Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’

Increased Holiday Capacity Set for Pa. Trains

November 15, 2018

Amtrak will increase capacity of its Keystone Service trains as well as the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian to accommodate an expected increase in Thanksgiving week travel.

The carrier said all passengers traveling on those trains will need to make reservations for travel between Nov. 20-25.

Reservations will not be required for monthly and ten-ride ticket holders.

On Thanksgiving Day, Keystone Service trains will operate on a Saturday schedule.

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Cincinnati Union Terminal Set to Reopen

November 14, 2018

A restoration of Cincinnati Union Terminal will wrap up this week when the 85-year-old art deco station reopens.

The $228 million restoration project took 30 months to complete after getting underway in July 2016.

The project was funded by a sales tax approved by Cincinnati and Hamilton County voters in 2014.

Amtrak’s Cardinal stops at the station and it is home to several museums.

The restoration effort involved rebuilding the structure down to its substructure and restoring the class murals in the rotunda to look the way that they did when the depot opened in 1933.

The neon-lined clock on the front of the building also was rehabilitated.

“This is a monumental achievement for our staff and volunteers and for the entire community” said Cody Hefner, a representative of the Cincinnati Museum Center.

“Everyone who works here, and really everyone in the community, has a story about Union Terminal, either as a train station or as a museum. So to be able to restore a place with such a personal connection, and to do so in such a grand, visible, breathtaking way, is really incredible.”

Amtrak moved its waiting room to an adjacent building during the restoration. It returned to CUT during the first week of November.

During the public reopening on Nov. 17, Hefner said projectors will be used to light the terminal’s exterior with different exhibits each evening.

A large Christmas train display, a tradition at CUT since 1946, will open to the public on Nov. 16.

Winter Arrives Early, LSL Arrives Late

November 13, 2018

Akron Railroad Club member Ed Ribinskas write that he did his first winter photography earlier this week. He landed the new Amtrak Phase II heritage unit at about 10:40 a.m. as a trailing unit in a 4-hour late eastbound Lake Shore Limited.

In the top image, not the Painesville sign on the former New York Central station, which has been undergoing restoration.

Ed also reported that the old Nickel Plate Road trestle over the Grand River is now completely gone.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Toledo Council OK Rail Passenger Study Funds

November 13, 2018

An ordinance approved by the Toledo City Council will contribute $30,000 toward the cost of a study of reinstating rail passenger service between Toledo and Detroit.

The funds would come from the Division of Transportation general-fund budget.

The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments earlier agreed to contribute $20,000 to the $50,000 study.

The Toledo-Detroit route has been without intercity rail passenger service since Amtrak discontinued the Toledo leg of the Chicago-Toledo Lake Cities in April 1995.

Higher Fees Might Endanger New River Train

November 10, 2018

A recently announced tariff increase for private rail cars that was announced by Amtrak may endanger the annual New River train in West Virginia.

Officials said the added expense combined with other rule changes on private car handling  being imposed by Amtrak might be too much.

The New River Train, which typically runs with about 30 cars, had already felt the effect of changes that Amtrak implemented last spring, including the elimination of Huntington, West Virginia, as a switching point.

That forced the Colils P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, which operates the train, to have to pay for an expensive deadhead move of the train to Huntington.

The Huntington group would not share costs or its agreement with Amtrak, but said it still wants to operate the train in 2019.

Amtrak’s new tariffs on hauling private rail cars will effective Jan. 1, 2019, rise to $3.67 per mile per car, with additional cars costing $2.81 per mile.

So far this year, the New River Train has been the only excursion train to operate following an announcement that the national passenger carrier was ending special moves and charter trains.

The New River Train was saved after West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin intervened.

New River Train and other private car operates have expressed alarm that Amtrak has said it will change terms and rates for private rail cars at its discretion with a 60-day notice, thus making it difficult to plan excursions.

In the case of the New River Train, the sponsor will be unable to determine future costs, something it said might put the excursion train out of business.

At a minimum ticket prices will need to increase to cover the added cost resulting from Amtrak tariff increases.

This year’s train charged $179 per person for a coach seat. Premium seats cost $279; and business class was $600 per person.

The New River Train handled about 4,800 passengers during its four excursions in October.

Amtrak OIG Calls for More Hiring Scrutiny

November 10, 2018

The Amtrak Office of Inspector General has concluded that although the carrier has strengthened its process of checking the backgrounds of potential employees there are still “significant management control weaknesses” in the hiring process that result in “waste and operational risk.”

The OIG said that the background check process has improved but “some inefficiencies and gaps persist.”

Amtrak could improve its process by holding the vendor that conducts the background checks accountable for complying with established guidance and clarifying which department is responsible for ensuring that contractors have completed the required background checks on employees they provide to Amtrak.

The OIG review also found:
• Background checks are generally completed before new employees start work.
• Criminal history reviews of potential workers have been strengthened.
• Education and employment history reviews are inefficient.
• Amtrak does not ensure that contractors conduct background checks.

“The company [Amtrak] will continue to be exposed to potential risks from employees that contractors provide to the company until it establishes controls for contractors to self-certify they have completed checks on their employees working for the company, confirms this through random audits of these contractors and clarifies its policy requiring that the company establish an approved vendor list for contractors to use when conducting these checks,” the report concluded.

Toledo-Detroit Passenger Rail Restoration Eyed

November 1, 2018

The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Government is contributing $20,000 toward a feasibility study of reinstating intercity rail passenger service between Toledo and Detroit.

The study is expected to cost $50,000 and the City of Toledo has been asked to provide the remaining funds needed.

The study is expected to examine such questions as which route will work out the best and which railroad is most likely to be cooperative.

Toledo and Detroit are linked by routes of Norfolk Southern, CSX and Canadian National.

It is expected that whichever route is chosen will require capital work to bring it up to passenger standards.

The last intercity service between the cities was discontinued in April 1995 when Amtrak ended the Toledo-Detroit leg of the Chicago-Toledo Lake Cities.

Study Favors Chicago-Ft. Wayne Service

October 28, 2018

A preliminary study has determined that intercity rail passenger service between Fort Wayne and Chicago is possible between 2026 and 2030.

The study estimated the trains on the route could carry between 387,000 and 765,000 passengers a year by 2035.

Ridership will hinge on the average train speed and number of trips offered. The study examined various scenarios ranging from a top speed of 79 mph to 101 mph.

Although the study looked only at the segment between Chicago and Fort Wayne, that corridor is part of a larger route between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, via Valparaiso, Gary, Plymouth, and Warsaw in Indiana, and Lima in Ohio.

The route between Chicago and Lima would follow or run parallel to the former route of Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Broadway Limited, which was rerouted away from those cities in late 1990.

The study, conducted by consulting firm HNTB, determined that the estimated capital costs are about $898 million for 79-mph service and $1.2 billion for 101 mph.

Amtrak Selling Locomotives, Passenger Cars

October 19, 2018

Amtrak has placed for sale 48 pieces of equipment, including locomotives and passenger cars that it has deemed surplus.

The passenger cars for sale include five former Pacific Parlour cars once used on the Coast Starlight, seven Horizon fleet cars, three material handling cars, eight 1700 series baggage cars and two former U.S. Army flat cars.

Locomotives for sale include 12 P40s, eight F40s, and three P42DCs.

Amtrak is soliciting bids for the equipment with the closing date set for Nov. 14.

The equipment is being stored at Amtrak shops in Beech Grove, Indiana; Bear Delaware; and Wilmington, Delaware.

The Horizon fleet cars being sold include one club dinette, one full dinette and five coaches.

New Schenectady Station Opens 2 Weeks Early

October 19, 2018

The new Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York, has opened two weeks ahead of schedule.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Oct. 17 for the $23 million station that is served by Amtrak’s Empire Corridor trains as well as the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf, Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express.

Funding for the station included $19 million from the state of New York, $3.6 million from the Federal Railroad Administration, $220,000 from Amtrak and $48,000 from the Schnectady Metroplex Development Authority.

It is the third new station in the Empire Corridor to open in the past three years following station openings in Niagara Falls (2016) and Rochester (2017).