Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Capitol Limited’

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.

In the May ARRC eBulletin

May 23, 2017

In November 1990 Akron Railroad Club member Paul Woodring was working for Amtrak and managed to wrangle an assignment covering the carrier’s publicity special that operated from Chicago to Pittsburgh and back to promote a pending reroute of the Capitol Limited and Broadway Limited.

At the time, both trains operated via the Fort Wayne Line between Chicago and Pittsburgh but had to find other routes due to Conrail downgrading the line.

The Broadway Limited began serving Akron while the Capitol Limited was routed via Cleveland.

In the cover story of the May 2017 ARRC eBulletin, Paul tells the story of how he got the assignment and what it was like to be on board the publicity special.

Paul took numerous photographs on and off the train, which are used to illustrate the feature.

Also in the May eBulletin is a preview of the program at the May 26 ARRC meeting and the latest railroad news.

To subscribe to the eBulletin or to receive a copy, send an email to csanders429@aol

A subscription or a single copy is free.

Budget Proposal Just a Starting Point

March 21, 2017

More than likely it is a waste of time to discuss the Trump administration proposal to eliminate funding for Amtrak’s long-distance trains.

A president’s budget proposal is just that, a proposal, and no president of either party sees the budget he sent to Congress come out without any substantive changes.

For that matter the House and Senate will have their own ideas about how to spend public money, including how much to allot to the national rail passenger carrier.

Amtrak has been down this road before, many times in fact. Past administrations have proposed zeroing out Amtrak funding only to see Congress time and again appropriate just enough to keep Amtrak’s skeletal national network operating.

If anything is a surprise that the Trump budget would seek to keep any funding for Amtrak.

Amtrak may have survived past budget fights but there have been route casualties along the way. A major restructuring in 1979 killed the only Amtrak service in Columbus and Dayton with the discontinuance of the New York-Kansas City National Limited.

A 1995 restructuring killed the Broadway Limited, which wiped Akron, Youngstown and Fostoria off the Amtrak map.

They later regained service for a short time when a revived Broadway operating as the Three Rivers ran between Chicago and New York.

Another budget fight took Athens and Chillicothe out of the Amtrak network when the Cincinnati-Washington Shenandoah was discontinued in 1981.

For a short time, that 1981 budget fight kicked Cincinnati out of Amtrak, but thanks to the political clout of the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the Cardinal returned to its Chicago-New York flight path in early 1982, albeit as a tri-weekly rather than a daily train.

Given the history of Amtrak funding, it would seem likely that some, if not all, of Amtrak’s long-distance trains will survive due to political wrangling.

What could happen is that the fight becomes one of percentages as in what percentage of the Amtrak long-distance network will survive.

If that is the case, Ohio could be in the middle of the fight when some modifications of the long-distance route network are proposed to consolidate “duplicate” service, e.g., the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited between Chicago and Cleveland.

I could see someone proposing reducing the Capitol Limited to a Pittsburgh-Washington service that connects with a combined Lake Shore Limited and Pennsylvanian between Chicago and New York. That would leave Erie, Pennsylvania, off the Amtrak map.

Already, Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation have proposed rerouting the Lake Shore Limited through Michigan, presumably in lieu of an existing Wolverine Service train.

Someone in Washington in an Amtrak office, a Department of Transportation office and/or a congressional office has probably been studying the Amtrak map with an eye toward finding a way to end federal funding of the Lake Shore Limited by making it into a state train.

Michigan and Pennsylvania already fund the legs into Chicago and New York City respectively. Why not tell Ohio that if it wants service it needs to fund the leg between Detroit and Pittsburgh?

And if Pittsburgh-Washington service is to survive then Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia or a combination of those three states will have to fund what would be left of the Capitol Limited.

Some lawmakers like to talk about offering “options.”  They may or may not know or may or may not care that Ohio is unlikely to agree to fund the middle section of the Lake Shore Limited route.

But if Ohio says “no,” well it was given an option and it voted with its wallet.

Buried in the Trump budget proposal is the rational for sharply reducing funding for programs that benefit public transportation: “Future investments in new transit projects would be funded by the localities that use and benefit from these localized projects.”

Look for some in the coming months or years to begin seeking to apply this philosophy to funding for Amtrak long-distance trains.

It would be part of a larger effort to frame the narrative over passenger train funding as a local issue, not a national one even if the trains in question work to form a national transportation network.

AAO Still Trying to Move the Passenger Needle

February 22, 2017

A message showed up in my email inbox the other day from All Aboard Ohio, a passenger advocacy group, that has released a report titled, “Ohio Passenger Rail Assessment of Needs.”

The report was timed to coincide with the Ohio legislature getting to work in hammering out the state’s budget for the next two years.

ohioAAO is trying to push legislators to “begin planning, constructing or completing $23.6 million worth of passenger rail improvements” over the next two years.

Much of that work involves upgrading stations served by the state’s three Amtrak trains, the Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited and Cardinal.

Some of the funding would also be used to plan potential future intercity rail routes, including a proposed Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus route that has never seen Amtrak service.

As AAO sees it, more than $80 million in state funding could be available under state law to be used for passenger rail development without paying for the operating costs of any actual trains.

An AAO news release about the report was written in the typical optimistic tone of rail passenger advocates and sought to put the best possible face on intercity rail.

It focused on such facts as how Amtrak covers 94 percent of its costs through revenues and set a ridership record in fiscal year 2016.

It also reiterated a tactic that AAO has used in the past of trying to shame Ohio policy makers into taking action by noting how neighboring states and the Canadian province of Ontario are investing millions in the development of intercity routes and services while Ohio spends zilch.

The state capital of Columbus is the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere without passenger rail service.

Some folks in Phoenix might quibble with that although the Valley of the Sun does have a light rail system that is seeking to expand.

Rail passenger advocates tend to be an optimistic lot. They have to be. If they acknowledged the long and difficult road ahead they might throw up their hands in frustration. AAO is no exception.

“We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Ohio’s policymakers in achieving realistic, near-term improvements to our state’s transportation system,” said AAO Executive Director Ken Prendergast. “We urge Ohioans to contact their state lawmakers in Columbus today and inform them with a short, polite message that they want better passenger rail service in Ohio.”

AAO has around 500 members and even if all of them contacted their legislators it is doubtful that it would have much effect on what the legislature is likely to do in terms of supporting intercity passenger rail.

Ohio has never spent a dime on funding intercity rail service, unlike neighboring Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

It received a federal grant to help develop the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati corridor, but Gov. John Kasich killed the project shortly after winning election in 2010 and the federal government took back the grant and reallocated it elsewhere.

Ohio’s apathy, indifference or hostility – choose which word you think fits best – toward intercity rail development is not likely to change this year.

Kasich is still governor and is unlikely to change his views toward intercity rail service. Nor is the current legislature likely to be any more open to rail than is the governor. They are not going to be shamed or moved to action.

There may be some small victories, such as state funding of existing station improvements, but little to nothing else.

So AAO works to develop support for a rail a little at a time. Like I said, it’s going to be a long struggle.

Remembering Broadway Limited, X2000

December 17, 2016

ARRC blog contributor Jack Norris wrote the following after reading in the November 2016 eBulletin the feature about the day that Amtrak came to Akron in 1990.

I liked the latest newsletter that I received today. My favorite Amtrak ride to Chicago was the Broadway Limited. I was heartbroken when it ended Sept. 9-10, 1995.

Now, if I do travel to Chicago I go to Washington, D.C., and pick up the Capitol Limited.

Here is my shot of the last westbound Broadway Limited, taken at Metropark Station in Iselin, New Jersey. I believe the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Broadway Limited tail car Mountain View was supposed to be on the back, but a failed inspection sidelined it.

Your picture in the same issue of the X2000 also brought back memories. I rode the train twice when it was in regular service. It was a comfortable train, but I like the way the Acela turned out better.

Photographs by Jack Norris

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Capitol Limited Stowaway Charged With Using Vouchers Bought With Stolen Credit Card

October 21, 2016

Police arrested a man in Pittsburgh who authorities said stowed away aboard Amtrak’s Capitol Limited using travel vouchers acquired with a stolen credit card.

amtrak-capitol-limitedAmtrak police arrested Javon Damian Jones who appeared before a judge in Pittsburgh on Oct. 19.

Police are unsure of Jones’ hometown, but said the last place they were able to determine that he lived was in a community shelter in Cleveland.

Although police have yet to disclose details about why Jones was detained, authorities said they had been watching him as part of a continuing criminal investigation.

Jones is alleged to have used nearly $7,000 in vouchers that he acquired with a stolen credit card.

Police said Jones traveled alone Chicago and Washington without luggage in a sleeping car room.

Jones was charged with receiving stolen property and being a stowaway. Police said additional charges are pending.

Toledo Amtrak Station to Get Improvements

October 10, 2016

Funding has been approved by the Ohio Rail Development Commission for a renovation of Toledo Central Union Terminal.

Amtrak 4Now known as Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, the station will receive such repairs as resurfacing the platforms used by Amtrak passengers, new drainage, improved signs and canopy repairs.

The project cost will $1.2 million. The two 1,500-foot station platforms were rebuilt by Amtrak in 2013.

They will receive tactile edges for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.

ORDC gave the approval last month for spending $938,300 in federal funds for the station work.

Those funds were earmarked in 2009 in a U.S. Department of Transportation appropriation secured to support the development of a federally compliant development plan of passenger and freight rail service in the Detroit-Toledo-Cleveland corridor.

Work on that project was halted in 2011 when Ohio Gov. John Kasich ended all activities intended to develop a statewide network of 110-mph passenger trains and enhanced rail freight corridors known as the Ohio Hub Plan.

The Toledo Lucas County Port Authority, which owns MLK Plaza, is overseeing the station rehabilitation work and will contribute $250,000 of its own funds.

Other improvements that have been made in the past year at MLK Plaza have included spending $500,000 to add Greyhound station facilities and a 24- hour Subway sandwich shop.

Toledo is served by Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited.