Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving travel’

Amtrak Unable to Add Much Capacity to Handle Thanksgiving Travel Demand

November 24, 2021

Amtrak trains are expected to operate at full capacity or near capacity this week as travelers head out for the Thanksgiving holiday.

However, unlike in past years, the passenger carrier will be unable to expand consists of most trains to accommodate additional travelers.

As reported by Trains magazine on its website, Amtrak’s ability to expand consists is limited by equipment and crew shortages that are a byproduct of actions the carrier took during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic when ridership plunged.

Additional equipment that used to be assigned to Midwest corridor trains also has been shifted to the Pacific Northwest to cover schedules of Cascades Service that once used the now sidelined Talgo equipment.

Some Amfleet II coaches have been assigned to Midwest service, thus resulting in shorter consist for Eastern long distance trains.

Unlike in past years, there will be no extra corridor service in Illinois and Michigan.

To read the article about how Amtrak is handling Thanksgiving travel this year compared with past years, go to https://www.trains.com/trn/train-basics/abcs-of-railroading/amtrak-trains-during-the-holidays/

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.

Amtrak Suggests Travelers Buy Tickets Now for Thanksgiving Travel

November 11, 2020

Amtrak is urging travelers to buy tickets for Thanksgiving travel now although its announcements have not said whether additional cars will be added to trains during the holiday travel period.

A news release posted on the Amtrak website referenced “available seats added on many routes to maintain distancing.”

That may suggest additional coaches will be added to some trains.

In the past, Amtrak has indicated in its holiday travel news releases that all available equipment would be used during the Thanksgiving travel period.

However, concurrent with the intercity passenger carrier’s reducing the frequency of operation of nearly all long-distance trains to tri-weekly, Amtrak also has reduced the number of cars assigned to most trains.

In recent years, additional trains have operated for the Thanksgiving travel period in Illinois and Michigan, but that seems unlikely this year.

Those states have reduced their funding of Amtrak service and the number of trains on most Midwest corridor routes has been reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In its latest news release, Amtrak has reiterated that trains will not be operating at full capacity in order to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Seating will be half of capacity in coaches.

Holiday Fares, Direct Destinations to be lower at Hopkins This Year

October 24, 2020

Holiday season air fares from Cleveland Hopkins Airport are expected to be lower but the number of non-stop destinations will be nearly half as many as there were last year.

A travel industry consultant told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland that the average air fare from Hopkins for the Thanksgiving travel season will be $148 roundtrip while the average fare during the Christmas travel season is projected to be $173 roundtrip.

Those figures do not include fees for such things as checked baggage.

Those projections are 45 percent lower than the average fare last year for Thanksgiving travel and 48 percent less than last year for Christmas season travel.

Nationwide, the average fares for Thanksgiving and Christmas travel are expected to be $172 and $222 roundtrip respectively, which are 41 percent and 40 percent lower than 2019 averages.

The consultant told the newspaper that fares are lower this year because airlines are trying to lure back passengers who stopped traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fares are unlikely to change much between now and the holiday travel seasons, the consultant said.

Based on schedules for November already posted by the eight carriers serving Hopkins, there will be 29 nonstop destinations next month compared with 42 in November 2019.

Among the missing destinations are Washington Reagan National, New York Kennedy, Milwaukee, West Palm Beach (Florida), Salt Lake City, Austin (Texas), and Charleston (South Carolina).

United Airlines plans to end service next month between Cleveland and San Francisco, but has announced it will add flights to the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and Orlando.

It will also launch service to Cancun in Mexico. JetBlue has also launched new service between Cleveland and Fort Myers to supplement its existing flights to Fort Lauderdale.

Hopkins had 4,018 commercial flights in November 2019 but expects to see 2.099 this November.

Seven of the eight airlines serving Cleveland have one or more suspended destinations that they served in November 2019.

A ninth carrier, an Air Canada partner carrier, has yet to resume service to Toronto.

The most recent figures available from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics show Hopkins handled 315,149 passengers in August, a decline of 66 percent from August 2019. Nationwide, air travel was down 70 percent in August.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said it screened more than 1 million travelers on Oct. 18, the first time its daily screenings topped the million mark since last March.

However, those 1 million passengers screened was still 60 percent how many passed through security checkpoints nationwide on the same date a year ago.

Amtrak to Add Cars for Thanksgiving

October 15, 2020

Amtrak plans to add additional cars to some trains during the Thanksgiving holiday period, it said this week in a news release.

The passenger carrier urged travelers to book early for holiday travel and noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic capacity of the trains will be limited to 50 percent of available seats in coach class.

Since early fall Amtrak’s long-distance trains have been operating with sorter consists as the carrier implemented a plan to reduce operation of most of those trains from daily to tri-weekly.

The Lake Shore Limited, for example, is now operating with one New York sleeper instead of two.

Pa. Thanksgiving Travel Will Require Reservations

November 2, 2019

Amtrak said in a service advisory that the change is being made to accommodate an increased number of travelers expected during the Thanksgiving holiday travel.

Reservations will not be required for monthly and 10-ride ticket holders.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Keystone Service trains will operate on a Saturday schedule.

No Extra Amtrak Service to Michigan for Thanksgiving

November 1, 2019

Think Thanksgiving and images of turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie come to mind along with football games on TV and extra Amtrak trains to Michigan.

Well, you can scratch the latter from this year’s list of Thanksgiving traditions.

Amtrak will not be operating extra service to Michigan this year as it has in recent years.

The carrier said this week that rather than operate additional trains on its Pere Marquette (Chicago-Grand Rapids) and Wolverine Service (Chicago-Detroit) routes, it will instead assign additional coaches to existing trains.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Trains magazine that Amtrak made the decision to scrap the extra trains after reviewing ridership data from last year that found travel demand is spread out more evenly across more days than it has been previously.

The passenger carrier also decided to drop additional holiday service to Michigan because of poor on-time performance on host railroad Norfolk Southern in Chicago and northwest Indiana.

NS freight train interference accounted for 58 percent of the 20,143 delay minutes incurred by Amtrak trains traveling on the NS Chicago Line between Chicago and Porter, Indiana, where the routes to Michigan peel off.

About a quarter of the delays have been incurred by Wolverine Service No. 352, which departs Chicago at 1:20 p.m.

“If we try to put additional trains on those tracks and delays occur, this could have a cascading effect delaying outbound trains because inbound equipment didn’t arrive on time,” Magliari said.

So Amtrak will add an additional coach to all Wolverine Service trains operating between Nov. 27 and Dec. 1.

Other trains operating before and after that time period will also gain additional coaches.

Amtrak plans to add a coach to two Lincoln Service between Chicago and St. Louis round-trips, the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, Illini, and all Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, trains.

Extra trains will operate between Chicago and Quincy, and Chicago and Normal-Bloomington, Illinois, on Nov. 27 and Dec. 1.

But falling by the wayside are the additional Chicago-Holland, Michigan, and Chicago-Ann Arbor, Michigan, Thanksgiving holiday trains.

Extra Capacity Planned for Thanksgiving Holiday Travel

October 14, 2019

Amtrak plans to operate extra train service and added capacity in the Midwest and other regions of the country during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

In the Midwest, this will primarily mean extra trains to some downstate Illinois cities.

Additional capacity will be added to other Amtrak Midwest corridor routes in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Passengers traveling on the Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains will need reservations for travel between Nov. 26 and Dec. 2.

In a news release, Amtrak said it expects to operate every available rail car in its active duty fleet.

Additional trains are planned for the Northeast Corridor while additional cars will be added to corridor routes in the Midwest and West.

Added capacity will expand consists of Amtrak’s Keystone Service and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Keystone trains and the Pennsylvanian will require reservations for travel between Nov. 25 and Dec. 2.

Pacific Surfliner trains will require reservations between Nov. 27 and Dec. 2 for travel between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, California, via Los Angeles.

Last year Amtrak said it carried over 846,000 passengers systemwide during the Thanksgiving travel period include 160,000 customers the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

Increased Holiday Capacity Set for Pa. Trains

November 15, 2018

Amtrak will increase capacity of its Keystone Service trains as well as the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian to accommodate an expected increase in Thanksgiving week travel.

The carrier said all passengers traveling on those trains will need to make reservations for travel between Nov. 20-25.

Reservations will not be required for monthly and ten-ride ticket holders.

On Thanksgiving Day, Keystone Service trains will operate on a Saturday schedule.