Posts Tagged ‘Cardinal’

LSL to be Assigned Viewliner II Sleepers

August 30, 2021

Viewliner II sleeping cars will be assigned to Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited after Labor Day.

They will be assigned to the New York section and replace Viewliner I cars.

Nos. 48 and 49 typically carry three sleepers west of Albany-Rennsselaer, New York, where the New York and Boston sections of the train combine.

The Boston section has one sleeper and the New York section has two. Amtrak plans to continue operating Viewliner I sleepers on the Boston section.

Amtrak observed a milestone last week when it took delivery of the last two Viewliner II sleepers, No. 62523, Wabash River, and No. 62524, Westfield River.

That also marked the completion of the 130-car Viewliner order that Amtrak placed in 2010 with CAF USA. The order included sleepers, dining cars, baggage cars, and baggage-dorm cars.

Twenty-five cars in the order were sleeping cars although the baggage-dorm cars also have sleeping accommodations for on-board crew members.

The cars had been expected to be completed by 2015, but production delays meant the first car, a diner, didn’t roll off the assembly line and into Amtrak’s possession until late 2016.

The first Viewliner II sleeper arrived on Amtrak property in February 2019.

Amtrak has announced plans to rehabilitate the interiors of the Viewliner I sleepers as well as its Superliner fleet.

The Viewliner II sleepers have two bedrooms and one accessible bedroom. Standard bedrooms have a separate annex for the toilet and a private shower.

There also is a shower facility at the end of the car for roomette passengers. Viewliner II cars have 11 roomettes whereas the Viewliner I cars have 12 reoomettes.

In the Viewliner II cars two washrooms for community use have replaced one roomette.

Viewliner I roomettes feature in-room toilet facilities on a seat under a folding wash basin.

Trains carrying Viewliner II sleepers thus have a slightly reduced inventory of sleeper accommodations.

Amtrak has been noncommittal thus far as to whether eastern long-distance trains carrying one Viewliner sleeper will receive additional sleeping cars once the Lake Shore Limited is re-equipped.

The Chicago-New York Cardinal and New York-New Orleans Crescent each have just one sleeper in their consist although both trains also carry a baggage-dome car for the crew.

Before 2019, the Cardinal had carried a second sleeper during the spring, summer and fall.

Amtrak’s ‘Midnight Blue’ Passes Through

August 20, 2021

Amtrak’s Midnight Blue locomotive passed through Northeast Ohio Thursday and Friday mornings on the point of the Lake Shore Limited.

P42DC No. 100 wears a one-off dark blue livery that observes Amtrak’s 50th anniversary and pays tribute to its workers who are assigned to overnight trains.

No. 100 was accompanied by P42DC No. 46, which is painted in the standard Phase V livery but carries the 50th anniversary herald on its flanks.

That duo went west on No. 49 on Thursday and east on No. 48 on Friday.

A notable addition to No. 48 on Friday was the consist of Amtrak’s Cardinal consisting of two Amfleet II coaches, an Amfleet food service car, a Viewliner sleeper and a Viewliner baggage-dorm.

That equipment was being ferried to New York to make up the westbound Cardinal that will depart the Big Apple on Sunday morning.

It would have operated from Chicago to New York on Thursday night and throughout Friday but Train 50 was canceled east of Indianapolis due to a CSX freight train derailment 20 miles east of Indianapolis Thursday morning.

No. 50 of Thursday night terminated in Indianapolis and reportedly had a consist of one locomotive, one coach and one food service car.

The Cardinal consist was tacked onto the rear of No. 48. Throughout the summer Nos. 48 and 49 have operated with two P42DC locomotives, a Boston Viewliner sleeper, an Amfleet café car, four Amfleet II coaches, a Viewliner dining car, two New York Viewliner sleepers and a Viewliner baggage car.

In past years Nos. 48 and 49 have had two Boston coaches and four New York coaches.

Prospects of Making Amtrak’s Cardinal a Daily Train Discussed at Meeting Held in Cincinnati

September 24, 2016

Map of Amtrak's Cardinal showing its station stops. It more stations in West Virginia than in any other state.

Map of Amtrak’s Cardinal showing its station stops. It more stations in West Virginia than in any other state.

Amtrak supporters met in Cincinnati on Friday to push for making the Chicago-New York Cardinal a daily train rather than the tri-weekly operation that it has been since the early 1980s.

Amtrak CardinalRail passenger advocates and public officials heard Amtrak officials outline the challenges facing daily service as well as how to overcome those.

“We’ve been building toward an event like this for a very long time. If you truly want to make this train better, you’ve got to run it seven days a week,” said Amtrak senior government affairs specialist Charlie Monte Verde. “We’re pitching this as a modern economic engine. We’re not trying to trade on the ghosts of the past.”

A Cincinnati chamber of commerce official echoed those sentiments.

“This is a piece of the puzzle for the chamber’s transportation strategy of connecting people to jobs,” said Jason Kershner, the chamber’s vice president for government relations. “We’ve really put our stake in the ground that transportation is important to business.”

The Cincinnati meeting was billed as a step toward building a coalition of communities along the route of the Cardinal who want better service.

Amtrak officials have said the cost of a daily Cardinal remains unknown. Much of the route uses tracks owned by CSX, which might demand capital improvements before agreeing to host a daily Cardinal.

Monte Verde said once the capital needs are known Amtrak could ask for an appropriation from Congress or attempt to build seven-day-a-week service into its budget somehow. He would not discuss potential costs.

“We think there is the space out there to make this train daily, but the first real step is to work with the railroads to see what their traffic is like,” Monte Verde said.

Amtrak officials said ridership would likely increase with more service because trains become more reliable the more they run.

“A daily Cardinal is a starting point,” Monte Verde said. “From there, you build the kind of awareness you need to have a discussion [about] a Cincinnati-Indianapolis-Chicago short corridor service.”

“It’s a step forward, and it’s going to be a step we build upon,” said Derek Bauman, the southwest Ohio chair of rail advocacy group All Aboard Ohio.

Cincy Amtrak Boarding Procedures Detailed

September 7, 2016

Access to the boarding platform at Cincinnati Union Terminal has changed due to a construction project that began in July and will extend through late 2018.

Amtrak CardinalAmtrak passengers will be escorted in groups through the construction area for the next two years. Passengers will not be permitted to enter the walkway to the waiting room unescorted.

Served by the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal, passengers boarding in Cincinnati are asked to wait in the lobby area to be escorted to the waiting room.

Amtrak recommends that passengers arrive at CUT 45 minutes before their train departure time.

Detraining passengers will take an elevator, stairway or ramp to the waiting room where security personnel will escort them to the lobby to exit the station.

February Crude Oil Derailment Took a Toll on Amtrak’s Cardinal Ridership in West Virginia

December 28, 2015

Two Amtrak routes serve West Virginia and one of them suffered a service disruption last February following a CSX crude oil train derailment.

But that did not stop the Charleston Amtrak station from seeing an increase in ridership in fiscal year 2015.

The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Served by the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal, Charleston boarded and discharged 9,844 passengers. That is an increase of 1.75 percent over the FY 2015 ridership figures.

Martinsburg, served by the daily Chicago-Washington, D.C., Capitol Limited , experienced a 4.9 percent increase in ridership to 10,309 passengers.

Overall, Amtrak ridership in West Virginia fell 2.9 percent in 2015, to 54,077. Charleston was the only station served by the Cardinal to post a ridership increase.

Prince (which serves Beckley) and Hinton each saw drops of nearly 12 percent, with 2,925 passengers at Prince and 7,506 at Hinton.

Huntington experienced a 7 percent drop in ridership, going from 11,515 to 10,706 passengers in 2015.

White Sulphur Springs had a 1 percent decline, from 5,165 to 5,107 passengers. Two flag stops on the route of the Cardinal saw ridership declines of more than 20 percent, with 432 passengers at Alderson, and 295 passengers at Thurmond. The latter is the smallest town in America with regularly scheduled intercity passenger rail service.

Montgomery’s 2015 ridership of 639 was down just two passengers from 2014.

Harpers Ferry, which is served by the Capitol Limited, gained one passenger from 2014, for total ridership of 6,314.

The crude oil derailment on Feb. 16 in Mount Carbon closed the route of the Cardinal through West Virginia for 11 days. Amtrak canceled 10 trips of the Cardinal through West Virginia.

Chuck Riecks, vice chairman for government relations for the National Association of Railroad Passengers, and co-chairman of the Friends of the Cardinal advocacy group, expressed surprise that Charleston ridership gained in FY 2015 considering the February service disruption.

“Thankfully, they were, shall we say, in the slow time of the year,” he said. “It would have been much worse if it occurred in a peak period.”

Amtrak said the 10 cancellations resulted in a 37 percent drop in ridership on the Cardinal, which carried 4,418 passengers in February 2015 compared with 6,512 passengers in February 2014.

Peak ridership for the Cardinal came in July when it carried 10,845 passengers.

Riecks said ridership at the Charleston station has been consistent in recent years.

“Charleston’s sort of stuck in the 9,500-to-10,500 range,” he said, adding, “We never seem to crack the 11,000 mark.”

The Cardinal operates through Charleston on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in both directions.

The 2015 ridership in the capital city of West Virginia worked out to an average of 32.6 passengers boarding or detraining per train.

By comparison, 2015 ridership for other Amtrak stations served by the Cardinal included: Cincinnati, 12,503; Staunton, Virginia, 6,735; Ashland, Kentucky, 2,581; Maysville, Kentucky, 2,279; Clifton Forge, Virginia, 2,247; South Shore, Kentucky, 1,057; and Connersville, Indiana, 770.

2 Sites Eyed for Oxford Amtrak Station

December 10, 2015

Amtrak is eying two locations in Oxford for a station to serve the Chicago-New York Cardinal.

The sites include former BP Oil property at 719 S. Main St. and the area south of Chestnut Street adjacent to the city garage.

Railroad officials have indicated they favor the Chestnut Street site because the BP property does not have room for a 400-foot station platform.

“We are looking at a Category 4 station, just a platform with a canopy,” said City Manager Doug Elliot. “They gave us information on which site they prefer. We need to get approval, not only from Amtrak, but also CSX. Next, we have to talk about who owns the site.”

The Chestnut Street location not only would allow for a 400-foot platform but also has the advantage of having adjacent land that is publicly owned.

City officials said a category 4 station would be “a minimalist stop” and “basically a bus stop.”

Oxford Amtrak Committee member Alan Kyger said the platform design would need approval of CSX, which owns the tracks used by the Cardinal through Oxford, a southwestern Ohio city that is the home of Miami University.

CSX also owns the property on which the platform would be constructed, but the shelter at the site would be off railroad property.

“CSX owns the track and they are all about freight trains. Amtrak can interfere with freight travel,” Kyger said. “From what we hear, that can take a long time. CSX oversees all work on this project. It adds a layer of cost. It adds a layer of time.”

Kyger said having government entities owning much of the space to be used for the station helps the process.

“We’re at a point where we need to figure out where to put this and how much it will cost and who will pay for this,” Kyger said, adding that estimates may range from $500,000 to more than $1 million.

“Everybody agrees it’s a great thing but who’s going to pay for it?” he said.

Kyger said Amtrak and city officials are open to other possible locations for an Oxford station.

“It’s not moving as fast as I would like,” he said. “No doubt, everyone would like to see it moving faster than it is. The good news is that Amtrak is on board.”

Amtrak rejected making Oxford a stop for the tri-weekly Cardinal in 2009 but has been receptive to recent efforts to revive the idea.

Miami University has been supportive of the campaign to establish an Amtrak station in Oxford, which despite having been on the Cardinal route for several years has not had intercity rail passenger service since the early 1950s.

If the Oxford stop is established, the Cardinal, would serve the city in the dead of night. It would be the second stop on the route between Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

Capitol Limited Getting Back on Track

February 12, 2010

A very late westbound Capitol Limited stops at Alliance to discharge passengers in December. (Photograph by Roger Durfee)

After being sidelined for a week due to winter weather in the East and a derailment on CSX, Amtrak’s Capitol Limited is set to resume operations this weekend. The first train will be No. 30 from Chicago to Washington tonight (February 12). The first westbound Capitol  (No. 29) will depart Washington on Saturday (February 13).

The Capitol Limited last operated on February 5 when the westbound train was terminated at Connellsville, Pennsylvania. The train had struck three downed trees that fell during the storm. One tree became lodged beneath the lead locomotive while another was stuck under a coach. The crew managed to remove the trees, but then had to go off duty due to the hours of service law after reaching Connellsville.  A replacement crew could not immediate reach the train due to the winter storm closing roads.

Passengers were stranded for 22 hours before being taken by bus to Pittsburgh where they boarded the trainset that had made up Friday’s eastbound Capitol and resumed their journey to Chicago.  

The weekend storm dumped more than two feet of snow, prompting Amtrak to cancel many of its trains serving Washington. 

Also affected by the storm has been the Chicago-Washington Cardinal, which operatesd via Cincinnati. It has operated only between Chicago and Huntington, West Virginia, since last Friday. Amtrak said today that a date for resumption of full service has not been determined. The Cardinal operates tri-weekly.  

The Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited has been unaffected by the winter storms of the past week and has been operating normally.