Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’

Amtrak to Award Scholarships

January 25, 2023

Amtrak will award 11 scholarships to full-time undergraduate and graduate students who are passionate about a career in the railroad industry.

The application deadline is Jan. 31. Among the scholarships available are:

— High school students who are Hispanic/Latinx, African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander;

— Women in STEM, for students pursuing an undergraduate or master’s degree majoring in science, technology, engineering, or math;

— Engineering, for student with an interest in rail engineering;

— IT, for students in information technology, computer science, or a similar field;

— Non-technical, for students in business, finance, marketing, supply chain, or a similar field;

— A. Philip Randolph, for children, spouses, civil-union partners or domestic partners of Amtrak employees, retirees, or furloughed employees.

Candidates are encouraged to submit more than one application. Scholarships will help with tuition, fees, books, and equipment. More information and an application is available at on the Amtrak website at the careers page.

Amtrak Seeking Info for New Long-Distance Equipment

January 21, 2023

Although Amtrak has set in motion the process to replace aging Superliner, Viewliner and Amfleet equipment used in its long-distance network, many decisions have yet to be made as to the attributes that that equipment will have.

The passenger carrier this week announced it sent a request for information to various rail passenger car builders.

Amtrak said it expects as many as 10 companies to express interest in the project.

A formal request for proposals is expected to be sent to interested builders by the end of this year.

Among the unanswered questions are whether the replacement cars will be single level, such as Amfleet and Viewliners, or bi-level, such as the Superliner fleet.

Likewise the designs of the cars have yet to be determined and it remains uncertain when production of the new equipment will begin.

A report on the website of the Rail Passengers Association said answers to questions such as these are expected to emerge in the answers that Amtrak gets from interested car builders.

Funding for the acquisition of the new cars is expected to come from the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

Amtrak’s 14 long-distance routes are served with a mixture of equipment. Routes operating primarily east of Chicago are assigned Amfleet and Viewliner equipment whereas routes west of Chicago use Superliner cars.

Some of the newest Viewliner dining, sleeping and baggage cars seem likely to be used alongside the new equipment Amtrak wants to develop. Some Viewliner cars have been in service less than a decade.

The request for information Amtrak sent to the car building industry was only a few pages and designed primarily to solicit ideas for what is possible and desirable in a future fleet of passenger equipment.

Amtrak has had mixed experiences acquiring new equipment. The new equipment for Acela service in the Northeast Corridor is two years behind schedule and yet to go into service.

The most recent order of Viewliner equipment built by CAF USA was several years behind schedule.

More recently, the Venture cars built by Siemens Mobility for corridor services, particularly in the Midwest, has entered revenue service in fits and starts as cars have been removed from service to fix various mechanical issues that cropped up in service.

Last month Amtrak provided information about the Airo equipment to be built by Siemens that will replace Amfleet cars in corridor services.

Production of the Airo fleet is just now getting underway.

Amtrak Takes Step to Replace Long-Distance Fleet

January 20, 2023

Amtrak said this week it has taken the first step toward replacing rolling stock now used on its 14 long-distance routes.

The passenger carrier said it has contacted rail car builders to seek expressions of interest on bidding on a contract for replacement equipment for the aging Superliner and Amfleet equipment used on those trains. Some of that equipment dates to the late 1970s.

Some single-level trains have Viewliner sleepers and food service cars that were built within the past decade.

Amtrak described the requests for expressions of interest as a first formal step in a years-long process.

It expects to release a formal request for proposals later this year.

Amtrak Issues 2022 Diversity Report

January 18, 2023

Amtrak reported this week that it has made progress in meeting its long-term diversity, inclusion and belonging goals.

The passenger carrier’s annual diversity report showed slight increases in representation of multiple racial and ethnic groups in its management workforce, including a 0.8 percent increase in Hispanic and Latino employees, a 0.4 percent increase in Asian employees and a 0.3 percent increase in Black employees, according to the report.

Amtrak management by the end of 2022 was 56.5 percent white, 21.9 percent Black, 9.5 percent Asian, 5.9 percent Hispanic/Latino, 0.4 percent American Indian/Alaskan Native and 0.3 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. About 2 percent of management employees were two or more races, while 3.6 percent did not disclose their race or ethnicity, according to the report.

The unionized workforce was reported to have gained a 1.2 percent increase in Black workers, 0.3 percent increase in Hispanic/Latino workers and 0.1 percent increases in the American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander categories.

The report can be found on the Amtrak website at https://media.amtrak.com/2023/01/amtrak-releases-its-third-annual-diversity-report/

Amtrak Cuts Price of USA Rail Pass

January 13, 2023

Amtrak recently slashed the price of its USA Rail Pass from $499 to $299. The discounted pass must be purchased by Jan. 20.

The pass provides a set fare for coach travel on up to 10 route segments within a 30-day period that begins with the date of the traveler’s first trip, which must begin within 120 days of purchase of the pass.

Travel must be made in coach class. Pass holders cannot upgrade to sleeping car or business class accommodations.

The pass also is not valid for travel on Acela, Auto Train, the Canadian portion of the Maple Leaf, or 7000-7999 series Thruway buses.

Another restriction is no more than four one-way trips are allowed over the same route.

Only “saver” and “value” fares can be booked with the pass. Because the number of seats at that fare level is limited, travelers may find that seats are not available on days they wish to travel.

Capitol, Lake Shore Consists Shrink Further

January 11, 2023

Amtrak has further reduced the consists of its Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited trains this month.

Nos. 29 and 30 are operating with four cars, a sleeper, food service car, a coach, and a Viewliner baggage car. The sleeper, coach and food service car are Superliners.

Although the reduced consists have not been announced by the passenger carrier, Amtrak has in past years reduced the number of cars assigned to some trains during the winter due to lower ridership.

The Capitol Limited had been operating with two sleepers, two coaches and a food service car. It has not routinely carried a baggage car in the past year.

The Lake Shore Limited consist has shrunk by two Amfleet II coaches. Nos. 48/448 and 49/449 is assigned three Viewliner sleepers, a Viewliner dining car open only to sleeper class passengers, three Amfleet II coaches, an Amfleet food service car, and a Viewliner baggage car.

Motive power assignments for all trains remain unchanged with the Capitol usually assigned one P42DC and the Lake Shore having two P42 locomotives.

Both trains have in the past year operated with smaller consists than usual due to Amtrak having a shortage of serviceable equipment. The issue has been traced to the passenger carrier sidelining numerous passenger cars during the COVID-19 pandemic when ridership fell dramatically.

Once ridership began to rebound Amtrak lacked enough mechanical personnel to get the sidelined equipment back into service in a rapid manner.

2 Pa. Amtrak Stations Being Renovated

January 11, 2023

Two Amtrak stations in Pennsylvania are being renovated.

The station project in Latrobe includes installation of a new covered ramp from the parking lot level up to the elevated track area.

Other work will include a new elevated platform with rehabilitated canopy, restored passenger shelter building, replacement of existing stairs and pathways, and new pavement and lighting in the parking lot.

The work will begin in September and is expected to take at least 18 months to complete.

The Latrobe station complex was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1903 and last renovated in 1990 when a restaurant began using the depot.

The Greensburg station is slated to receive a new heating and cooling system.

The former PRR station opened in Greensburg in 1910 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was last renovated in the late 1990s.

Greensburg and Latrobe are served by the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Siemens Works to Address Charger Failures

January 11, 2023

Amtrak’s new ALC-42 Charger locomotives have experienced a spate of winter-related operating failures that the passenger carrier is working with builder Siemens Mobility to address.

A report on the website of Trains magazine, said the repair work is focused on software and hardware modifications.

ALC-42 locomotives, which began revenue service last year, have only been regularly assigned to three long-distance routes but are expected to become the primary motive power in the long-distance network as P42DC locomotives are retired.

The weather related issues have been particularly acute on the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder, which was the first train to receive ACL-42 Chargers.

A Siemens spokeswoman told Trains that the problems causing en route failures of the Charger locomotives have been identified and are being addressed.

The spokeswoman said those problems have caused some instances of ALC-42s losing power “under very specific and unusually extreme circumstances prompted by drastic temperature changes.”

Amtrak has ordered 125 ALC-42s, which are similar in design to SC44 Chargers used on corridor trains in the Midwest and California.

In the first months of operation, Amtrak has typically paired an ACL-42 with a P42DC.

The Trains story indicated that the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited will be the next long-distance train to receive ALC-42 units

Nos. 29 and 30 usually operate with one P42DC over the length of their route.

The Trains story can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/siemens-working-with-amtrak-to-resolve-alc42-locomotive-issues/

Work Underway on Construction of New Amtrak, SEPTA Station in Coatesville, Pennsylvania

January 8, 2023

Amtrak, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority have begun work on a new $65 million station in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

The station, located on Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor, is expected to open in fall 2025.

It will be located just east of the existing former Pennsylvania Railroad depot.

In a news release, PennDOT said work to build a foundation for the south platform is underway and will continue through this year.

That work will be followed by construction of platforms and elevators and stair towers on the south side of the station.

The project will create station that complies with all standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Amtrak owns the existing station building and leases it to the City of Coatesville. It has been closed for more than 25 years.

The existing station is located on a curve so some track relocation is being undertaken as part of the project.

Officials said that was necessary because ADA-compliant platforms cannot be built on a curve.

The new station will be located along Fleetwood Street between Third and Fourth avenues, and feature 530-foot-long high-level accessible platforms with canopies and seating; stair/elevator towers; an audio-visual public address system and security cameras; bicycle racks; and expanded surface parking.

SEPTA currently does not serve Coatesville, but has expressed interest in extending Regional Rail commuter service from Thorndale to Coatesville “in the near future.”

Funding for the project is being provided by PennDOT, Chester County, the City of Coatesville, the Coatesville Redevelopment Authority, and Federal Transit Administration.

AEM-7 With a History

January 3, 2023

It’s not often one knows exactly what happened to a specific locomotive off the top of their head, but I do with this one, shown in Perryville, Maryland, on Aug. 4, 1983.

AEM-7 No. 900 (the class AEM-7) was the trailing unit (lead was No. 903) in the Chase, Maryland, wreck of Jan. 4, 1987, when Amtrak’s Newport News to Boston Train No. 94 collided with three light Conrail units at the Gunpowder River bridge interlocking at over 120 mph, killing 17, and blocking the corridor for nearly three days. It was Amtrak’s worst wreck to that point. 

That was the wreck that transformed a lot of railroading, tightening operations, resulting in random drug and alcohol testing for train and engine crews, and restricting who could be on a locomotive legally, among other changes.

 I watched that train leave Washington. I had arrived from Montreal on the same platform it was waiting on (25/26 tracks of Washington Union Station), and it departed about a minute later into infamy.

Three days later I was on one of the first trains to slowly pass the wreck site (northbound Montrealer) after they got one track cleared enough.

I have closely followed this accident for years and to this day know the names of the Conrail crew by heart (Ricky Gates and Ed Cromwell). The National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined their use of cannabis was the “probable cause” of the accident.

AEM-7 No. 900 was also the only AEM-7 I ever had a chance to stand in the cab of, about a year before the wreck.

Article by Paul Woodring, Photo by Robert Farklas