Posts Tagged ‘Lake Shore Limited’

My Collection of 50th Anniversary Units Has Begun

September 11, 2021

Model trains, railroad collectibles, print photos, slides, slides, movies and video tapes all take up space in rooms, on walls, and in closets.

With the digital age a flash drive has no issues with taking up space.

I’m happy with digital images and I, like several others, have completed my collection of Norfolk Southern heritage units, Amtrak 40th Anniversary heritage units, and half of Union Pacific heritage units.

The new kids on the block are Amtrak’s 50th anniversary units. I how have No. 108, the Phase VI unit; and No. 100, the Midnight Blue unit.

Recently in order to photograph any of the 50th anniversary locomotives on train 48 close to home it train needs to be running at least an hour behind schedule.

Here are two occasions when that worked out. In the top image, No. 108 leads the eastbound Lake Shore Limited through Perry at 7:37 a.m. on July 29.

In the bottom image, No. 100 is on the point as No. 48 cruises past the former New York Central passenger station in Painesville on Sept. 10 at 7:53 a.m.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

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.

New Rail Alliance Pushes Old Idea

August 2, 2021

Although the coalition is new, the idea is not.

Seven rail passenger advocacy groups announced last week the formation of the Lakeshore Rail Alliance which has proposed expanding Amtrak’s Chicago-New York service via Cleveland, Buffalo and Toledo from one daily roundtrip to four.

Amtrak currently links Chicago and New York with two trains, the daily Lake Shore Limited via Cleveland and the Cardinal, which operates tri-weekly via Indianapolis, Cincinnati and West Virginia.

In past years Amtrak operated a third Chicago-New York train, the Broadway Limited. The Broadway was discontinued in September 1995 and for a few years another Chicago-New York train, the Three Rivers, ran between the two cities between November 1996 and March 2005.

Neither the Three Rivers nor the Broadway Limited operated over the Lakeshore Corridor.

The proposed four Chicago-New York trains concept was initially proposed in 2011 by Richard Harnish, the executive director of the High-Speed Rail Alliance, a Chicago-based group that is one of the seven members of the Lakeshore Alliance.

His original idea was to upgrade the route to enable trains to cover the distance on schedules several hours shorter than today’s Lake Shore Limited.

No. 48 is scheduled at 19 hours eastbound while No. 49 is scheduled at more than 20 hours.

The Harnish proposal has failed to gain any traction since it was proposed.

A draft plan released by the alliance shows that there would remain other trains in the Lakeshore Corridor, including existing Amtrak Empire Corridor service between New York and Buffalo, and the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited, which operates in the corridor between Chicago and Cleveland.

In a statement, the alliance described the Lakeshore Corridor as a series of overlapping short corridors.

“As a result, maximizing volume would require treating this as a single route—even if no one rode the train more than 400 miles,” the alliance said.

Michael Fuhrman, the executive director of the Lakeshore Alliance, said the Lakeshore Corridor is the second-most-important transportation corridor east of the Mississippi.

“It connects the Great Lakes megaregion of 55 million people with the Northeast Megaregion of 52 million people—the two largest of the 11 megaregions of the U.S. No other corridor between those two areas is better suited for development of passenger rail.”

By combining forces the alliance members hope to generate a wider swath of local political support for the public funding that would be needed to upgrade the Lakeshore Corridor, which largely involves host railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern.

Bill Hutchison, a former officer of alliance member All Aboard Ohio, believes that pushing for four trains might improve the likelihood of getting a second train on the route someday, or even a third.

“Local governments are on board, but we need an organizing force,” All Aboard Ohio member Ed D’Amato said. “We need to bring in new voices—we’re trying to build a choir here.”

Other groups in the coalition include the Empire State Passengers Association, Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance, Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association, All Aboard Erie, and the Northwest Ohio Passenger Rail Association. 

Some rail passenger advocates see the goal of the Lakeshore Alliance as noble but not necessarily realistic.

“Four trains would be great, but is it realistic?” said Richard Rudolph, chair of the Rail Users’ Network.

Rudolph agrees the lakeshore corridor should have at least two trains, but one of them could be a Chicago-Boston train that would not need to do any switching at the Albany-Rensselaer, New York, station as the current Lake Shore Limited does in combining and separating its New York and Boston sections.

He noted that Amtrak could add service to its national network without violating the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which limits the national network to routes operating when the law was adopted.

A Michigan rail passenger advocacy group reportedly wants to become involved in the lakeshore alliance, which currently lacks involvement with a group representing Massachusetts.

Last Stand for Solid Bessemer Power

June 8, 2021

Our June 18, 2014 outing had a game plan in place. Craig Sanders and I set out to start with eastbound Amtrak No. 48 and then focus on the Bessemer & Lake Erie knowing that solid Bessemer motive power was nearing the end.

We were fortunate with our catches on this day, and our predictions were correct because the following year the majority of Bessemer motive power was transferred elsewhere on the Canadian National system.

We began early in Conneaut to set up for the Lake Shore Limited if it was on time which would be about 6:50 a.m. Soon we found out it was running close to three hours behind schedule.

We saw a CSX and a Norfolk Southern train and then put Plan B into place.

We kept a sharp ear on the scanner for the Bessemer since that was our main objective, but worked our way to Lake City, Pennsylvania, knowing we could get back to intercept the Bessemer once we heard radio chatter on its frequency.

At Lake City we photographed five trains on CSX, including Amtrak. Once we heard the Bessemer squawking we worked our way to intercept a train coming out of the Conneaut harbor.

The top image is an eastbound CSX stack train led by BNSF motive power at 10:17 a.m. in Lake City.

Next up is the Lake Shore Limited at 11:02 a.m. Note that it still had Heritage Fleet baggage cars.

Our first shot of the Bessemer after its Conneaut departure was at Pond Road in Pennsylvania at 11:55 a.m. The same train is seen at 12:38 p.m. passing the site of the location of the B&LE passenger station in Albion, Pennsylvania. I’ll continue describing our good fortune in Part 2.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Amtrak Now Operating Daily in NEO

June 1, 2021

Amtrak is now operating daily through Northeast Ohio. For the first time since last October the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited ran in both directions early this morning as Amtrak implemented the second phase of its resumption of daily service of long distance trains.

Last week the Texas Eagle, California Zephyr, Empire Builder and Coast Starlight resumed daily operation on May 24.

On May 31, the Capitol and Lake Shore along with the Southwest Chief and City of New Orleans resumed daily operation.

The next round of trains to go back to daily service will be the Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Crescent and Palmetto on June 7.

The Cardinal and Sunset Limited will continue to operate tri-weekly as they have for many years.

In a related development, the Rail Passengers Associated reported it has learned traditional dining car service will return to Amtrak’s western long distance trains on June 23.

On its own website, Amtrak reports only that traditional dining has been suspended through June 30.

More details on the revamping of Amtrak’s dining service are expected to be released this week.

Boston LSL Section Disrupted by Track Work

May 10, 2021

Track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will disrupt operations of the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited through June 17 east of Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

On Monday through Thursday Train 448 will terminate at Albany. Alternate transportation will be provided to the missed stops of Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston South Station. No alternate transportation will be provided to the missed stop of Framingham.

Passengers bound for Boston Back Bay station will be bused to Boston South Station and then take an Amtrak or MBTA commuter train between South Station and Back Bay.

Train 448 also will observe these schedule changes on June 5 and 12, both Sundays.

Train 449 will originate in Albany with alternate transportation provided to the missed stops of Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield.

 No alternate transportation will be provided for the missed stops of Back Bay and Framingham.

Passengers traveling from Back Bay have the option of boarding at Boston South or traveling on alternate dates.

At Boston South Station passengers should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

At Worcester, passengers will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not occur at the bus terminal.

Amtrak Anniversary Saturday: A Photo Tribute to 50 Years of Amtrak

April 30, 2021

With Amtrak’s 50th anniversary being Saturday I’ve selected a small sample of Amtrak in each decade. Over the years I’ve ridden many trains throughout the country either myself or with family and friends. So many that I rode I also photographed trackside at some point.

For the 1970s, here is the westbound Lake Shore Limited at Madison in July 1977.

For the 1980s, I’ve chosen the Lake Shore Limited again, this time headed eastward in Cleveland on Aug. 29, 1984.

The 1990s tribute is the California Zephyr eastbound in Byers Canyon of Colorado on June 28, 1988. I also included the Vermonter northbound at Hartford, Vermont in fall 1998, and the eastbound Southwest Chief in Albuqerque on May 6, 1991.

For the 2000s I present the Empire Builder eastbound at Red Wing, Minnesota, on June 19, 2002; and the westbound Maple Leaf at St. Johnsville, New York, on Sept. 7, 2002.

For Amtrak’s fifth decade here is the eastbound Empire Builder at East Glacier, Montana, crossing Two Medicine Bridge on July 23, 2016, and the eastbound Pennsylvanian at Summerhill, Pennsylvania, on May 18, 2019.

Now, about that image of No. 49 made in Madison in 1977, yes, it has some flaws.

Here is how Ed explained those: “Believe it or not that is the only Amtrak photo I took in the ‘70s of an Amtrak train.

“Back then I used my Dad’s camera, which was not a 35 mm film camera. The shot was either the first or the last on the negative and when we got it back a giant staple was in it.

“I did not take many photos back then since I shot a lot with the regular 8 mm movie camera.

“I have more movies at that same location. What was always tough with the photos back then was when No. 49 came hrough Madison [I] was looking directly into the early morning sun.

“Amtrak had the early year flaws just like my photo.”

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Tracking the Amtrak Phase II Heritage Units

April 11, 2021

With the demise of Amtrak No. 66, the Phase II livery heritage unit, its replacement, P42DC No. 130 debuted late in 2018.

The only time I photographed it was on Nov. 11, 2018, trailing at Painesville on the eastbound Lake Shore Limited.

Looking through older photos, though, I found I did photograph it leading on Train No. 48 at Lloyd Road in Wickliffe on June 28, 2010.

Here it is splitting two coal trains for the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company coal-fired power plant in Eastlake when it was still in operation.

This is one of the many photos that I can say I’m glad I got it when I got it.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Track Work to Disrupt Boston LSL Section

March 27, 2021

Track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Tranportation Authority will affect operations of the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited on March 28.

Train 448 will terminate at Albany-Rensselaer, New York. Alternate transportation will be provided to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston South Station but no alternate transportation is being provided to Framingham.

Passengers traveling to Boston Back Bay station will be bused to Boston South and take an Amtrak or MBTA commuter train to Back Bay.

Train 449 will originate in Albany with alternate transportation being provided from Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield.

No alternate transportation will be provided from Back Bay or Framingham.

Passengers originating at Back Bay have the option of boarding at Boston South or traveling another date.

Passengers boarding at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

Passengers boarding at Worcester will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not take place at the bus terminal.

There will be no business class or sleeping car between Boston and Albany on the affected date.