Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Capitol Limited’

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.

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Mechanical Problems Delay WB Capitol Limited

August 25, 2017

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited arrived nearly five hours late in Cleveland today due to mechanical problems encountered shortly after the train left Washington.

No. 29 departed from Washington and Rockville, Maryland, on time, but got hung up in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, due to an emergency brake application east of the station in the vicinity of Sandy Hook that the crew was unable to release.

An on-line report said that the culprit was a trailing locomotive, P42DC No. 173, which was going the Beech Grove Shops near Indianapolis for repair.

No. 173 was damaged in a collision at Patrick, South Carolina, between the northbound Silver Star and a truck.

Amtrak mechanical department personnel were called to the scene

The train also had a dead-heading heritage dining car (8532) between the locomotives and baggage car. The other locomotives on train were 196 and 169.

No. 29 arrived in Cleveland at 7:38 a.m., which is 4 hours, 45 minutes off schedule.

2 Hours of Nothing, Then 3 Trains Showed Up

August 5, 2017

I got lucky that the CSX train showed up in Harpers Ferry as Amtrak was leaving, not as it was arriving.

As any railfan knows, traffic lulls are a part of the hobby. You set up someplace to wait for a train and minutes and even hours go by with nothing moving.

Such was the case for me during a recent visit to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

I arrived at the former Baltimore & Ohio passenger station, which is now owned by the National Park Service, just before 4 p.m.

I sat down on a bench, got my scanner out and waited. And waited and waited.

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited is scheduled into Harpers Ferry at 5:16 p.m. A MARC commuter train from Washington to Martinsburg, West Virginia, is scheduled to arrive just after 6 p.m.

Presumably, CSX, which owns the tracks here, would put something through before or immediately after those trains. Instead, I heard nothing more than radio silence.

A call to Amtrak Julie confirmed that No. 29 had departed Washington at 4:48 p.m., which was 43 minutes late. Yet she insisted that the Capitol would arrive on time, but depart two minutes late.

Yeah, right. No way that was going to happen. Later, Julie amended her estimate to arriving at 6:01 p.m. which would put No. 29 just ahead of the MARC train.

A sign at the station said the MARC train was on time. Amtrak No. 29 would have to pass the MARC train somewhere or else it would be lagging behind it.

Around 5:30 p.m., the signal for eastbound track No. 2 turned from stop to clear. CSX had an eastbound coming.

The question was whether it would arrive at the wrong time. I wanted to use my telephoto lens to get Amtrak and MARC coming out of the iconic tunnel on the Maryland side of the Potomac River and then crossing the river on a bridge.

That shot would work best when made from the eastbound platform. There is a tunnel beneath the tracks so I could get to the westbound platform if need be.

Just before 6, a headlight appeared in the tunnel. A scratchy radio transmission indicated that the CSX train was in the vicinity.

The MARC train was running a bit early, which is allowed by the timetable. Amtrak was a few minutes behind it.

As it turned out, the CSX eastbound manifest freight didn’t arrive until Amtrak was leaving.

I had waited two hours and then gotten three trains in a 15-minute span. Or, you could say, it was just another day by the tracks.

After two hours of waiting, here comes the MARC train.

Approaching the platform and not getting blocked by a CSX eastbound freight.

The commuters have been dropped off and the MARC train leaves for Martinsburg.

A few minutes behind MARC here comes Amtrak’s Capitol Limited minus a baggage car today.

Approaching the platform.

No Timeline Set for Return to Hyndman

August 4, 2017

CSX officials said Thursday night it was uncertain how long it would be before residents of Hyndman, Pennsylvania, would be able to return to their homes.

Some 1,000 people were evacuated on Wednesday after an eastbound CSX manifest freight derailed and cars carrying propane and molten sulfur caught fire.

The fires were still blazing on Thursday night and railroad officials have said they were letting them burn out.

A CSX spokesman said that the railroad has started to remove some cars from the site, transporting them to rail yards to the north and south of where 32 cars derailed around 5 a.m. on Wednesday.

CSX has established community outreach centers at Tri-State Ministries Center and Bedford United Methodist Church. It has also made motel reservations for those displaced by the derailment.

One private home and a garage were damaged during the derailment and CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle the carrier will pay for the repair of both.

First responders are collecting donations for Hyndman firefighters, who have been on duty since the derailment occurred.

On Thursday evening, railroad officials said that its hazardous materials specialists assessed the damage from a safe distance Wednesday afternoon.

No Hyndman residents or railroad crew members were injured in the derailment.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board have arrived at the scene about 100 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, but have been unable to examine the derailment site because of the fires.

At least one car containing liquefied petroleum gas and one containing molten sulfur were burning.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said that a handful of people have refused to evacuate from near the derailment scene, but emergency responders know where they’re located.

Wolf said Thursday afternoon that the potential for a propane explosion has diminished, but it’s still possible.

Bedford County 911 coordinator Harry Corley said that everyone within a mile radius of the scene was ordered to leave.

Wolf said health officials are conducting air and ground studies to determine possible health effects.

The train, Q388, was traveling from Chicago to Selkirk, New York.

Amtrak has suspended operations of the Capitol Limited between Pittsburgh and Washington. Passengers for points between those two cities are being transported by bus. Nos. 29 and 30 are continuing to operate between Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Hyndman is a town of just over 800 residents near the Maryland border.

Cleanup of CSX Derailment Continues in Pennsylvania

August 3, 2017

The cleanup continued Thursday following a derailment of a CSX freight train in Hyndman, Pennsylvania, that resulted in a fire and evacuation of the community.

Residents within a mile-radius of the derailment were ordered to leave. CSX opened two community outreach centers to help the displaced residents.

About 1,000 residents of Hyndman were put up on motels in nearby Cumberland, Maryland, and safety crews helped residents retrieve pets and prescription medicines.

The derailment of the eastbound 178-car freight train occurred early Wednesday morning and involved hazardous materials.

Railroad officials said 32 cars derailed, including a tank car carrying liquefied petroleum gas and another tanker carrying molten sulphur. Both leaked and caught fire. The train was en route to Selkirk, New York, from Chicago.

On Thursday afternoon, official said the fires will have to burn themselves out, because that was safer than trying to extinguish them. They were unable to say when residents would be able to return to their homes or when the tracks would be reopened.

Amtrak’s Capitol Limited will be limited to operating between Chicago and Pittsburgh for the next four days.

CSX Derailment Forces Evacuation of Hyndman, Pa.

August 2, 2017

A CSX train derailed and caught fire in southern Pennsylvania, blocking traffic on the Keystone Subdivision and forcing the evacuation of the town of Hydnman.

Amtrak canceled the eastbound Capitol Limited at Pittsburgh on Wednesday morning and westbound No. 29 did not operate between Washington and Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon.

The derailment involved eastbound train Q388 in which 32 cars left the tracks just west of Hyndman, Pennsylvania.

News reports said that after the derailment, residents of the Hyndman area were evacuated after fire broke out.

The accident occurred at about 5 a.m. about 18 miles west of Cumberland, Maryland, east of the famed Sandpatch grade.

The CSX manifest freight was carrying flammable liquid asphalt. A CSX spokesman said some of the derailed cars were carrying hazardous materials.

Cars carrying liquified petroleum gas and molten sulphur were reported to have leaked and caught fire. CSX was sending a hazardous materials team to the scene.

The train originated in Chicago and was bound for Selkirk, New York. It was carrying 178 rail cars, including 128 loads and 50 empties. It was pulled by five locomotives.

Other freight in the consist included construction materials, paper and wood pulp.

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.

Amtrak Running Super Late Again

July 15, 2017

The past two Sundays have seen some extraordinary late running for Amtrak trains serving Northeast Ohio.

Now we can add today (Saturday, July 15) to that list. As this is written around 6: 30 a.m., the westbound Capitol Limited is still not in Pittsburgh. Amtrak’s website estimates it will arrive in Cleveland at 9:34 a.m., which is 6 hours and 41 minutes late.

An online report said the train left Washington late due to malfunctioning air conditioning in two cars.

Amtrak also reports that the westbound Cardinal is running 6 hours, 15 minutes late today.

The reasons for the last running the past two weekends have varied.

On July 2, flooding in New York State and Norfolk Southern track work in Ohio combined to force the westbound Lake Shore Limited to run more than five hours late and take a detour via Bellevue that added even more lateness as well as rare mileage for the train’s passengers.

On July 9 the westbound Capitol Limited suffered a locomotive failure in Pennsylvania that forced it to rely on freight units from its host railroads.

No. 29 became an afternoon train in Ohio rather than a middle of the night one.

Will this Sunday bring another catastrophic bout of late running? Probably not, but for those who missed the daylight westbound Capitol Limited, here is a look back at it passing through Elyria.

Looks like the AC might have failed on the NS unit given that it has an open nose door. On the rear was a string of private passenger cars.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Another Sunday Another Very Late Amtrak Train

July 10, 2017

Well another Sunday and another late Amtrak train. This week it was the Capitol Limited’s turn. The lead engine had a traction motor fire while going up Sand Patch grade Saturday evening, disabling the unit and necessitating a freight unit to continue.

This made it about 10 hours late into Pittsburgh where Norfolk Southern 7630, a GE ES40DC,  took over duties. With a freight engine leading, No. 29 could only go about 50 miles per hour and continued to lose more time en route.

I caught it at the sag near Beloit, Ohio, about 11:30 a.m. It cleared Berea about 2 p.m. and as I write this article at about 9:30 p.m. the train has still not arrived in Chicago.

It would later arrive at Chicago Union Station at 9:52 p.m., 13 hours and 7 minutes late.

Besides the late train doing a daylight run across Ohio and Indiana, which is interesting itself, the train had five private cars trailing including a former Union Pacific dome observation car bringing up the rear.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Columbus to Help Fund Passenger Rail Study

June 12, 2017

The city of Columbus has agreed to contribute $250,000 toward the planning efforts to establish intercity rail service between Ohio’s capital city and Chicago.

That amount will be added to the $350,000 already committed by other cities, businesses and others.

All Aboard Ohio, a rail passenger advocacy group, reported in its June newsletter that some central Ohio entities that it didn’t name might contribute another $100,000.

Work on the proposed Chicago-Columbus route is being conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration and the engineering firm HNTB.

Their planning efforts are currently focused on the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline between Lima, Ohio, and Gary, Indiana, that was once used by Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Broadway Limited and Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited.

The preferred route from Columbus is the CSX Toledo Terminal and Scottslawn subdivisions, which cross the ex-PRR mainline at Dunkirk, Ohio.

In a related move, the FRA is reported to be well along in creating a Midwest Regional Rail Planning Study.

That document will create a 40-year vision that builds on the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative that was proposed more than a decade ago but has never been implemented.

The Midwest Midwest rail concept would cost an estimated $2.5 billion for new locomotives, passenger cars, upgraded tracks, modernized stations, increased train frequencies and faster travel times.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission is participating in the plan, which will establish the priorities, and studies and investments needed to implement projects in the coming decades.