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Auto Train Delay / Re-route

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Auto Train Delay / Re-route
Posted by railfanjohn on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 2:57 PM

See attached link:

Passengers stuck on Amtrak train for hours in rural South Carolina (aol.com)

 

https://www.aol.com/news/passengers-stuck-amtrak-train-hours-104749605.html

 

From the article:

"The Amtrak Auto Train was affected by "significant delays" after a CSX freight train derailed in South Carolina, a spokesperson for Amtrak said in a statement early Wednesday morning. The Amtrak train was detoured off its normal route in order to continue operating south, they said."  (emphasis mine)

Does anyone know what the detour route was?

Thanks.

railfanjohn
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 10:54 PM

I have no idea where the CSX derailment was or what the reroute around the derailment was.

Note, once the train departed from its normal route it likely required CSX 'pilots' for both the Conductor and Engineer since the Amtrak crew would likely not be qualified on the new route being taken.  The normal Amtrak crew change location is Florence, SC where the locomotives are fueled.  

From personal experience when I was working, Amtrak is not the easiest of organizations to communicate the need for a recrew account Hours of Service, even where they have a 'surplus' of crews.  I don't think there are a 'surplus' of Amtrak crews Florence and South.  

AutoTrain is a passenger train that normally exceeds 4000 feet in length, when necessary to recrew a train it will be put into a passing siding that can hold the train clear of the Main Track while it is waiting for the recrew to arrive and take charge of the train.  Most passing sidings, by design, are in the middle of nowhere so they won't block road crossings.  Secondly AutoTrain, in addition to its passengers is also carrying the passengers vehicles - the vehicles need special equipment to be unloaded from the railcars.  Putting the passengers and vehicles off the train in the middle of nowhere is not feasible.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, January 12, 2023 1:06 AM

 I have to wonder how much revenue and extra costs is Amtrak loosing ? The situation from Selma to Savannah is a special deal for Amtrak.  Here it has 2 different routes that meet at both ends .  That is a total of 4 round trips a day on those 2 routes.  Why doesn't Amtrak keep all crews qualified on both routes in case of a problem on either.?  Especially all extra board persons ?  Where do "S" line crews change?

Does  special handling  of Auto Train on the "S" line require qualification ?  Also read extra freight locos were neeeded due to the P-40s geared for either 103 or 110 MPH.

Something controversial.  Maybe time for congress to pass legislation for HOS times to be extended when passengers would otherwise be put into peril?.   Certainly airplane pilost do not go HOS if delayed in the air.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Thursday, January 12, 2023 7:03 AM

blue streak 1

 I have to wonder how uch revenue and extra costs is Amtrak loosing ? The situatio from Selma to Savannah i a special deal for Amtrak.  Here it hs 2 different routes that meet at both ends .  That is a total of 4 round trips a day on those 2 routes.  Why doesn't Amtrak keep all crews qualified on both routes in case of a problem on either.?  Especially all extra board persons ?  Where do "S" line crews change?

Does  special handling  of Auto Train on the "S" line require qualification ?  Also read extra freight locos were neeeded due to the P-40s geared for either 103 or 110 MPH.

Something controversial.  Maybe time for congress to pass legislation for HOS times to be extended when passengers would otherwise be put into peril?.   Certainly airplane pilost do not go HOS if delayed in the air.

 

+  In light of some of the 'recent news' of UPrr problems with the Sunset Ltd.  I had, originally, thought this might be another take on their 'problems'?  
 
It seems to have many more details, that the othger lnked storie in this Thread.
FTA:"...Hundreds of Amtrak passengers in South Carolina were stranded on a train for more than a day, prompting several to call the police out of fear they were being held hostage..."
[continues:]  FTA:"...

The autotrain, which allows passengers to travel with their vehicles, was set to arrive in Sanford, Florida, at about 10am on Tuesday. But after a scheduled stop in Lorton, Virginia, at 5.30pm on Monday, it halted in a wooded area in Denmark, South Carolina, an hour outside of Columbia.

After a long wait, the employees “timed out”, meaning they could not legally operate the train, and had to wait for a new crew to arrive. The train had limited food supplies and multiple pets in need of a bathroom break.."
Also: FTA:"...

“For those of you that are calling the police, we are not holding you hostage,” said one conductor in a recorded video of the announcement. “We are giving you all the information which we have. We are sorry about the inconvenience.”

The conductor also reminded passengers not to open their windows to smoke.."  .Whistling

The article also noted: "...The train, which carried 563 passengers and 333 vehicles, finally reached its destination on Wednesday morning..."

I am amazed by how 'incidents' deemed "newsworhty" in the Zzz U.S. media, seem to have much, more detailed information, when reported 'off-shore' ...Sigh     Huh?

 

 

 


 

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Posted by railfanjohn on Thursday, January 12, 2023 5:19 PM
My local news (Columbia, SC) said last night, the CSX freight train derailed near Lake City, SC.
Lake City is on the CSX ‘A’ line (former ACL) south of Florence, SC.  Florence is where the Auto Train stops in the middle of the night for servicing and operating crew change.
Not sure where along its route the Auto Train was when the freight derailment occurred.
 
As stated by blue streak 1; Amtrak operates over two different routes between Selma, NC and Savannah, GA.  The Silver Star turns west at Selma onto the Norfolk Southern (former Southern Railway) line to Raleigh, NC.  At Raleigh it goes onto the CSX ‘S’ line (former SAL) and follows this line (through Hamlet, NC; Camden, SC; Columbia, SC; and Denmark, SC) to Savannah.  The Silver Meteor and Auto Train continue south on the ‘A’ line (through Fayetteville, NC; Dillon, SC; Florence, SC; Kingstree, SC; and Charleston, SC) to Savannah.  If the Auto Train was north of Selma at the time of the derailment / reroute; it could have taken the route of the Silver Star via Raleigh and Columbia.  Another possibility – if Auto Train was south of Selma – it could have detoured at Pembroke, NC onto the CSX line between Hamlet and Wilmington, NC (former SAL) west to Hamlet.  There it could rejoin the ‘S’ line south.  This would have required “pilot crews” as BaltACD mentions.  This is a freight only line.
In “The Guardian” article linked by samfp1943 it mentions the Auto Train being stopped near Denmark, SC.  This is on the CSX ‘S’ line south of Columbia.  This would be nowhere near and not connected in any way with the freight derailment near Lake City.  There must have been something else going on south of Denmark ??? to cause the Auto Train to incur further delays here.
railfanjohn
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Posted by railfanjohn on Friday, January 13, 2023 9:12 PM

https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/slide-threat-cancels-pacific-surfliners-coast-starlight/?_ga=2.149199472.791959670.1673485849-1287788326.1672900754

 

Finally found some answers; buried in this (see attached link) TRAINS Newswire story about Amtrak service disruptions in California due to heavy rains.

railfanjohn
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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, January 14, 2023 9:08 AM

Back in the day - detouring of trains over 'parallell' carriers was routinely done with a minimum of delay.  There were a number of detour options and with easily usable connections and the foreign carriers had extra boards staffed to be able to handle the additional traffic on a moments notice.  In the present day with only six Class 1 carriers and all of them using some form of PSR to govern their manpower detouring is an action fraught with potential for serious delay, no matter if the detour move is passenger or freight.

With six Class 1's there are very few parallell line routings - in the interests of plant rationalization over the past half century, those lines that couldn't turn a profit on each carriers balance sheet were either short lined or abandoned and the track materials sold for scrap.  PSR manpower guidelines only have 'barely sufficient' staffing for the carriers operations TODAY - not for extra business, no matter the source.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, January 14, 2023 10:41 AM

I have to say that I was somewhat amused by some of the sniveling of the passengers on this trip.

"we almost ran out of water".............really and you have the train inventory sheet to know this?

"they were about to run out of food".........yeah also doubtful but they did run out of meals.

"Someone pooped on one of the restroom floors"...........As gross as that is there are other restrooms onboard a Superliner.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, January 14, 2023 12:29 PM

CMStPnP
...

"Someone pooped on one of the restroom floors"...........As gross as that is there are other restrooms onboard a Superliner.

Which says more about the passengers than it does about Amtrak!

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Posted by York1 on Saturday, January 14, 2023 12:54 PM

Don't be too quick to dismiss passenger complaints.

My family and I were stuck on an Amtrak train in the mid-90s because of a derailment.  The train sat in a rural area for nine hours.

Not only did the train run out of food and water, but the entire crew disappeared.  No one replaced them, no one had any answers, no one helped.  No one from Amtrak showed up.  We had an entire train of passengers sitting without anyone from Amtrak (or other railroad personnel or police or ....) helping out. 

A group of angry passengers broke open the cabinets in the dining and snack cars, looking for food.  There wasn't any.

Several tried to climb into the locomotive.  Passengers milled around on the tracks, trying to decide what to do.

My wife and I joined some other parents of small children by basically getting us all into one section of a coach car and standing guard, worried about the increasingly angry (and some drunk) passengers.

Not exactly a fun time.

York1 John       

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, January 14, 2023 3:35 PM

York1
Don't be too quick to dismiss passenger complaints.

My family and I were stuck on an Amtrak train in the mid-90s because of a derailment.  The train sat in a rural area for nine hours.

Not only did the train run out of food and water, but the entire crew disappeared.  No one replaced them, no one had any answers, no one helped.  No one from Amtrak showed up.  We had an entire train of passengers sitting without anyone from Amtrak (or other railroad personnel or police or ....) helping out. 

A group of angry passengers broke open the cabinets in the dining and snack cars, looking for food.  There wasn't any.

Several tried to climb into the locomotive.  Passengers milled around on the tracks, trying to decide what to do.

My wife and I joined some other parents of small children by basically getting us all into one section of a coach car and standing guard, worried about the increasingly angry (and some drunk) passengers.

Not exactly a fun time.

As I have previously said, dealing with Amtrak to recrew their trains in my personal experience on the territories I supervised was not the easiest thing in the world.

In some respects, I can understand not having a Operations Crew on a outlawed train - I cannot understand not having a Onboard Service Crew on the train as they are not covered by any Hours of Service Regulations.

You experienced what you experienced and no one can take that away from you.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, January 14, 2023 11:43 PM

BaltACD

 

 
CMStPnP
...

"Someone pooped on one of the restroom floors"...........As gross as that is there are other restrooms onboard a Superliner.

Which says more about the passengers than it does about Amtrak!

 

Well, being from Wisconsin, I warned Amtrak repeatedly about the ugly green color of their restroom floors.    I knew it was asking for trouble.    I told them again and again that color looks just like the xxxxxx River and your bound to carry folks from the xxxxxx area at some point.DevilBig Smile

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Posted by matthewsaggie on Thursday, February 9, 2023 9:06 PM

Bringing up an older topic, this is from an aquaintance regarding the Star/Meteor/AutoTrain fiasco from several weeks ago. I've had this for a few weeks now but only now getting to it. Sorry.

Here's a synopsis of the rerouting of some Amtrak trains earlier this week; see TV news report, with photos of CSX derailment at very bottom news page.
 

  There were five Amtrak trains involved in "the perfect storm" of events which precipitated from the derailment in Lake City, SC, that tore up a segment of single track on the CSX A-line.  Amtrak trains 52/53 AutoTrains, 97/98 Silver Meteors use the A-line, while 91/92 Silver Stars use the S-line.

On most nights around 9 PM 98, 52, and 92 have cleared Jax and Savannah, with 98 and 52 heading toward Charleston,  to Florence for crew swaps and refueling of (both) AutoTrains.  AutoTrain P053 typically gets to Florence after midnight;  sometimes both are at the station at the same time.   From Central Jct at Savannah P092 peels off on the S-line towards Columbia, Hamlet, and Raleigh.
 
When P098 was well into SC from Savannah word came in that a derailment had occurred some 25 miles south of Florence, two engines on the 
ground, 20 cars derailed/piled up, with significant track damage.  This was caused by hoodlums running from the law in a vehicle, crashing it on the track (and running away) just as a NB CSX freight train was approaching;  the impact with the vehicle somehow caused the derailment to happen.
 
CSX dispatchers called a halt to the Amtrak trains south of Florence, as well as P097 and P053 which were just north of Selma, NC.  CSX and Amtrak officials huddled to come up with a good play to save the day.  They decided to have P098 backup from Yemessee, SC, to Central Jct, and head up the S-line following P092.  P052 would follow them to Columbia.   But things got sticky as the 12-hour time-in-service law ticked down on engineers and conductors, and  the fact that some Amtrak engineers who only run the A-line had not qualified to run the S-line!  So CSX had to come up with qualified and rested engineers to ride as 'pilots' with unqualified Amtrak engineers.  And, of course, they can only work 12 hours before going "on the law." 
At Columbia P092 and P098 were combined into one train with an S-line engineer running it.  Only AutoTrain engineers are qualified to run AutoTrains due to the unique handling requirements of those trains;  they could be more professionally challenged running the S-line than what they're accustomed to on the A-line. Getting rested/qualified engineers (and pilots) to where they were needed and at the right time became a big problem.
 
The combined P092/P098 took the siding at McBee, SC, as P052 took priority to get on up the line.  In the meantime P097 and P053 had eased down to Hamlet, with P053 going further to Wallace, SC,  where he held the siding, awaiting P052. When P052 cleared north Wallace, P053 got green lights until his crew timed out at Denmark, SC.  When P053 cleared McBee the combined P092/098 got green lights all the way to Hamlet.   I don't know for sure, but I expect passengers on P097 were bussed to their final destinations beyond Hamlet.
 
  McBee, SC, is situated on a high ridge in the Carolina Sandhills;  the valley of Black Creek is to the north on mostly tangent track, the valley of Lynches River to the south on curvy track.  All trains have to contend with McBee Hill (ruling grade on the south hill) to get over the Hamlet Sub.  Radio chatter between CSX pilots included joking that P052 was barely able to get up the hill,  that maybe the engines on P092 might have to cut loose and come help pull AutoTrain up the hill!  I paced along beside P053 (I was on US #1)  as he climbed up from Black Creek; the Middendorff DD broadcast said he was down to 12 MPH before reaching easier terrain.   His engineer might have had sphincter moments going down the other side which has some tight curves as well as steep gradients.  Hamlet Sub has mostly 115# jointed rail, with a relatively new signal system.
 
It was a fun day to be out with my little dog watching and listening to railroad chatter on the scanner, and observing first hand "a bad day on the railroad!"  It certainly could have been worse.


 

 

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