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AMTRAK snow cancellations

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AMTRAK snow cancellations
Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, February 1, 2010 7:04 AM

Anyone know why the many snow cancellations and delays on the Florida trains and Carolinian this weekend? Know Raleigh had a lot of snow but nothing like the midwest has.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, February 1, 2010 8:32 PM

blue streak 1

Anyone know why the many snow cancellations and delays on the Florida trains and Carolinian this weekend? Know Raleigh had a lot of snow but nothing like the midwest has.

Snow being a frequent occurrence in the Midwest they have such things as switch heaters on most if not all power operated switches.

Raleigh being considered Southern and with snow being a very infrequent visitor has no such installations.

Railroads of the 21st Century have no more M of W employees on the payroll than are absolutely required to maintain the property under normal circumstances.  Snow and it's removal in the South is as far from a normal circumstance as one can get and the carriers do not have sufficient manpower to keep the necessary switches operating under severe weather incidents.

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Posted by henry6 on Monday, February 1, 2010 8:46 PM

Actually from south Jersey through Delaware, Maryland, Virginia into N. Carolina there was quite a bit of snow.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 4:36 PM

Had someone call me and said that it was locomotive failure that caused the cancellations. Am wondering if the DC locos got ground faults same as the CAL Z week before last . Anyone know? Was also told that AutoTrain had 4 + locos and that is why they made it through. Don't know if they used some CSX ACs. Of course AutoTrain is AMTRAK's premier train and they try to keep it running. Just one more reason to buy ACs for the next order of locos. 

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Posted by BNSFwatcher on Friday, February 5, 2010 3:22 PM

The "Am-Wimps" strike again!  At the meerest prediction of a snow, or a blow, they shut down!  I remember traveling on the old CNR, and NYC, and even on Amtrak, in BNSF territory, where nothing stopped the train.  A New York Central "Beeliner", bucking snow drifts on the St. Lawrence Division, was an experience, especially when they had to back up and try again!  What has gotten into their psyche?  Too much time in the "District"?  Too many lawyers on board?  "Wimps", I say!!!

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Posted by BNSFwatcher on Friday, February 5, 2010 3:33 PM

Funny, or, maybe pathetic.  The "Silver Star" and "Silver Meteor" are still scheduled, but everything else is annulled or cancelled.  Very strange, methinks.

Hays

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Posted by BT CPSO 266 on Friday, February 5, 2010 3:42 PM

The Northeast Regionals are having cancellations too! 

I don't understand, don't these trains plow through the snow easily? 

"The Pennsylvanian" from Pittsburgh to New York is running on it's schedule (currently) and the "Keystone Service" remains undisturbed (@ the moment).These areas are supposed to get hammered.

The ability to operate in weather conditions that planes can't is the advantage rails have. 

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, February 5, 2010 5:08 PM

BT CPSO 266

The Northeast Regionals are having cancellations too! 

I don't understand, don't these trains plow through the snow easily? 

"The Pennsylvanian" from Pittsburgh to New York is running on it's schedule (currently) and the "Keystone Service" remains undisturbed (@ the moment).These areas are supposed to get hammered.

The ability to operate in weather conditions that planes can't is the advantage rails have. 

 

The 'HAMMERED' area is expected to be from Philadelphia South with the worst being in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan areas.  Additionally the type of snow...Heavy/Wet is the type that had caused severe catenary damage in the past.  Current forecast is for 2 feet.

Southwest Airlines has cancelled ALL flights out of their Baltimore-Washington International airport hub effective 2 PM today.  Baltimore is one of the major hubs on the Southwest network.

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Posted by henry6 on Friday, February 5, 2010 6:54 PM

There seems to be some kind of paranoia instilled in school systems, transit and transportation systems, and othe public like things, some say by lawyers, others say by neophytes.  There is a pevailing fear in transportation circles that force cancellation of services before hand so as not to have to deal with the problem in progress.  They fear trying and failing so they don't try at all. Or trying, failing, and being sued if they don't deliver the ride to destiniation or someone gets injured.  Not just Amtrak. commuter agencies do the same.  Is it smart to not operate and avoid stalled trains and upset passengers?  Or is it smarter to attempt to provide the service you claim to be in?  Yeah, this is an attitude statement.  The truth is that so much has changed since Amtrak started that it is hard to say just why they'd rather not run.  It is easier, and warmer, than  facing a zillion minus zero temperature and a milllion mile an hour wind whipping three feet of snow a minute at you.. And since roads are closed and airplanes are grounded, who's going anywhere anyway? 

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Posted by schlimm on Friday, February 5, 2010 8:22 PM

20 - 30 " sounds like pretty tough sledding for a train even in the Sierras, Buffalo or Montana back in the 60's.  But this is on the line from Washington to Charlottesville, VA.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, February 5, 2010 9:16 PM

schlimm

20 - 30 " sounds like pretty tough sledding for a train even in the Sierras, Buffalo or Montana back in the 60's.  But this is on the line from Washington to Charlottesville, VA.

Actually Cresent is on time into Lynchburg. But wonder how many passengers?

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, February 6, 2010 7:02 AM

BNSFwatcher

The "Am-Wimps" strike again!  At the meerest prediction of a snow, or a blow, they shut down!  I remember traveling on the old CNR, and NYC, and even on Amtrak, in BNSF territory, where nothing stopped the train.  A New York Central "Beeliner", bucking snow drifts on the St. Lawrence Division, was an experience, especially when they had to back up and try again!  What has gotten into their psyche?  Too much time in the "District"?  Too many lawyers on board?  "Wimps", I say!!!

Grab a shovel and broom, you can always help keep the switch points clear so the trains can get through. 

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by oltmannd on Saturday, February 6, 2010 8:09 AM
When the snow gets bad enough, Amtrak "straight rails" their RR and won't even attempt to throw switches (except at the terminals, I suppose.) Hence, there have to be some cancellations.

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Posted by DMUinCT on Saturday, February 6, 2010 8:58 AM

Amtrak ??  amTRACK ???

The MBTA owns the track from Boston to the Rhode Island state line.  From New Haven to New York  it's Metro North Railroad (Connecticut & New York states). South of Washington it's the Freight railroads that must clear there tracks.   If it's too deep for the locomotive plow to clear, well, no service or wait.  If crews can't get to work do to the storm and road closure ?  If food service and support is shut down ?

In the Northeast 6" to 12" of snow is usual and offen, that we can deal with.

Don U. TCA 73-5735

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Posted by gardendance on Saturday, February 6, 2010 10:56 AM

 I heard on last night's tv news that Delaware had declared no driving for normal people at 10pm, with exceptions for certain unspecified, I assume hospital, utility, etc.., people.

So if the state itself says nobody can drive, or closes important roads, doesn't that mean nobody can get to or from the train station even if trains are running?

In my neighborhood, Philadelphia, SEPTA  put out a notice

http://www.septa.org/media/releases/2010/02-05.html

that they were going to give an hour's notice of suspending service BEFORE they expected vehicles to get stuck

Previously, the policy had been to operate every route until conditions forced a halt. This policy has often left passengers stranded in vehicles, or waiting at transit stops or stations for vehicles that never arrive. This is obviously uncomfortable and potentially dangerous for our customers and employees.

New technology enables the SEPTA Control Center to constantly monitor the precise movement and location of virtually every vehicle in our fleet, thus as severe weather moves into the region we are able to immediately identify trouble spots in time to alert the public through web communications and the news media. System status will be constantly updated on the SEPTA web site.


 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, February 6, 2010 12:44 PM

gardendance

  activated
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, February 6, 2010 1:21 PM

oltmannd
When the snow gets bad enough, Amtrak "straight rails" their RR and won't even attempt to throw switches (except at the terminals, I suppose.) Hence, there have to be some cancellations.

Just one more reason to have 4 tracks from NYP all the way to WASH. This also is the reason that CSX's RIC south track being single track with sidings cannot handle a lot of train meets when ther is snow! That causes the AMTRAK cancellations.

 

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Posted by wanswheel on Saturday, February 6, 2010 8:22 PM

The New York Times

A Wicked Storm, and a Train Trip Interrupted  by Liz Robbins

When the powerful Mid-Atlantic winter storm grounded all flights and shut down highways in the Mid-Atlantic region, Amtrak’s Capitol Limited, bound for Chicago from Washington, seemed to offer 115 passengers the perfect cozy alternative as it sped through the snow-swept countryside on Friday night.

But around 2:45 a.m. on Saturday, the train made an unscheduled stop just outside the former coal-mining town of Connellsville, Pa., 57 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. There, downed trees and power lines blocked the Capitol Limited, stranding and infuriating passengers who said they were not updated about the situation.

"This is outrageous," Sheribel Rothenberg, 65, from Chicago, said on a fellow passenger’s cell phone from the stranded train Saturday afternoon. "Nobody can do anything about the weather, but be truthful, keep us informed. Here we are on a train full of people, trying to get to funerals, weddings, or whatever, and they can’t get there. It’s very sad."

The downed power lines and other debris were on tracks owned by the freight company CSX, according to Clifford Cole, an Amtrak spokesman.

Removing the fallen trees posed challenges for workers. "As they clear them, more trees come down," said Robert Sullivan, a spokesman for CSX. "So it’s a constant project."

Complicating matters, a freight train had derailed on the tracks behind the train in Cumberland, Pa.

And there was one more problem: Amtrak’s train and engine crews had worked their maximum allowable hours, but could not be relieved because whiteout conditions in Western Pennsylvania highways prevented replacements from getting there.

The cars had heat, electricity, and meals to last through Saturday lunch. But by the 15th hour outside Connellsville, passengers were getting restless, the bathrooms were getting dirty and the view — murals paying homage to the mining industry — never changed.

"It’s pretty stressful," said Reginald Townsend, who was traveling to Chicago with his two daughters, ages 3 and 4. "No one’s cleaned up the bathrooms and I’m worried about the germs the kids could get."

Jessie McGill, 69, and his wife, Nancy, of Myrtle Beach, S.C. were on their way to Whitefish, Mont., via Chicago. "I’ve been planning this for a long time," he said. "I’ve already missed my connection today. And now, I don’t know if I’m going to make it tomorrow."

Amtrak had already canceled many of its routes along the Northeast corridor in the wake of the storm Friday and Saturday. And train No. 29 was not the only one stranded, Mr. Cole said, but he did not have information on the others.

Mr. Cole said that passengers were allowed to get off the train at the small platform in Connellsville for fresh air. One passenger called a friend in Pittsburgh who came to pick him up and take him home, according to two passengers who heard this man place the distress call.

The other passengers who had no such relief hunkered down for the night in coach or the sleeping cars. Amtrak had reached out to the local Kentucky Fried Chicken, which was supplying the train with dinner, Mr. Cole said. The chef onboard disembarked to go to the local grocery store for breakfast. "This is a situation we don’t want to have happen, but we’re trying to make accommodations," he said.

Passengers were trading books and magazines, downloading new books on their Kindle, and getting to know their seatmates better than they thought they ever would.

"I feel like I am camping," said Ms. Rothenberg. She and a fellow lawyer had been in Washington all week taking depositions. They were delighted that they were able to get a ticket at the last minute when Delta had canceled their flights Friday night. Their joy was short-lived.

Ms. Rothenberg traded three issues of The New Yorker for another passenger’s old copy of Huckleberry Finn. She was pleasantly diverted by Huck and Jim’s adventures, even as she glanced out the window anxiously.

"They’re up the river somewhere in Kentucky," she said of Huck and Jim, "which is better than up the river somewhere in Pennsylvania."

Indeed, the Capitol Limited was stopped opposite the banks of the Youghiogheny River, where thin chunks of ice moved gracefully in the current, making far more progress than the weary passengers.

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Posted by BT CPSO 266 on Saturday, February 6, 2010 8:31 PM

blue streak 1
Just one more reason to have 4 tracks from NYP all the way to WASH. This also is the reason that CSX's RIC south track being single track with sidings cannot handle a lot of train meets when ther is snow! That causes the AMTRAK cancellations.

 

Is that why the Aclea trains between NYC and D.C. were canceled but the Northeast Regionals were not.

 

On a side note, I am curious to know why "The Pennsylvanian" was delayed 5 hours today? "The Capitol Limited" was canceled so it did not have to wait for the layover. I guess NS must of had delays. 

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Posted by conrailman on Saturday, February 6, 2010 8:41 PM

That my homebase trains Amtrak 29&30 and 42&43. That was last night Amtrak 29 got stuck. People are going to Stuck 3 or more days at the Airport getting the backlog of airplanes out at D.C. BWI, Philly and other airports. people complain all the time on Amtrak when stuff gos bad.  This is Biggest Snow we had in a long time.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, February 6, 2010 9:32 PM

BT CPSO 266

Is that why the Aclea trains between NYC and D.C. were canceled but the Northeast Regionals were not.

2 of the 3 scheduled both ways did operate however one northbound arrived NYP 3:40 late and another 1:53. Southbounds one hasn't made it south of BAL so they did operate some. Guess it was fortunate they on a Saturday schedule.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, February 7, 2010 10:12 AM

List of AMTRAK cancellations for today sun feb 7. 1st time they have posted such and it needs to be done every day to identify any cancellations or major delays.

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=AM_Alert_C&pagename=am/AM_Alert_C/Alerts_Popup&p=1237608345018&cid=1246043867137

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Posted by BT CPSO 266 on Sunday, February 7, 2010 1:17 PM

Well pretty much the whole "Northeast Corridor" between NYC & The Capital are canceled. "The Keystone Service" is not moving past Philly, but "The Pennsylvanian" is still scheduled to operate through to NYC this evening. 

Still don't understand why so many trains have to be canceled? and why "The Pennsylvanian" has the go ahead?

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, February 7, 2010 3:29 PM

BT CPSO 266

Still don't understand why so many trains have to be canceled? and why "The Pennsylvanian" has the go ahead?

Suspect that many people cannot get to train stations and this is bringing those few passengers onto the fewer trains.

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Posted by henry6 on Sunday, February 7, 2010 3:51 PM

Train operations in snow have been pretty well covered here as has most of this storm. The worst of the storm in southeast and southwest of Philadelphia. NY to Phila is operating OT (NJT) and the line to Pittsburgh is more west than south so it too can handle trains.  No, people in the snow area can't get around too well nor can employees get to work! More important now is the staging of equipment which has been tied up in terminals.  Once the employees can get to work and equipment is cleared and ready, operations will move toward normal.  Also, there freight movements on the non Amtrak owned track help keep traffic moving, quite a change from the days passenger trains kept lines open for frieght!

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, February 7, 2010 4:59 PM

BT CPSO 266

Well pretty much the whole "Northeast Corridor" between NYC & The Capital are canceled. "The Keystone Service" is not moving past Philly, but "The Pennsylvanian" is still scheduled to operate through to NYC this evening. 

According to AMTRAKstatus report -  7 of the 8 Sunday PHL-HAR round trips are or have operated. Only one (660) NYP PHL section of the ones continuing to NYP cancelled probably due to equipment balancing needs.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, February 7, 2010 7:09 PM

Mon Feb 8th  AMTRAK  operating plan announced.

1. All Accela operating

2. 3 NYP-WAS NEC and 2 WAS-nyp NEC cancelled.

3. All      WAS - Richmond - Newport News/ Raleigh,savannah/ Fla trains cancelled including AutoTrain.

4. Lynchburg trains cancelled ( probably covered by Cresent )

5. Capitol limited cancelled

6. VRE cancelled 

Stated CSX reasons are trees, power lines etc fouling tracks.

7. Piedmont/ Carolinian only operate  CLT - Raleigh - Cresent will operate.

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Posted by jeaton on Sunday, February 7, 2010 11:27 PM

I daughter e-mailed pictures of the 32 inches of snow covering their property in Columbia, MD, about 30 miles north of downtown DC.

The idea of trying to operate passenger trains through a snow of that depth would be foolish, to say the least.  It goes beyond just the idea that passenger would be inconvenienced if trains were to experience long delays or to be stalled.  With highways closed, there would be no way to have any kind of rapid response to a medical emergency.  What could be the result of a serious wreck?  People who ignore the dangers of severe weather conditions put themselves and others to the risk of loss of life and limb.

Further, leaving the lines open make clearing operations proceed at a much faster pace and allow for much faster return to something close to normal operations. 

I lived in suburban Chicago during the winter of 1966-67 when the city was hit by a 30 inch snow storm.  When the storm was over nothing-no cars, buses, trucks, trains or planes- were moving, except for the very rare snowmobile and snow plows.   And, the plows weren't making much progress. The timing of the storm was such that people were caught traveling from work to home and stranded and abandoned vehicles clogged the streets.  As a consequence, it was days before main highways and streets were cleared and side streets were blocked for more than a week.  (In many cases neighbors banded together to clear snow on their residential streets by hand).

By the way, that was back in the days before Amtrak and transit agencies ran intercity and suburban passenger trains.  There were more than a few cancelations. 

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, February 8, 2010 8:23 AM
BNSFwatcher
The "Am-Wimps" strike again!  At the meerest prediction of a snow, or a blow, they shut down!  I remember traveling on the old CNR, and NYC, and even on Amtrak, in BNSF territory, where nothing stopped the train.  A New York Central "Beeliner", bucking snow drifts on the St. Lawrence Division, was an experience, especially when they had to back up and try again!  What has gotten into their psyche?  Too much time in the "District"?  Too many lawyers on board?  "Wimps", I say!!!
Much to the contrary. Amtrak has successfully operated the NEC through every blizzard that has hit the northeast in the past 3 decades. There have been occasions when they've been the only thing still moving. Outside of the NEC, they are at the mercy of the host road. CSX tends to shut down early and often when it snows, but less so in recent years. NS tend to attempt operation always. The Crescent has run every day through the storms this year, for example.

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Monday, February 8, 2010 9:04 AM

jeaton

I lived in suburban Chicago during the winter of 1966-67 when the city was hit by a 30 inch snow storm.  When the storm was over nothing-no cars, buses, trucks, trains or planes- were moving, except for the very rare snowmobile and snow plows.   And, the plows weren't making much progress. The timing of the storm was such that people were caught traveling from work to home and stranded and abandoned vehicles clogged the streets.  As a consequence, it was days before main highways and streets were cleared and side streets were blocked for more than a week.  (In many cases neighbors banded together to clear snow on their residential streets by hand). 

I was staying at my uncle's place during that storm.  The Great Lakes Naval Training Center that my Uncle Sam owns just north of Chicago.

We didn't have any trouble at all.  They just issued a snow shovel to each enlisted person and voilà the streets on the base were cleared.

I have some pictures of it somewhere.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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