Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Texas Eagle’

Lounges to Remain Absent from Amtrak’s Capitol Limited

May 24, 2021

Sightseer Lounge cars won’t be returning to the Capitol Limited next week when the train returns to daily operation.

The Rail Passengers Association reported on its website that it has been told by Amtrak that the absence of the popular cars from the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle is temporary.

“While temporary, we do not yet have a defined timeline for increasing Sightseer Lounge availability, and have placed the other five Western [long distance] routes at a higher priority for deploying these popular cars,” said Larry Chestler, Amtrak’s vice president of the Long-Distance business unit. “We also are maintaining the Sightseer Lounge on the City of New Orleans due to our long-standing axle count requirements in Illinois.”

That means the Capitol Limited and Texas Eagle will will continue to operate with a single food-service car.

Chestler said Amtrak has a shortage of the lounge cars due to coronavirus contingencies. He said the cars will be restored once it’s possible to do so.

The Capitol Limited is scheduled to return to daily operation on May 31 while the Texas Eagle will resume daily operation today (May 24).

In a related development, Amtrak expects to resume full-service dining aboard Western long distance trains as early as June. Last May it switched to the contemporary dining model as a response to COVID-19 pandemic.

The passenger carrier is recalling furloughed workers and getting them qualified.

RPA said it was told that once traditional dining returns to the Western trains, Amtrak will begin work on “improvements to dining services on other [long-distance] routes, including the Eagle.”

Thanksgiving Travel Relatively Quiet at Amtrak

November 30, 2020

The Thanksgiving 2020 travel period was a relatively quiet one for Amtrak.

In the past the intercity carrier has leased equipment from rail commuter agencies to offer additional service in the Northeast, added additional cars to long-distance trains, and operated extra sections on some Midwest Corridor routes out of Chicago.

But this year it was just business as usual with little additional capacity being added.

A report on the Trains magazine website indicated that the only extra trains added this year were a Boston-Washington Northeast Regional roundtrip and one Acela roundtrip between New York and Washington.

The COVID-19 pandemic depressed holiday travel this year although airlines reported their highest single day loads since the pandemic began in earnest last March.

The Trains report said few trains were sold out this year although some sellouts occurred on corridor and long-distance trains on certain days.

Due to the pandemic Amtrak is limiting coach class travel to 50 percent of capacity.

Amtrak has since October operated nearly all of its long-distance trains three days a week.

That meant that some trains did not operate on days that would ordinarily have a seen a high demand for travel.

On Sunday, which airlines say is historically the busiest travel day of the year, Amtrak had just one long-distance train, the Texas Eagle, departing from Chicago.

Some long-distance trains did experience sell outs, including the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited.

Nos. 29 and 30 in recent months has been operating with just four cars, two coaches, a sleeper and a food service car.

But No. 30 departing Chicago on Saturday (Nov. 28) and Monday (Nov. 30) had no available seats available, the Trains report said.

The report said the Texas Eagle had no available coach seating between Chicago and St. Louis on Friday or Sunday in either direction.

The Trains report said space on many long-distance trains that experienced sell outs sold out weeks in advance of the Thanksgiving travel period.

However, Amtrak declined to add additional capacity to those trains.

With health officials seeking to discourage holiday travel, some long-distance trains experienced cancellations as the holiday period drew near, thus opening seats on the day of departure.

Most Amtrak Long-Distance Trains Will Arrrive, Depart Chicago on Monday, Thursday, Saturday

August 14, 2020

Most of Amtrak’s long-distance trains will arrive and depart Chicago on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, thus enabling same-day connections on those days between Amtrak’s western and eastern long-distance trains once they move to tri-weekly operation in October.

Trains magazine reported on its website on Thursday afternoon the new schedules, which it said were contained in a message to employees that it obtained.

That schedule shows the reduction in frequency of service will be phased in on Oct. 5 on the California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, City of New Orleans, and Crescent.

On Oct. 12 the Coast Starlight, Lake Shore Limited, Southwest Chief, and Texas Eagle will move to tri-weekly operation.

The Empire Builder and Palmetto will assume tri-weekly schedules on Oct. 19.

If the schedule information presented by Trains is accurate, there will be no same-day connections from the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited to the westbound Texas Eagle.

Nos. 29 and 49/449 are slated to depart their eastern endpoint cities of Boston, New York and Washington on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, thus putting them into Chicago on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

The Texas Eagle, though, is scheduled to depart Chicago on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

Nos. 30 and 48/448 are scheduled to leave Chicago on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

The inbound Eagle will offer same-day connections with those trains on Thursday and Saturday.

The Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited will offer same-day connections on Monday and Saturday to the California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Empire Builder and City of New Orleans.

There will be no westbound same-day connections from Nos. 29 and 49/449 to the California Zephyr on Thursday but there will be connections to Nos. 3, 7 and 59.

As for same-day eastbound connections to Nos. 30 and 48/448, the inbound California Zephyr, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief and City of New Orleans will make those connections on all three days.

The Cardinal already operates tri-weeky, reaching Chicago on the same days of the week that have been set for the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

However, No. 50 departs Chicago on Tuesday and there will be no inbound connections to the Cardinal from any western long distance train on that day. The Cardinal also departs Chicago on Thursday and Saturday.

The schedules, if they are implemented as reported by Trains, will mean that Amtrak will stop in Cleveland and other Northeast Ohio cities on every day except Wednesday.

Nos. 48/448 and 30 will arrive in Cleveland on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Nos. 29 and 49/449 will arrive on Thursday, Saturday and Monday.

The schedule changes will not affect the Auto Train, which will remain daily.

The Sunset Limited already operates tri-weekly and frequency reductions were implemented in early July for the Silver Star and Silver Meteor.

Fast Action Saved the Day on Amtrak Trip

July 22, 2019

Amtrak’s Texas Eagle saunters into St. Louis in a vide made from a downtown hotel. That is the Mississippi River in the background and Busch Stadium in the right foreground.

Some quick thinking and fast action enabled Ed Ribinskas to avoid what could have been a major league disappointment traveling on Amtrak earlier this month.

When he saw that Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited was not leaving Pittsburgh he was able to rebook his trip to Chicago on the Lake Shore Limited.

That was important because Ed, his brother Steve, and his nephew Justin were making a connection in Chicago with the Texas Eagle en route to St. Louis for a long weekend that included taking in a MLB baseball game at Busch Stadium.

No. 29 arrived in Pittsburgh 33 minutes late, but by the time it left the station it was five hours behind schedule.

It wouldn’t get any better. It arrived in Cleveland at 9:44 a.m., nearly seven hours late, and reached Chicago at 3:54 p.m., seven hours late.

Ed said he wonders if other passengers holding reservations aboard No. 29 that day were stuck in Cleveland until it showed up.

He said the Cleveland station agent made no announcements about the status of No. 29.

Yet at such stops as Toledo and Elkhart, Indiana, Amtrak onboard personnel said they were boarding passengers for both trains.

The crew on No. 49, Ed said, was very friendly and helpful.

To be sure, No. 49 was 31 minutes late arriving in Cleveland and 50 minutes behind schedule in Chicago, but Ed’s travel party easily made the connection to the Eagle.

That day’s Texas Eagle had Phase III livery P40 No. 822 on the point. No. 21 departed Chicago 36 minutes late and arrived in St. Louis 46 minutes down.

One reason Ed wanted to ride No. 21 was to have dinner in the dining car. It would be the only train of the four he rode with a full-service diner.

Ed’s party was able to get the first seating for dinner. When they arrived just three tables were occupied. “However, our waiter and the food were very good,” he said.

Ed and Steve had the Norwegian salmon with rice pilaf and baby green beans. Justin had the thyme-roasted with mashed potatoes and baby green beans.

The return trip to Cleveland began on a Tuesday morning aboard Lincoln Service Train No. 302 “[It] probably had the best crew I’ve seen,” Ed said. “It was just the conductor and café attendant but they did everything.”

There was no dining car, so Ed settled for having a cinnamon roll and coffee for breakfast.

In Chicago, Ed said he saw the 822 return with a late No. 22.

That night’s eastbound Capitol Limited left Union Station 41 minutes late and pulled into Cleveland 1.5 hours off schedule.

On the way past the Chicago service facility aboard No. 30, Ed managed to get some grab shots of a couple of Amtrak heritage locomotives.

He reported that he also twice saw locomotives wearing the colors of the Bessemer & Lake Erie, one in Gary, Indiana, and another near Joliet, Illinois.

But neither time was he able to get his camera out fast enough to get a photo.

In looking back on his trip, Ed said the crews on the Lake Shore Limited, Texas Eagle and Lincoln Service were good to very good. But the crew on the Capitol Limited was cranky.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

The Phase III P40 heritage unit brought the Texas Eagle back to Chicago. It is seen in the Amtrak coach yard.

The Phase IV heritage unit was also in Chicago as Ed passed by aboard No. 30.

Ed’s borther Steve (left) and nephew Justin show off some Cleveland pride at Busch Stadium, but note that they are wearing St. Louis Cardinals hats. The redbirds were hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A view of St. Louis looking west from the Gateway Arch. Union Station can be seen in the distance.

One of the fabled Budweiser Clydesdale horses was an attracting during a tour of the brewery.