Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Capitol Limited’

Amtrak Eyes New Entrance to Chicago

June 13, 2022

Amtrak is seeking funding to develop a new entrance to Chicago for its trains from the East Coast and Michigan.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the proposal is multiple pronged and involves using tracks of the South Shore Line in Northwest Indiana, acquiring Canadian National’s lightly used Lakefront Line and constructing a direct connection from the St. Charles Air Line to Amtrak-owned tracks leading into Chicago Union Station.

The project, if funded, would cost an estimated $418.5 million.

The Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited and Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited would leave their current route on Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line at a connection from NS to the South Shore near the current Amtrak station in South Bend, Indiana.

Amtrak trains from Michigan would get onto the South Shore in Michigan City, Indiana. From there Amtrak would take the South Shore to Kensington in Chicago before switching to the CN Lakefront Line, which was formerly the mainline of the Illinois Central.

Amtrak trains using the former IC between Chicago and New Orleans currently use the St. Charles Air Line over its entire length.

But this requires a backup move on BNSF’s busy Chicago-Aurora line to reach Union Station.

Building a direct connection from the Air Line to Union Station would cost an estimated $146.5 million.

The proposed project also would route the Chicago-New York Cardinal over the under construction West Lake Corridor line of the South Shore between Dyer and Hammond, Indiana.

At Hammond, Nos. 50 and 51 would then continue in or out of Chicago via the South Shore mainline.

The advantages of the project would be to get passenger trains off the busy NS Chicago Line, where Amtrak operations have been frequently subject to delay.

The Trains report indicated Amtrak is eyeing grants from the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program.

Also known as the Mega Program, Amtrak would seek $251.1 million in federal grants that it would match with $83.7 million from its own budget.

The passenger carrier would also seek equal amounts from a combination of state and local agencies, including transportation departments of Illinois, Michigan, and the City of Chicago; commuter rail agency Metra; and Cook County, Illinois.

Amtrak also has proposed double-tracking its Michigan Line for 16 miles between Niles and Glenwood, Michigan.

This would eliminate delays that occur when scheduled trains run late and miss their planned meets at the existing sidings.

No timeline has been given for these projects and it is unclear if CN would be willing to sell to Amtrak its Lake Front Line in Chicago. Nor has Amtrak yet held discussions about using the South Shore with that rail operator’s parent, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

The new Chicago entrance proposal is similar to one studied several years ago involving creating a dedicated passenger route in Chicago and Northwest Indiana on no-longer used right of way that once belonged to the New York Central that runs parallel to the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline that Amtrak and NS use today. That proposal died due to lack of funding.

The Trains report can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/amtrak-unveils-infrastructure-plan-to-transform-chicago-operations/

Amtrak Allowing Checked Bikes on Capitol Ltd.

June 7, 2022

Amtrak has resumed accepting bicycles for transport aboard the Capitol Limited between Chicago and Washington.

In a news release, Amtrak cited high demand for accepting reservations of up to 12 full-six bikes aboard Nos. 29 and 30.

The fee to take a bike aboard the train is $20 per bike. The bikes cannot exceed 50 pounds and be no greater than 70 inches in length, 41 inches in height and 8.5 inches in width.

The train’s route runs along some popular trails in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, including the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage.

One popular point for bicyclists is Cumberland, Maryland, which is 146 rail miles from Washington and 153 miles from Pittsburgh.

Capitol Limited Capacity Expanded This Week

May 26, 2022

Amtrak has increased the capacity of its Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited. Nos. 29 and 30 are now operating with two sleeping cars, three coaches and a food service car, all of it Superliner equipment.

Also added to the consist was a Viewliner baggage car. The trains continue to be pulled by a single P42DC locomotive.

The train’s consist earlier this year shrunk to four cars, a sleeper, food service car and two coaches. In recent weeks the consist has been five cars with the extra car being a coach.

The Capitol Limited still is without a Sightseer lounge. Earlier reports blamed the lack of a lounge car on a car shortage prompted by a shortage of mechanics who can get cars that were stored during the pandemic back into operating condition.

As the pandemic sent Amtrak ridership plummeting, the passenger carrier reduced the consists of trains, sidelined dozens of cars, and reduced the frequency of operation of most long-distance trains to less than daily.

In late 2020 and early 2021, most long-distance trains fell to tri-weekly operation. Although daily operation was restored to those trains last summer, most trains began operating five days a week in late January.

At the time, Amtrak cited crew shortages for the service reductions. The Capitol Limited was restored to daily operation in late March.

In a related development, the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited resumed daily operation this week.

Nos. 48/49 and 448/449 had been operating five days a week, not departing its endpoint cities on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

The makeup of the Lake Shore is two P42DC locomotives, three Viewliner sleepers, a Viewliner dining car for sleeping car passengers, an Amfleet food service car, four to five Amfleet coaches and a Viewliner baggage car.

Amtrak to Restore LSL to Daily Operation in May

April 19, 2022

Amtrak will restore daily operation to four long-distance trains the week of May 23, Trains magazine reported Tuesday.

Resuming daily operation will be the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief, the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder, and the Chicago-San Francisco Bay California Zephyr.

Starting May 2 Amtrak will end a joint equipment sharing plan involving the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Chief.

Consequently, the Texas Chief will resort to its previous schedule because there will no longer be a need for a long layover in St. Louis to inspect the equipment.

However, Trains reported, the New York-Miami Silver Meteor will remain suspended through Sept. 11. The Chicago-New Orleans City of New Orleans and the New York-New Orleans Crescent also will remain five-day-a-week trains for now.

The Chicago-New York Cardinal will get a marginal boost in capacity when unused sleeping car accommodations in a crew car will begin being sold to the public.

Those accommodations are in a dorm-baggage car that runs on the rear of the train.

The southbound Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, Saluki, and northbound Carbondale to Chicago Illini will remain suspended through Sept. 11. Both trains were suspended in late January.

The Trains report cited a planning document that it obtained.

That document also indicated there will be additional trains added in the Northeast Corridor.

The document said some train consists are being adjusted to account for lower than expected passenger car availability and continued onboard service worker shortages.

In a statement provided to the magazine, Amtrak acknowledged the additional services and cited increased demand for business and leisure travel.

To read the article visit https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/amtrak-to-restore-four-long-distance-trains-to-daily-service-in-late-may/

RPA Says Amtrak Service is Deteriorating

April 19, 2022

Amtrak service in recent weeks has shown marked deterioration, the Rail Passengers Association said on its website last week.

RPA said on-time performance system-wide has declined due to freight train interference and slow orders.

Another factor has been mechanical breakdowns of Amtrak equipment that has delayed trains at their originating terminals and while en route.

The RPA post said that during March on-time performance fell to 21 percent. The Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited slipped to 19.9 percent while the New York-Miami Silver Star was at 16.9 percent and the New Orleans Sunset Limited at 17.8 percent.

RPA said its members have also complained about problems with the reservations system, particularly reaching Amtrak call centers.

Amtrak Unveils Phase VII Livery

April 18, 2022

Amtrak SC-42 No. 309 is the first Charger to wear the new Phase VII livery (Amtrak photo)

The long awaited Amtrak Phase VII livery has been released. It is a two-tone blue scheme with white trim and a splash of red paint along the side contours of the nose and roof. There is a red stripe along the bottom of the car body.

Amtrak released a photograph of Charger ALC-42 No. 309 wearing the livery at the Siemens Mobility assembly plant.

The 309 left Sacramento, California, on Thursday on the California Zephyr and passed through Northeast Ohio Monday morning on the Capitol Limited.

No. 30 arrived in Cleveland at 4:37 a.m., nearly three hours late. The motive power consist included P42DC No. 25 on the point along with the 309 and SC-42 No. 308.

The latter is the last Charger to be released in the Phase VI livery. No. 30 also had a six-car consist. Earlier in the year it ran with four cars and of late has had five cars.

The Chargers are to undergo Amtrak’s acceptance process at the carrier’s shops in Wilmington, Delaware.

In a news release, Amtrak said the Phase VII livery will be applied to the remaining Charger locomotives it has on order with Siemens.

The first nine chargers received a Phase VI livery that was somewhat similar in appearance to Phase VII.

The Amtrak news release said the white arcs that separate the red and blue areas of the locomotive are meant to echo the Amtrak herald.

The news release quoted Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner as saying the new livery “reflects the transformation underway at Amtrak as we welcome back our loyal customers while introducing new generations to rail travel.”

The white also was designed to add additional visibility and safety, Amtrak officials said.

Capitol Limited to Resume Daily Operation

March 26, 2022

Starting Monday, Amtrak’s Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited will begin sharing train sets with the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

The move coincides with both trains resuming daily operation rather than the five-day-week operation they have been following since late January.

At that time the Capitol Limited began departing Chicago and Washington on Sunday through Thursday with no departures on Friday and Saturday.

At the time of the service reduction, Amtrak cited staffing shortages in reducing the operation of most long-distance trains from daily to five-days-a-week.

A report on the website of Trains magazine said the equipment from inbound No. 29 will make a same-day turn with minimal maintenance to become No. 21 for Texas.

Three days a week the Texas Eagle interchanges in San Antonio through cars to and from Los Angeles with the Sunset Limited.

Trains said the equipment sharing between the Eagle and Capitol will reduce the number of equipment sets needed to cover both trains from seven to six.

Currently, Amtrak assigns three equipment sets to Nos. 29 and 30 and four equipment sets to Nos. 21 and 22.

The trains will continue to be treated as separate for purposes of ticketing and those who are connecting from the Capitol to the Eagle or vice versa must disembark in Chicago rather than remain onboard.

The Eagle and Capitol have similar equipment sets of two coaches, a sleeping car and a Cross Country Café that serves as a dining car for sleeping car passengers and a café car for coach passengers.

The Eagle operates with a third coach between Chicago and St. Louis.

As part of the change, Amtrak plans to shift the federally-mandated 1,500 mile equipment inspection to St. Louis rather than Chicago.

To accommodate that, Amtrak is adding additional dwell time in St. Louis so that the Eagle will sit there for two hours in each direction.

During the St. Louis dwell time passengers will either have to disembark for the entire dwell time or remain in their coach seat or sleeping car room.

Amtrak wanted to retain the same schedule between St. Louis and San Antonio in both directions so it modified the schedule between Chicago and St. Louis.

No. 21 will now depart Chicago at 11:55 a.m. rather than the current 1:45 p.m. It will depart St. Louis at 9:22 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 3:21 p.m. Currently, No. 22 departs St. Louis at 7:55 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 1:22 p.m.

Currently, the St. Louis dwell time for the Texas Eagle in both directions is 30 minutes.

A potential challenge for the new schedule can occur if the inbound Capitol Limited is excessively late arriving in Chicago.

It is common for No. 29 to lose time while operating over host railroad Norfolk Southern west of Toledo.

In addition to the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle resuming daily operation, the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight will also begin operating daily next week.

Although Amtrak’s website shows all other long-distance trains now operating five days a week resuming daily operation on May 23, that is not guaranteed even though passengers are being allowed to book travel on days those trains currently do not operate.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Railway Age that the daily operation shown on the website for all long distance trains effective March 23 is the carrier’s spring schedule and the summer schedule has yet to be posted.

Amtrak has thus far declined to say how long the less-than-daily operation will continue.

That means the Lake Shore Limited, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Southwest Chief, California Zephyr and Empire Builder will continue to operate on their present five-days-a-week schedules.

Also uncertain is when the New York-Miami Silver Meteor will resume operation.

Some corridor services will resume operating on March 28, including all trains in the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor and some Empire Service trains that had been suspended between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

However, in the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini remain suspended.

The former departed Chicago in the morning while the latter departed Carbondale in late afternoon.

Some shuttle trains between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts, also remain suspended.

A few Northeast Corridor trains also have yet to return, including overnight Nos. 66 and 67 between Boston and Washington.

This is not the first time Amtrak has operated equipment sharing for long-distance trains in Chicago.

In past years the Capitol Limited has shared equipment with the Southwest Chief, the Texas Chief has shared equipment with the City of New Orleans, and the Empire Builder has shared equipment with the City of New Orleans.

Magliari told Railway Age that combining the equipment sets for the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle was done due to shortages of operating and maintenance employees.

Another factor, he said, is that both are one-night trains, rather than taking two nights.

Capitol Limited Detours via Bayard

February 24, 2022

A Norfolk Southern freight derailment early today sent Amtrak’s Capitol Limited detouring in both directions via Bayard between Alliance and Pittsburgh.

The derailment of Train 170 occurred in the Summit Cut, also know as Highland Cut, in Big Beaver, Pennsylvania, northwest of Pittsburgh on the Fort Wayne Line.

Online reports indicated No. 30 picked up a pilot crew off of NS Train 54K but No. 29 had to wait for pilots to arrive. No. 30 reportedly picked up pilots at Elyria where the 54K tied its train down in a siding.

Amtrak’s website reported No. 30 left Cleveland 40 minutes late but was nearly three hour late into Pittsburgh.

No. 29 departed Pittsburgh 37 minutes late but arrived in Cleveland just over five hours behind scheduled. It was 5 hours, 18 minutes late at Alliance.

Some NS trains were reported to be detouring via the Youngstown Line because of the derailment.

Amtrak Cancels Trains Due to Snowstorm

January 29, 2022

Amtrak announced Friday afternoon widespread service cancellations ahead of a winter storm expected to hit the Northeast today and dump up to two feet of snow in some areas.

Although most of the cancellations involve Eastern corridor services, some long-distance trains are affected, including the Lake Shore Limited.

Nos. 48 and 448 did not depart Chicago on Friday night. Combined with a scheduled cancellation of the Capitol Limited, this meant that no Amtrak trains for the East Coast departed Chicago on Friday.

Through late March, the Capitol is scheduled to skip departing Chicago and Washington on Fridays and Saturdays.

Amtrak’s website shows the Lake Shore still scheduled to leave Chicago Saturday night.

However, the westbound Lake Shore Limited from New York and Boston on Saturday has been cancelled, meaning there will be no Amtrak service from the East Coast to Chicago leaving today.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the northbound New York-Charlotte Carolinian will terminate in Washington on Saturday. The southbound Carolinian will originate in Washington on Sunday.

The same plan is in effect for the New York-Savannah, Georgia Palmetto.

The New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvania is thus far unaffected by the service cuts, but Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, via Philadelphia, will be limited. No Keystone trains will operate between Philadelphia and New York.

The Vermonter will be canceled Saturday the length of its route.

Empire Corridor service will be limited between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York, but the Maple Leaf and other trains to Niagara Falls, New York, are still scheduled to operate.

All service between New York and Boston, as well as the shuttle trains between Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut, are canceled on Saturday.

Also canceled are all Acela trains between Washington and New York. Four Northeast Regional trains, including two that operate into Virginia, have been scrubbed. Downeaster service between Boston and Maine will be limited.

On Sunday Northeast Regional Nos. 150 and 160 (Boston-New York) are cancelled as is Downeaster No. 690.

Northeast Regional No. 195 (Boston-Richmond, Virginia) will originate in New York as will No. 195 (Boston-Newport News, Virginia).

Amtrak Service Returning to Normal

January 18, 2022

Amtrak service to Ohio was expected to return to normal today following several cancellations due to a winter storm that dumped heavy snow in some parts of the nation, including Northeast Ohio.

The Capitol Limited (Chicago-Washington) was expected to depart both endpoints for the first time since last Friday.

No. 29 did not depart Washington on Sunday and Monday, and No. 30 did not depart Chicago on Saturday and Sunday.

The tri-weekly Cardinal is also expected to resume normal operations with its late Tuesday afternoon departure from Chicago and early Wednesday morning departure from New York.

Also returning to normal will be the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian. The Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited was not affected by the storm and continuing operating throughout the weekend.

Next week, though, service cancellations lasting through late March will be implemented.

The Capitol Limited will not operate through Northeast Ohio on Saturday or Sunday while the Lake Shore Limited will not operate to Cleveland on Wednesday and Thursday.

The service cancellations will begin on Jan. 25 for Nos. 48/49 and on Jan. 28 for Nos. 29 and 30.