train Day festival in Toledo.

An expansive view of downtown Cleveland is featured in an Amfleet lounge car that was on display last May at the National Train Day festival in Toledo.

Online reports indicate that a shortage of Amtrak Heritage Fleet dining cars has led to the institution of a modified dining service on the Lake Shore Limited.

Food service will be provided in two Amfleet II lounge cars with one having been modified to serve as a diner.

Amtrak Lake Shore LimitedA report on showed photographs of a series of heritage dining cars sitting in the coach yard in Chicago, reportedly bad ordered due to problems with the car frames.

The cars included No. 8502/8053 (ex-Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Silver Cuisine);  No. 8504/8052 (ex-CB&Q Silver Restaurant); No. 8551/8500/8051 (ex-CB&Q Silver Diner); No. 8552/8508/8047 (ex-Northern Pacific); and No. 8558/8381-2 (ex-Southern).

One poster said Amtrak had ceased making major repairs to the cars because they were expected to be retired upon being replaced by new Viewliner diners that were to be built by CAF. But production of the new dining cars has been delayed.

Another poster said that Amtrak has a fleet of 19 Heritage Fleet dining cars of which 11 are used at any given time.

That poster said Amtrak has 12 Heritage diners sitting in Chicago with cracks in their center sills.

Reportedly, of the eight Heritage diners still in service, four have been assigned to the New York-Miami Silver Meteor and four to the New York-New Orleans Crescent.

This is not the first time that the Lake Shore Limited has run with Amfleet lounges as dining cars.

Currently, the Lake Shore is operating between Chicago and New York with three sleepers and five coaches. For the remainder of the summer the Boston section continues to operate only between Boston and Albany-Rensselaer, New York, as a connecting train.

One of the Amfleet lounge cars assigned to Nos. 48 and 49 will be used as a lounge and provide snack service.

NY Makes 2nd Attempt at Schenectady Station

July 21, 2016
An artists rendering of the proposed new Amtrak station to be built in Schenectady, New York.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed new Amtrak station to be built in Schenectady, New York.

The New York State Department of Transportation is making another attempt to build a new Amtrak station in Schenectady, this time breaking the project into two phases.

An earlier effort to build a new depot ended in failure when the low bid received came in $10 million over budget.

The first phase will include demolition of the existing station, which opened in 1979. Bidding for that project will begin on Sept. 22.

The contractor for this phase will also do concrete work for such things as stairway foundations and elevator shafts.

The second phase will be construction of the new station in 2018. Bidding for that contract will begin in autumn 2017 with construction to be done in 2018. The station will open the same year.

“We split it to attract a wider array of bidders. We’re trying to get more bidders who have a good understanding of the project,” said DOT spokeswoman Carol Breen. “We’re having long advertising periods and holding pre-bid meetings to give contractors a chance to ask questions and clarify anything so we’re getting good bids.”

The station will have 10,630 square feet and is expected to have a traditional railroad station appearance.

Amtrak Names 2nd Class of Writers in Residence

July 21, 2016

Amtrak has chosen the second class of writers to participate in the Amtrak Residency program whereby the participants travel by train as part of their work.

Amtrak logoIn a news release, Amtrak said the writers will be offered “a travel experience with amazing scenery, an environment that fosters engaging connections, and the ability to explore and be inspired by the diversity of landscapes America has to offer.”

About two writers per month will travel round trip on selected (based on availability) trains that will include all 15 of Amtrak’s long-distance routes.

The writers were chosen by a panel of published authors and two former Amtrak residents. Amtrak personnel also participated in the selection process.

“We are excited to build on the success of the residency program and offer a second group of writers a creative environment to focus on the work of their choice,” said Julia Quinn, Amtrak’s director of public relations.

CSX Track Work Alters Amtrak Schedules

July 20, 2016

CSX track work has Empire Service trains and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf operating on temporary schedules through Sept. 2.

Amtrak 3In a service advisory, Amtrak said some train will depart earlier than the published schedule.

Passengers are advised to check, use the Amtrak mobile app or call Amtrak personnel at 800-872-7245 for the most up-to-date schedules.

Cleveland Firm Chosen to do Design Work for Chicago Union Station Restoration Project

July 20, 2016

Arup has been named to be the design team for the Chicago Union Station restoration project.

The Cleveland-based engineering consulting firm will work with Amtrak, Metra, the city of Chicago and the Regional Transportation Authority on the project.

Chicago Union StationThe next phase of the project involves planning, historic review and preliminary engineering.

The work will focus on expanded concourses and entrances, widening of platforms, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance work,  and improved pedestrian passageways and ventilation. The design work is expected to be completed in 18 months.

“This project will reflect the station’s status as the major multi-modal transit powerhouse for the city and region,” said John Eddy, principal and project manager at Arup, in a news release.

Increased Security at Cleveland Amtrak Station

July 19, 2016

Heightened security measures are in place this week for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, which will also affect the Amtrak station.

Passengers are urged to allow extra time to reach the station due to street closures for security reasons.

Amtrak 4Amtrak said it will have additional personnel on hand during the convention, which wraps up on Thursday night.

Passengers age 16 and over should be prepared to present a valid photo ID to Amtrak personnel or police upon request.

There will be parcel restrictions in downtown Cleveland during this  period and passengers should be ready to provide documentation about their reasons for being in the secured area, such as an eTicket or hotel reservation confirmation, if they are carrying items larger than 18 inches by 13 inches by 7 inches.

Amtrak Police will have an increased presence in Cleveland during the convention.

Private Car Tour to Benefit Reading 2100

July 8, 2016

In an effort to raise money to restore Reading Company 4-8-4 No. 2100, the American Steam Railroad Preservation Association will sponsor a private car trip aboard Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian.

Amtrak logoThe Alexander Hamilton will make an autumn trip from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and return the next day after an overnight stay in a hotel.

The trip is slated for Oct. 29 and 30. Passengers will receive a buffet lunch, full service dinner and beverages. Tickets range from $749 for one person to $1,399 for two people.

No. 2100 is currently at the roundhouse of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society undergoing restoration work.


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