Amtrak service cancellations and restorations (2022)

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jis

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Sorry I disagree with canceling trains just because there a chance of a winter event.
I think this time around it is partly due to Congress getting interested in what happened in Virginia. Better not to have another weekend of trains delayed 30 hours with no food and blocked toilets, so soon. Unintended consequence perhaps, but there is logic to it. Once bitten twice shy.

Of course, to what extent it is a staff issue both in terms of T&E and OBS and in terms of shortage of staff for getting consists ready in time is hard to tell too.
 
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I just looked and it appears that both 19 and 20 have been canceled for January 15th - January 19th (all 5 days)
Generally, the Crescent gets terminated at Atlanta for certain days (weekends?) this time of year for NS "track work". It may be that combined with the shortages that caused Amtrak to dump the route.
 

Zack

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Generally, the Crescent gets terminated at Atlanta for certain days (weekends?) this time of year for NS "track work". It may be that combined with the shortages that caused Amtrak to dump the route.
Wasn't aware of that, thanks for pointing it out. In that case, the route is only canceled for 1/15. I was looking at NYP-NOL which is why it showed canceled for that long.
 

Amtrakfflyer

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So rumors are running rampant today Amtrak will cut all network trains to 5 days a week indefinitely due to covid, staffing, maintenance and or equipment. I’m not seeing it. The vaccine mandate isn’t an issue. They don’t seem to really want to hire aggressively. They claim they don’t have extra coaches or lounges for the network trains but two days ago a gorgeous consist including a SSL went through Galesburg attached to the Zephyr for the Winter Park ski train. They have no issues finding coaches and a lounge to run a recreational/tourist type operation during a pandemic as long as someone else is paying for it? Not to mention the extra crew TDY‘d to Denver to operate it.

Taking managements possible ulterior motives regarding the long distance network off the table and just talking about their response to covid. Amtrak isn’t a mom and pop operation. Upper management of a billion dollar company is paid to navigate the company around whatever external issues arise. There’s always going to be issues, we’ve seen wars, terrorists attacks, recessions, train wrecks/plane crashes, and now a pandemic. Management is paid to rise to the challenge. Has this management done anything besides continually throw in the towel and exacerbate the issues at hand? I honestly see Amtrak’s darkest days ahead unless things change at the top.

 
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jis

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The P32AC-DMs are a small and aged fleet of engines, so this does not surprise me unforunately. The new dual-modes (on order) can't come soon enough.
However, this situation may be due to staff shortage to carry out usual overnight maintenance and inspections. We don't know for sure.
 

jebr

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Sorry I disagree with canceling trains just because there a chance of a winter event.
While in normal times I'd tend to agree, I think they made the right call here:
  • Given recent events, Amtrak probably wants to reduce chances for negative press, especially "shocking" negative press. Them cancelling trains may warrant a paragraph in an overall "winter weather" story, whereas a train stranded for 30 hours becomes the headline of the winter weather story.
  • Amtrak is having lots of issues keeping trains staffed lately. Cancelling the train not only frees up at least some of those crew to work elsewhere (even T&E it allows time to catch up or less crew pulled out of reserve) but also protects against cascading effects from staff timing out, getting out of place, etc. without the necessary reserve to get things back on track quickly.
  • Frankly, Amtrak has a general mess of things right now across much of their network. It's frustrating, but any chance to take a small break on some of that likely will help down the line to make things less bad. Even equipment rotation might be helped somewhat by this.
All of this sucks, but I can't really blame them for their decision to cancel these trains. The entire travel industry has been hanging on by a thread (if that) through the pandemic, and the omicron wave has broken that thread across much of the travel industry. Amtrak's just one agency in a long list of travel companies with staffing issues and large cancellations.
 

neroden

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The Amtrak employee FB page is currently sporting the rumor that a few Empire service trains are being eliminated due to lack of functioning engines and that LD service is going to 5 days a week....Time will tell
Yes, I've heard that rumor too. And I'm glad to hear that they're talking 5-a-week for routes with crew shortages and not 3-a-week. I think my message that 3-a-week was much worse for passengers than 4-a-week (because delaying travel by 2 days to get the next train is much worse than delaying it by one day) may have gotten through management's heads.

If there's an engineer or conductor shortage along the Silver Service, but enough OBS, it makes perfect sense to retain daily trains and make them longer -- uses fewer engineers and conductors and attempts to accomodate as many people as possible.

This is looking like rational adaptation to crew shortages rather than 2020's thoughtless hacking.
 
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They don’t seem to really want to hire aggressively.
How do you know that? I seem to remember a post where it was alleged that they're so short-staffed they don't even have enough HR personnel to process the job applications in a timely manner. And if they're short of operating crew and maintenance technicians, even if they hired all they need yesterday, it takes time to train them to be able to actually do their jobs.

I suppose if I were a member of Congress, I might send GAO over for an investigation of why they got so short-staffed so quickly and whether it's really necessary to have long-term reductions in service. However, between Covid, and the financial uncertainty caused by revenue cratering in 2020 (and probably still not recovered), it might well be that the whole situation is beyond anyone's control. Anyway, if anyone really knows, they're probably not posting it on an enthusiasts' online forum.
 
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Have heard multiple (unverified) claims from inside Amtrak that they have shortages of maintenance and repair people, which they are trying to fill, but it does take time to train people to do that stuff. That means more cars are out of service than should be.
This makes a lot of sense. Even the most highly skilled mechanical technician doesn't get a whole lot of experience repairing Amfleets, Superliners, Acelas, Genesis locomotives, etc. if they're not already working for Amtrak. So after they're hired, they have to be trained. Even after they're trained, it will probably take them a while to get up to speed to work efficiently and correctly. I would think the process could take a couple oof months, at least.
 

jis

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Interesting that the Silver Service is not mentioned. While Amtrak is canceling one of the two trains (the Meteor) , it is apparently planning to run the other train (the Star) essentially as a combined consist of the two trains thus with minimal loss of total capacity if any. The only disruption is for those who depended on arriving earlier into NYP to make onward connections, and for those between Yamassee and Fayetteville trying to travel to Florida, who will now have to change to the Star somewhere, either in Savannah or in Rocky Mount, getting to either connection point by the Palmetto.
 

Zack

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Todd

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Will be interesting to see which 2 days get cut from the long-distance routes.
I agree!

I'm doing the big loop of the country. Empire Builder to Seattle, Coast Starlight to LA, Sunset Limited to New Orleans, and then City of New Orleans back to Chicago in April. I assume Sunset won't be affected because it already is only 3 days a week.

If then cancel one leg based on only 5 days a week; will they allow you to reschedule the same accommodation at the same price? It could be a nightmare as the sleepers are pretty full these days, so those who get bumped those 2 days a week will have a hard time grabbing openings on already full trains the next day. I hope they announce ASAP which days are affected.
 

Zack

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I agree!

I'm doing the big loop of the country. Empire Builder to Seattle, Coast Starlight to LA, Sunset Limited to New Orleans, and then City of New Orleans back to Chicago in April. I assume Sunset won't be affected because it already is only 3 days a week.

If then cancel one leg based on only 5 days a week; will they allow you to reschedule the same accommodation at the same price? It could be a nightmare as the sleepers are pretty full these days, so those who get bumped those 2 days a week will have a hard time grabbing openings on already full trains the next day. I hope they announce ASAP which days are affected.
The agent that I spoke to today in order to rebook my trip because of 98 being canceled said that they would not charge me more if the price was higher than what I paid.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Interesting that the Silver Service is not mentioned. While Amtrak is canceling one of the two trains (the Meteor) , it is apparently planning to run the other train (the Star) essentially as a combined consist of the two trains thus with minimal loss of total capacity if any. The only disruption is for those who depended on arriving earlier into NYP to make onward connections, and for those between Yamassee and Fayetteville trying to travel to Florida, who will now have to change to the Star somewhere, either in Savannah or in Rocky Mount, getting to either connection point by the Palmetto.
The Silvers are mentioned in the email from RPA.
 

Palmland

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This is an excerpt from Trains’ newswire report:


WASHINGTON — Amtrak will reduce Northeast Corridor, long-distance, and state-supported train frequencies between Jan. 24 and March 27, the passenger railroad announced Friday evening, citing “staffing challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the highly active Omicron variant.”

Overall, plans will amount to an 8% reduction in train departures over the 63-day period. That will include 8% of Northeast Regional departures; two weekly departures on nine long-distance routes, which will be reduced to five-day-a-week operation; complete suspension of the Silver Meteor for the 10-week period; and 6% of state-supported regional service. However, the head of one regional operation contacted by Trains News Wire was unaware of the national network cuts or the staffing impacts on that individual’s service.
 

Zack

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Long-distance frequency reductions will start on January 18th according to the New York Times (citing the Amtrak statement), but yet no updated schedules on the website. Still showing daily departures for the long-distance trains. The Silver Meteor is the only schedule to be updated so far.

I wish I knew the days so I could change 49 and 5 for next weekend if needed.
 
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neroden

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Will be interesting to see which 2 days get cut from the long-distance routes. I have 49 on a Saturday (1/22) and 5 on a Sunday (1/23) booked currently so I'm hoping I don't have to rebook again once those schedules get updated. The article says the cuts to NE Regionals start January 24th, hope it's the same with LD.
I mean, it won't be the same days of the week at every station, because it takes two nights and three days for several of the LD trains to take a single trip. So whichever days you choose for departure from Chicago on the California Zephyr, departures from Denver heading west are off by one day.

But to the extent that it's possible to pick the days (for example, departures from NY to Chicago and back), I would hope they would go with with Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Wednesday departures. Never more than two days to the next departure, and departs on the four most popular travel days (Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon).
 

ZiaReba

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I just read an article on Trains.com that said a number of routes are going to change - or be cancelled entirely - through the end of March. I am scheduled to depart of the Southwest Chief on March 10 to connect to the Capitol Limited and then the Silver Meteor to get to Fort Lauderdale for a cruise. Yuk. Should I just wait to hear from Amtrak or should I take the initiative and see what alternatives I may have?
 

daybeers

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I just read an article on Trains.com that said a number of routes are going to change - or be cancelled entirely - through the end of March. I am scheduled to depart of the Southwest Chief on March 10 to connect to the Capitol Limited and then the Silver Meteor to get to Fort Lauderdale for a cruise. Yuk. Should I just wait to hear from Amtrak or should I take the initiative and see what alternatives I may have?
I would wait for the days the trains will run to be announced, and then take the initiative. Anything before and they might say "I don't see it in my system" or "that'll cost you an extra $$$". Usually they reschedule and/or contact in chronological order. Prepare for long waits on the phone, or you could go in person to a station.
 
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