Category Archives: Amtrak

1 dead in W. Virginia train collision, no serious injuries to members of Congress

A train carrying Republican members of Congress to a legislative retreat collided with a vehicle in western Virginia Wednesday morning.

The train crashed in Crozet, Virginia, about 15 miles west of Charlottesville.

The crash involved an Amtrak train carrying legislators who were traveling to The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. The train appeared to collide with a truck transporting garbage.

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WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR A SMOOTHER, MORE SATISFYING AMTRAK RIDE?

Special Guest Post From Marlin R. Taylor

My friend Mike and I – both train lovers – were chatting a couple of days back, talking about how great it would be to see the rail passenger’s “customer satisfaction” level improve in this coming year. In other words, what would it take to create a more satisfying Amtrak ride?

In letting you in on what this likely would require, we thought it best for you to read it from the perspective of an Amtrak P42 diesel locomotive we happen to know. He’s very friendly, loves hauling passengers on many different routes around the country and would love to see his railroad provide better service to its customers, those who love and need to travel by train, in the days ahead.

Here’s the “wish list” he shared with us:

  1. That the freight railroad owners would begin caring enough for the people of America to clear the tracks for my train to arrive on schedule.
  2. That my fellow locos and me receive better maintenance and loving care so that we experience fewer breakdowns, also helping us arrive on time. 
  3. When Amtrak replaces the Acela train sets, the new ones are designed to operate safely in severe snow and cold temperatures.
  4. That CSX would replace the bad track in the Carolinas so that my Florida-bound train passengers would have a smoother ride and not feel like they are on an antique roller coaster.
  5. That Amtrak acquire new single level coaches designed so the vestibules do not fill up with snow during storms, causing slippery and extremely unsafe conditions for passengers getting on and off the train or going from car to car.

What do you think it would take to create a more satisfying Amtrak ride?

Any thoughts or opinions?  Share your thoughts below…

 

New London rail bridge stuck, five Amtrak trains delayed

The Day

Extreme cold weather is being blamed for a stuck Amtrak bridge in New London that caused delays Thursday night for at least five  trains.

The Shaw’s Cove Bridge would not close and, as of 10 p.m., caused delays for Amtrak trains 179, with its 192 passengers; 94, with 293 on board; 2172, with 73 on board; 178, with 289 on board, and 67, with 135 on board. Some Shoreline East trains also were affected.

Amtrak engineers were working to close the bridge as quickly as possible so that service could resume, Amtrak spokeswoman Beth K. Toll said in an email earlier in the evening.

Before service was restored about 11 p.m., stuck passengers were venting their frustration on social media.

“Amtrak northeast regional train #94 is delayed in New London with no est time to resume,” Twitter user Sandra Mehlmann wrote in a tweet.

On the same train, Arielle Smith, 32, of Manhattan said she was comfortable, despite the temperature hovering around 9 degrees outside, but bored.

Amtrak’s official Twitter account urged them to call the company’s customer service after their trip.

Smith said she was on her way to Boston to visit family for the long holiday weekend when the train stopped about 8:20 p.m., and she and her fellow passengers had been sitting for nearly two hours waiting for the bridge issue to be resolved. She said the trip from Penn Station in New York City to South Station in Boston, which she has made many times, usually takes about four and a half hours to make by train. She was scheduled to arrive at the Route 128 station in Boston at 9:50 p.m.

About 10:30 p.m., she was still waiting for the train to get moving again in New London. “We are still an hour and a half away from my stop, at least,” she said.

Rail staff were keeping the passengers informed of the situation, she said, and they had handed out snacks and bottled water. “The WiFi is working. Bathrooms are working. Everyone is friendly,” she added.

Things were not much better for those who were awaiting passengers scheduled to disembark and those hoping to catch a train in New London.

All but three people were left at Union Station in New London at 10 p.m. because of the protracted delays. The 7:38 p.m. Shoreline East train had yet to leave the station.

Most people had left, opting to buy a ticket for another day or finding an alternate means of transportation, said Rachel MacLellan, who was still waiting for her 8:24 p.m. train to Boston.

“I have to work in the morning,” she said.

MacLellan waited with her mother, Lorraine MacLellan of Niantic, and were keeping tabs on the phone updates from Amtrak that did not appear to be accurate. At 9 p.m. she received a text that the estimated time of arrival was 9:06 p.m.

The two planned to stick it out, hoping that the Amtrak attendant did not kick them out of the station at 10 p.m. An unidentified Amtrak employee, who declined comment, could be seen locking the doors but made no movement to order the trio out.

About 10:56 p.m., Toll sent an email saying the bridge had been closed and locked. “There may still be some residual delays as the trains get moving again,” she said.

At 11 p.m., Smith sent a jubilant text from her train to The Day, “Second train just passed. And we are moving!”

25 Tips When Traveling by Train for Business

Smal Biz Trends from California Rail News

Research the Available Routes

Amtrak has more than 30 train routes that go to and from various locations in the U.S. And in some cases, there may be more than one way for you to get to a particular location, though some are more direct than others. So take a look at the schedule and routes well before you need to actually travel so you can make the best decision.

Look for Deals Online

You can also purchase tickets directly online, as well as by phone and at Amtrak stations. But if you buy online, you can sometimes get access to better deals than you would otherwise. So try to plan ahead and compare prices online.

Buy Separate Tickets for Stop-Offs

Depending on your plans, you might want to take a train to one location, stop for a day or so, then take a train to another location from there. This is absolutely possible. But you do need to buy separate tickets so you can be sure your entire trip is covered.

Use Business Class Lounges

Some train stations offer business class lounges where priority customers can relax and access wifi and comfortable working space. So if you arrive for your trip a bit early, take advantage of those spaces to get some work done while you wait.

Anticipate Delays

While traveling by train can be comfortable and cost effective, it’s not the quickest mode of transportation. And even the scheduled arrival times don’t always come to pass. So don’t schedule a trip if it leaves you arriving just an hour before a bit meeting. It’s best to arrive a little earlier just to be safe.

Get a Rail Pass for Frequent Travel

Amtrak offers a rail pass that can help you save money if you travel frequently. So if you plan on taking trains for business trips multiple times per year, it’s worth looking into as a cost saving measure.

Use Points to Purchase Tickets

You can also sign up for Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program that can help you earn points that you can redeem for future travels. So if you travel by train regularly, it can be worth it to sign up for an account and then use your points for future purchases.

Save Time With Mobile Ticketing

Amtrak also offers mobile apps for Apple, Android and Amazon devices. So you can download the app and use it to purchase and show your tickets. This can help you streamline the entire booking and boarding process.

Be Flexible With Seating Assignments

When you book a trip, you can get your confirmation right away. But Amtrak normally assigns seats once each train is booked before assigning seats. So if you plan on traveling by train, it’s best to be a little flexible about where you sit.

Book Together if Traveling With Colleagues

If you are traveling with others, that means you should book your tickets together so you can ensure you actually get seated together.

Reserve Coach for Economical Travel

There are a few different options when traveling by train. Coach is the most popular and economical option. If you’re taking a relatively short trip and want to save money, this is probably the best option.

Upgrade to Business Class for Meetings, Working Space

However, there is also a business class option. If you want a bit more room and want to be sure you get access to a full desktop and outlets, you can opt for a business class seat instead.

Consider Roomettes When Traveling Overnight

If you’re taking a lengthier trip where you’ll be traveling overnight, you can certainly stick with a coach seat. But if you’re looking for something a little more roomy, you can opt for a roomette. However, most roomettes are made for two. So it’s mainly an option for those traveling with their significant others.

Get a Bedroom for More Comfort

Or you could opt for a private bedroom for even more space and privacy. This option is best if you’re looking for a really comfortable experience when traveling across the country.

Take Advantage of Onboard Wifi

Most trains to offer complimentary wifi on board. So if you’re just looking to browse the internet or send emails when you travel, you can take advantage of that feature.

Use a Hotspot for High Bandwidth Functions

However, the onboard wifi doesn’t include high bandwidth functions like music streaming. So if you need to do anything that requires a stronger connection, it could be worth investing in a personal hotspot.

Remember Your Chargers

Most seats, especially those in business class, also have access to electrical outlets. And there are some in common areas as well. So remember to bring chargers for all your devices so you can stay powered up while you travel.

Check Large Bags

If you’re taking a long trip, you’ll probably bring a decent sized bag, which you can check so that it won’t take up all the space in your seating area.

Keep Essentials With You

However, you can bring a small bag with your most important items like your laptop and any important documents you might need to reference if you’re working while you travel.

Book a Table for Meals

In the food car, you can book a table to ensure that you have seating reserved for all meals. If you’re traveling with others, you can sit at a private table. Or you can allow the staff to sit you with others on board so you can socialize.

Hang Out in the Bar Car

There’s also a bar car on most trains that offers comfortable seating and refreshments to help make your trip more enjoyable.

Head to the Quiet Car to Work

Or if you’re looking to really focus and get some work done in transit, check to see if your train has a quiet car where you can go to work without having to worry about loud distractions around you.

Prepare for Varied Temperatures

No matter where you’re traveling, it’s a good idea to pack some layers in your carry-on bag so you can be prepared for any temperature, since train cars don’t necessarily go along with the outside temperatures.

Take Breaks at Rest Stops

As your train makes its way to your destination, it’s going to make several stops. But not all of them are actually rest stops. Some are just stops where the train is picking up more passengers and then immediately departing. So check the schedule so you can know where it’s safe to get off and stretch your legs a bit.

Map the Trip from Station to Hotel

Many train stations are located in downtown areas. So you can potentially make it to your hotel or meeting spot quickly. But it’s still a good idea to map it out before you get there so you know if it’s possible to walk or if you need a taxi or public transportation.

NJ Transit service changes after train gets stuck in tunnel near Penn Station

From AM New York (via California Rail News)

Northeast Corridor train #3850 from Trenton came to a stop in the south tube of the Hudson Tunnel around 3:30 p.m., NJ Transit and Amtrak officials said. Amtrak said the passenger count was 400, but a NJ Transit spokeswoman disputed that number.
Brian Scheckner, who claimed to be on the disabled train, said he and fellow passengers were stuck for nearly three hours. Without power for air conditioning, the temperature had steadily risen and passengers got antsy, he said…
Amtrak, which is responsible for the maintenance of the tracks and equipment in and around Penn Station, said the train was disabled due to an overhead power problem.

 

Cities Embrace “Transit Hubs” To Boost Business, Jobs

Curbed Feb 27, 2017

Are transit hubs the new malls? Several major nerve centers of U.S. transportation—like Union Station in Washington, D.C., and Penn Station in New York City—are planning major overhauls that would transform them from pass-through structures into glittering corridors of restaurants, retail, and event spaces. Meanwhile, expanding local rail systems around the country are also sparking the development of new transit hubs, trying to take advantage of built-in foot traffic to boost business and job markets.

“[Transit hubs are] a way to [achieve] balance and attract people during off hours and use the structures that exist, which are an attraction in themselves,” real estate attorney B.A. Spignardo of Shapiro Lifschitz & Schram in Washington, DC tells Construction Dive.
The Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus hub in lower Manhattan is a prime example of this next-gen transit center trend. The striking architecture just might entice travelers to stick around and peruse its 75,000 square feet of retail—unlike the cramped, underground labyrinth of Penn Station. But Penn Station has its own ambitious renovation in the works, including the integration of the more architecturally impressive Farley Post Office along with 112,000 square feet of retail.

Hoosier State Train Dies But AMTRAK Adds “Amenties” To Replacement

February 28 was the last day of service for Iowa Pacific Holdings on the Hoosier State train. Beginning March 1, Amtrak takes over full operation of the line.

For many, the appeal of the Hoosier State train is the amenities it offers. Although the cars now will be Amtrak’s equipment, the company plans to retain many of the amenities Iowa Pacific provided.

The train will have a cafe car with public and private dining options. Food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages, may be purchased in the cafe car. The train will also be equipped with wifi.

Amtrak will continue to offer business class seating in a private, curtained car. This includes large, leather seats with extensive legroom, as well as complimentary tea and coffee.

Three cars in all will be utilized for the service, two coach cars with 68 seats each and a combination business class car with 14 seats, and the cafe car. The dome car, a windowed observation car owned by Amtrak, also will be on loan to the line for March.

“This is similar to the St.Louis-Kansas City service we operate under contract with the Missouri Department of Transportation,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.

For March, Amtrak is offering a special promotion for riders. Tickets will be buy one, get one free.

Lafayette-to-Chicago ticket prices range from $17 to $30. There will be no change in the train’s schedule.