Amtrak delays

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Tom Booth

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
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Jul 5, 2019
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309
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Jersey City
Train 6 was 7½ hours late into CHI on Friday, July 15th, missing everything. My next train (59) was next to be available on Monday night. Passengers were put up in Swissotel at $200 a night. Next day, after numerous dead-ends, I contacted Guest Rewards. They were able to get me on the Cardinal of that evening to New Orleans via Charlottesville. First time I ever rode Train 19. We were an hour late into NOL, but a day earlier than if I had waited in Chicago. It let me use a paid for part of my reunion here. No additional points were assessed. [I'm on a borrowed computer so if questions there will be a delay in responding.]
An update on yesterday's eastbound Zephyr that was scheduled to arrive at 2:50 PM. It limped into CUS at a rise and shine 6:02 AM this morning.
 

Michigan Mom

Conductor
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Jan 28, 2012
Messages
1,061
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MI
Speaking of delays... does anyone have any info on what happened to the Wolverine services July 21st (and impacting the 22nd)? What the heck are "signal delays"?
 

AmtrakBlue

Engineer
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14,051
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Delaware
Speaking of delays... does anyone have any info on what happened to the Wolverine services July 21st (and impacting the 22nd)? What the heck are "signal delays"?
Something like when a traffic light goes out or flashes yellow for all traffic. Trains have to proceed with caution.
 

Michigan Mom

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Probably signals were down?
Thanks Cal I got that much... you'll have to forgive my lack of knowledge. While a dedicated rail rider, I'm not in the category of fans who understand many of the elements that go into the rail operating systems. For example, you will never hear me wax eloquent on engines as so many do. My appreciation of the engines extends to if they work. :) Back to those signals. What signals are these exactly? Why would they take 8 hours to repair? How often does this happen?Is there no workaround? 8 hour delay on a corridor train that normally takes 6 hours from end to end is worth trying to understand a little bit more about.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Traffic signal like the one on a street that give you permission to cross a intersection.

Signals down is a very generic terminology. Could be anything, I do believe the Michigan line is dispatch from Chicago so a break in the communication lines is quite possible. It can be as simple as a burnt out lamp. No lamp, must consider it red and stop and call dispatch. With PTC positive train control more computer and communication needs, easier to mess it up.

Why it takes to repair a signal down call 8 hours. Well you have to notice the problem, then call out your repair member(s). Then the MOW forces have to figure out what wrong, and where it when wrong. Then fix the problem, that might need parts, or completely replace something expensive that not found in there truck.

Just thinking here: Digging up a fiber optic line. Car accident that hit a control box and smashed it. Someone fail to pay a bill for a service.

Might do well to email Michigan DOT and ask them. A 8 hour delay on a 6 hour trip is not something we need to expect or accept.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Thanks Cal I got that much... you'll have to forgive my lack of knowledge. While a dedicated rail rider, I'm not in the category of fans who understand many of the elements that go into the rail operating systems. For example, you will never hear me wax eloquent on engines as so many do. My appreciation of the engines extends to if they work. :) Back to those signals. What signals are these exactly? Why would they take 8 hours to repair? How often does this happen?Is there no workaround? 8 hour delay on a corridor train that normally takes 6 hours from end to end is worth trying to understand a little bit more about.
Not long ago on the Northeast Corridor signals went out between Newark, DE and Perryville, MD due to a tree falling down (it was a sunny day) and knocking out a wire. I was maybe 1/2 miles from where the tree went down, though I did not see it happen, but did hear the bang from the wire "breaking" (at least that's what it sounded like to me).
This caused trains south of Wilmington, DE and north of Abington, MD to stop basically where they were and others "stacked up" behind them while the problem was taken care of. It was 1-2 hours, as I recall, before the trains starting moving again....slowly as they were using a slower speed track for both directions to get around the downed tree. Though a bad day for the crews and passengers, it was an interesting day for those of us who happened to be at the Newark, DE station to watch.
 

joelkfla

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AmtrakWPK

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Casselberry, Florida
Something like when a traffic light goes out or flashes yellow for all traffic. Trains have to proceed with caution.
We were on 92 once years ago coming up from Winter Haven, I think, and there were a bunch of wildfires from roughly Lakeland to Kissimmee, and the superheated air from the fires knocked out the microwave links carrying signal information and commands up to CSX JAX. Wherever the signal system loses the command link, all the signals automatically go to a Red, Stop indication. That's by design. At that point, 92 had to stop at each red signal and get authorization from the CSX Dispatcher to proceed past it at 10 MPH, go to the next signal, stop there, and wait for authorization from Dispatch (etc...). It took us a LONG time at 10 MPH to get to Kissimmee, at which point the signals from there north were functioning and we could continue at normal authorized speeds. It wasn't all that bad for us, as the conductor was a friend and it gave us an extended opportunity to catch up on each other's lives.
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2022
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Washougal, Washington
The southbound Coast Starlight spent nine hours in my hometown of Klamath Falls last night. It didn't depart until 7:30 this morning, over nine hours down. The comment on Amtrak Alerts said the delay was due to weather related issues. Can anyone in NorCal elaborate? Train 14 was held at Sacramento for roughly two and a half hours, same reason. Thanks -
 
Joined
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Washougal, Washington
Not sure, but might have something to do with the track being in the proximity of the McKinney Fire which is spreading wildly in Siskiyou County up there.

I thought that might be the reason. When I checked the CalFire map, I found that the McKinney fire is over 20 miles away from the UP mainline that the Starlights use. There don't appear to be any fires near the Shasta Route.
 

jis

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I thought that might be the reason. When I checked the CalFire map, I found that the McKinney fire is over 20 miles away from the UP mainline that the Starlights use. There don't appear to be any fires near the Shasta Route.
I know. It might have been a precautionary thing when it was spreading in its direction and they did not have it in control. At least that is my guess. Once they got the advance controlled they dropped the precautionary blockage. No good by chance finding a passenger train in the middle of an inferno.

But a posting on TO from someone from that area says that there was a washout at Andesite that had to be repaired before trains could move. So scratch my other hypothesis.
 
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Tom Booth

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2019
Messages
309
Location
Jersey City
Train 6 was 7½ hours late into CHI on Friday, July 15th, missing everything. My next train (59) was next to be available on Monday night. Passengers were put up in Swissotel at $200 a night. Next day, after numerous dead-ends, I contacted Guest Rewards. They were able to get me on the Cardinal of that evening to New Orleans via Charlottesville. First time I ever rode Train 19. We were an hour late into NOL, but a day earlier than if I had waited in Chicago. It let me use a paid for part of my reunion here. No additional points were assessed. [I'm on a borrowed computer so if questions there will be a delay in responding.]
Speaking of lateness this summer I've checked the arrival stats into Chicago of trains 4,6, and 8 for the period of 4/26/22 to 8/4/22 - a period of, I think, 100 days. #4 arrived on time ZERO times (0%) during this period. #6 arrived on time 2 times (2%) and #8 came into the Windy City on time a whopping 20 times (20%). Somebody else can check the other LD trains but I don't think they are much better.These arrival stats are beyond awful. Amtrak cannot survive with performances like these. Whether Amtrak, the Surface Transportation Board and/or Congress will mitigate this is a very important question. We can offer our opinions on food, attendants and the like all we want but without a vast improvement in timeliness Amtrak's long distance network will die. That's the number one function of any transport system - to go from point A to point B.
 
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