Hurricane Irma and Amtrak

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gabbygrrl

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Feb 20, 2012
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Let me start by saying that I know nothing is certain for this storm. I am just trying to decide on a back-up plan for a booked flight from Bos to Mia.

IF Irma tracks towards the Carolinas, would Amtrak still operate the Silver Meteor? Or do they cancel service with heavy winds/rain (assuming Irma is off the coast and not making landfall, of course).

Also would we be better iby booking the Star to Florida, since it runs more inland than the Meteor?

If our flight looks like it might get cxld or air travel is going to be a nightmare, we are either going to book the train (we are already booked on the train for our return) or we'll rent a car and drive-talking a long, round about route to avoid the weather as much as palossible.

I'm not panicking, I'm trying to be prepared. Getting knowledge so that I'm ready for whatever Mother Nature brings.

TYIA for your suggestions/help!
 

jis

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If there is a hurricane affected area en route, and the end points are unaffected, then a non stop flight is more likely to fly than any form of ground transport making it through the hurricane affected area.
 

Blackwolf

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My advice is to have multiple back-up contingency plans for any travel to/through/from an area affected by this storm. This includes plans to completely cancel a trip. Me and Mrs. Blackwolf are scheduled to visit New York City with an arrival on 9/12. You better bet I'm watching this sucker pretty darn closely!

If it looks like things are going to get hit, I'm prepared to pull the plug and let my Chase Sapphire card duke it out with Amtrak/Hilton/JetBlue on getting full refunds on all expenses (which they'll do, even for non-refundable fares, in cases such as this.)
 
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Devil's Advocate

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IF Irma tracks towards the Carolinas, would Amtrak still operate the Silver Meteor?
It depends on the severity of the storm verses the strength/weakness of the local infrastructure. Except for the NEC it would be the host freight railroad taking the lead on which trains travel where and when rather than Amtrak.

Or do they cancel service with heavy winds/rain (assuming Irma is off the coast and not making landfall, of course).
Heavy rain or wind alone is unlikely to stop a train completely. However, severe weather can slow trains down and flash flooding can take out bridges and berms and tornadoes can knock trains over.

Also would we be better iby booking the Star to Florida, since it runs more inland than the Meteor?
Switching between the Meteor and the Star is a small deviation relative to the size of a hurricane. Also, hurricanes can create erratic weather patterns that are hard to anticipate. For instance, one year a hurricane was heading straight for Corpus Christi. City and state officials reviewed the anticipated path and strength of the storm and then asked everyone in Corpus to get out of town and head further inland to cities like San Antonio. This decision created massive traffic jams and the cost of hotels and gasoline skyrocketed as unusually scarce resources resulted in extreme pricing levels. Then when the hurricane finally arrived Corpus Christi was spared of any serious damage while San Antonio suffered severe flooding, multiple tornadoes, extended power outages and weather related fires.

I'm not panicking, I'm trying to be prepared. Getting knowledge so that I'm ready for whatever Mother Nature brings.
You may not be panicking but you are asking crystal ball style questions. None of us knows where the storm is going or how strong it will be when it gets there. If you were asking about a blizzard I'd probably put a train above a plane, but in the case of a hurricane it's anyone's guess which form of transit will impacted the most. Just depends on what gets hit and how hard.
 

JayPea

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My advice is to have multiple back-up contingency plans for any travel to/through/from an area affected by this storm. This includes plans to completely cancel a trip. Me and Mrs. Blackwolf are scheduled to visit New York City with an arrival on 9/12. You better bet I'm watching this sucker pretty darn closely!

If it looks like things are going to get hit, I'm prepared to pull the plug and let my Chase Sapphire card duke it out with Amtrak/Hilton/JetBlue on getting full refunds on all expenses (which they'll do, even for non-refundable fares, in cases such as this.)
You and me both when it comes to "watching this sucker pretty darn closely". I am scheduled to fly into BWI from Spokane a week from today, take the Vermonter to St. Albans Monday, a Northeast Regional on Tuesday to Boston,the Downeaster to Portland on Wednesday, and the LSL to Chicago on Thursday. I will meet my uncle in Chicago on Friday, and from there we will take the EB back to Spokane from there. The EB portion is unaffected; if I have to cancel the New England portion there are many ways to get to Chicago from Spokane. There are still rooms available on the CS from Portland to Sacramento and from Sacramento to Chicago on the CZ. And I can always grab a coach seat from Spokane to Portland. If I have to I can do that. I can think of worse plan B's than that one. :)
 

chakk

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The host railroads for Amtrak trains in the southeastern US are more likey to make the call. And CSX seems to me quite likely to block transit through their system in the Carolinas and Florida by ANY train -- including their own freights -- if a hurricane is forecast to make landfall or snuggle close to shore.
 
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John Bobinyec

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It'll be interesting to see how CSX handles its first major hurricane if it hits Jacksonville, Fla. As you may know, CSX has recently moved all of its dispatching back to Jacksonville. They're supposed to be able to run the railroad from alternate locations, but the big question is who would do that if the dispatchers are still stuck in Florida? In such a situation, if the railroad can't be dispatched from a location which is unaffected by the hurricane, then the whole railroad in the eastern United States could be shut down.

jb
 

RPC

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It'll be interesting to see how CSX handles its first major hurricane if it hits Jacksonville, Fla. As you may know, CSX has recently moved all of its dispatching back to Jacksonville. They're supposed to be able to run the railroad from alternate locations, but the big question is who would do that if the dispatchers are still stuck in Florida? In such a situation, if the railroad can't be dispatched from a location which is unaffected by the hurricane, then the whole railroad in the eastern United States could be shut down.

jb
This was one of the reasons CSX dispersed dispatching in the first place - I remember at least one occasion when the Pere Marquette didn't run just because Jacksonville was under water.
 

neroden

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It'll be interesting to see how CSX handles its first major hurricane if it hits Jacksonville, Fla. As you may know, CSX has recently moved all of its dispatching back to Jacksonville. They're supposed to be able to run the railroad from alternate locations, but the big question is who would do that if the dispatchers are still stuck in Florida? In such a situation, if the railroad can't be dispatched from a location which is unaffected by the hurricane, then the whole railroad in the eastern United States could be shut down.

jb
CSX is run by the stupidest man in the railroad business.

If Jacksonville gets shut down by a hurricane on *top* of everything else they've screwed up lately, expect serious talk of nationalizing CSX.
 

pennyk

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From Orlando Sentinel.com 9/4/17: Hurricane Irma forecast to be in Florida on Friday

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/weather/hurricane/os-hurricane-irma-labor-day-20170904-story.html

Hurricane Irma is working its way through the Caribbean today and could reach Florida by Friday, forecasters say.

Meteorologists expect the Category 3 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, to remain a “dangerous major hurricane” through the week and to arrive in South Florida by Friday morning.

Modeling by the National Hurricane Center shows the outer bands of the slow-moving, potentially dangerous storm lashing Key West and Miami by 8 a.m.
 

Lonestar648

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This site (http://spaghettimodels.com/) is the best resource for hurricane information. Many TV stations along the Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Carolinas go to this site to update their databases. Mike operates this non-profit site so anyone can be informed, analyze the data, and make their own predictions.
 

gabbygrrl

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Feb 20, 2012
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Thank you everyone for the valuable information! We have set up a few contingency plans "just in case". I had no idea how Amtrak handled big storms so I appreciate all of the input.

We don't fly until 9/12 so if Miami doesn't get to backed up, we may just be ok.

Fingers crossed for those in South Florida. Hoping they are safe.
 

the_traveler

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If the host railroad (in this case CSX for the southern half of the route) anticipates heavy winds, they may remove the crossing gate arms from their signals, as they could become damaged or flying projectiles. If that is done, Amtrak has no choice but to cancel service.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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If Irma does hit the Miami area, would Amtrak temporarily have the southern most termination be in, say, Orlando? Or would they simply not run the Silvers at all?
Theoretically, the trains could be turned in Orlando or maybe even Tampa. However, the hurricane is unlikely to hit Miami and go right back out over the ocean, so Central Florida is also at risk. It is also unlikely, however, that the entire route would be temporarily cancelled. If service could not continue as far south as Orlando, Jacksonville and Savannah are other possible turnaround points.
Sent from my SM-J327P using Amtrak Forum mobile app
 

John Bobinyec

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Well, the latest forecasts show Irma starting at south Florida and going right up the peninsula. Hope CSX is moving their dispatchers to one of their alternate inland dispatching locations. Anybody know where those are located?

jb
 

Cho Cho Charlie

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If Irma does hit the Miami area, would Amtrak temporarily have the southern most termination be in, say, Orlando? Or would they simply not run the Silvers at all?
Theoretically, the trains could be turned in Orlando or maybe even Tampa. However, the hurricane is unlikely to hit Miami and go right back out over the ocean, so Central Florida is also at risk. It is also unlikely, however, that the entire route would be temporarily cancelled. If service could not continue as far south as Orlando, Jacksonville and Savannah are other possible turnaround points.
Your reply (thanks!) got me to thinking about my true question a bit more deeply. Does the turn-around have to be in Miami? Is it Miami or nothing (not Orlando, not Jacksonville, not Savannah), possibly due to re-supplies and maintenance are only available in Miami? Or can NYP supply/support a Silver with everything needed for a full round trip?
 
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the_traveler

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Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
It really all depends on CSX.

If they say remove dispatch to WAS, they may be cancelled totally. If they remove dispatch south of VA, maybe it will go to RVR. If they remove the crossing arms throughout FL, it may go to Savannah.

In other words, nobody knows right now.
 

Palmetto

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I have never heard of a railroad removing road crossing gates prior to a pending severe storm. They certainly didn't do that prior to Hurricane Harvey. That would've taken weeks.
 
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Palmetto

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Interesting. Then, how long does it take to put them all back? I presume that would be a requirement before returning to normal train operation.
 

Seaboard92

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It doesn't take that long to remove the gates each signal maintainer normally is responsible for about thirty miles of track (at least in SC). So it's a fairly rapid process.
 

Devil's Advocate

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It doesn't take that long to remove the gates each signal maintainer normally is responsible for about thirty miles of track (at least in SC). So it's a fairly rapid process.
Thirty miles is a lot where I live. Enough to included dozens of grade crossings through busy roadways, several of them four lanes wide. With all the rail fans in FL you'd think there would be plenty of videos and articles about this amazing orchestrated shutdown of the CSX system every time a major storm comes near.
 
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