Potential Detours

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Seaboard92

Engineer
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,391
Location
South Carolina
The other day when I saw there was a avalanche on the HiLine I thought about what detours were available so I decided to to make a list of all the potential detours in the country. I'll try to add the distances when I figure them out at a later time.

California Zephyr

Chicago-Omaha via the EX Chicago & Northwestern
Host: Union Pacific
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Mississippi River Crossing at Clinton, IA
Fun Facts: A UP Engine with Cab Signals has to lead the train in CNW Territory for Cab Signals.
How Often: Usually in the early spring during the floods in the midwest

Denver-Salt Lake City
Host: Union Pacific
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Wyoming, Ruby Canyon
Fun Facts: The Only Time you can ride Amtrak in the state of Wyoming.
How Often: During Maintenance blitzes on the Moffet Line

Winnemucca-Sacramento
Host: Union Pacific
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Feather River Canyon
Fun Facts: The Original Route of the California Zephyr
How Often: Very rare. It has been done but not often

Capitol Limited/Lake Shore Limited

Chicago-South Bend Via CN
Host: Canadian National
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: The original route of the International Limited
How Often: Very Rare. It has happened once this year in 2021 when a freight derailment blocked the NS Chicago Line.

Chicago-Cleveland via the EX B&O
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Urban Indiana, and Indiana and Ohio Farmland.
Fun Facts: EX Baltimore & Ohio to Greenwich, OH and EX New York Central to Cleveland, OH
How Often: It has happened once in the last five years.

Chicago-Toledo via Detroit
Host: Norfolk Southern and Amtrak
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Lake Erie between Toledo and Detroit
Fun Facts: All EX New York Central Right of Ways
How Often: It has happened more frequently than the other detours mentioned but nothing planned out far in advance.

Capitol Limited (Exclusive Routes)

Pittsburgh-Cleveland via Youngstown
Host: CSX Pittsburgh-Youngstown, NS Youngstown-Ashtabula, CSX Ashtabula-Cleveland
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Lake Erie between Ashtabula and Cleveland
Fun Facts: Passenger trains haven't been scheduled between Youngstown and Ashtabula since the 1950s.
How Often: I don't think this has been operated before.

Pittsburgh-Chicago via the EX B&O
Host: CSX
Distance
Scenic Highlights: Northern Indiana and farmland of Ohio and Indiana
Fun Facts: Amtrak operated this in the mid 2000s.
How Often: Very rare never planned if it is ran.

Lake Shore Limited

Cleveland-Buffalo via the Nickel Plate Road
Host: NS
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: You can see the parallel Water Level Route the whole way.
Fun Facts: Hasn't had passenger service since the 1960s
How Often: Very rare, never planned if it is ran.

Cardinal

Kenova, KY (Huntington, WV)-Charlottesville via N&W
Host: NS
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Appalachia, New River Valley in Virginia.
Fun Facts: Route of the Powhattan Arrow
How Often: I don't think I've ever heard of this but it is a doable detour.

City of New Orleans

Jackson-Meridian-New Orleans
Host: KCS Jackson-Meridian, NS Meridian-New Orleans
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: The Kansas City Southern Speedway
How Often: Usually bus substituted however I have heard of it once or twice before

Coast Starlight

Los Angeles-Oakland via Tehachapi Loop
Host: Metrolink Los Angeles-Lancaster, UP Lancaster-Oakland
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Altamont Pass, Tehachapi Loop, Central Valley, the Mojave Desert
Fun Facts: Instead of running the San Joachim Route on BNSF it runs on the EX Southern Pacific the whole length of the valley.
How Often: Usually once or twice a year. Usually planned in advance.

Davis-Los Molinos
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: The original route of the SP Cascade
How Often: Very rare

Sacramento-Klamath Falls
Host UP Sacramento-Keddie, BNSF Keddie-Klamath Falls
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Feather River Canyon, Keddie Wye, Inside Gateway
Fun Facts: The fartherest south the Great Northern ever built was Keddie.
How Often: Very rare, I think it's been done once though.

Klamath Falls-Portland via Bend
Host: UP/BNSF: BNSF Klamath Falls-Columbia River Gorge, UP Columbia River Gorge-Portland
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Deutsches River Valley, Columbia River Gorge, Multnonah Falls
Fun Facts: Amtrak sent their office cars this way when the Starlight route was blocked and they canceled the Starlight.
How Often: It's been done but very rare. Normally due to a blockage on the normal route.

Portland-Vancouver via Albina Yard
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Albina Yard, North Portland
Fun Facts: The route of the UP Pool Train into Portland from Seattle
How Often: I don't think it's been done.

Olympia-Tacoma once the Bypass opens
Host: BNSF
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Tacoma Narrows, Point Defiance
Fun Facts: Still in use as an Amtrak route
How Often: Remains to be seen how often

Tacoma-Seattle
Host: UP
Distance
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Originally the Milwaukee Road
How Often: I haven't heard of it but it is possible.

Crescent

Alexandria-Danville
Host: CSX Alexandria-Richmond, NS Richmond-Danville
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Rare Milage on one of the original Southern Railway Lines
Fun Facts: Originally the Richmond and Danville
How Often: The Auto Train did this once.

Alexandria-Greensboro
Host: CSX Alexandria-Selma, NS Selma-Greensboro
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Richmond, and Raleigh skylines
Fun Facts: Part of the Amtrak Network
How Often: Never seen it happen.

Charlotte-Atlanta via Monroe
Host: CSX
Distance
Scenic Highlights: SC Upstate, Athens, GA
Fun Facts: Route of the Silver Comet
How Often: It has been done a few times in 2013.

There are some routes between Atlanta and New Orleans but they don't do that on the yearly maintenance blitzes so I'm not listing them.

Empire Builder

Chicago-Milwaukee via C&NW
Host: UP
Distance
Scenic Highlights: Lake Michigan
Fun Facts: Route of the 400
How Often: I don't recall seeing it but it is doable.

Chicago-St. Paul via CB&Q
Host: BNSF
Distance
Scenic Highlights: Mississippi Valley for 300 miles.
Fun Facts: The original Empire Builder Route
How Often: Usually in the spring when the normal route is flooded.

St. Paul-Fargo
Host: BNSF
Distance: 262 Miles
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Original Route of the Empire Builder
How Often: Usually in the spring when the normal route floods.

Fargo-Sandpoint
Host: BNSF/ Montana Rail Link
Distance: 1,175
Scenic Highlights: Central Montana
Fun Facts: Route of the Mainstreeter and North Coast Limited
How Often: It's never been done.

Spokane-Seattle
Host: BNSF
Distance: 396
Scenic Highlights: Stampede Pass
How Often: I don't think it's been done.

Spokane-Portland via UP
Host: UP
Distance: 400 or so Miles
Scenic Highlights: Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge
Fun Facts: Route of the City of Hinkle
How Often: I don't think it's been done.

Wolverine/Blue Water

Chicago-Battle Creek
Host: CN
Distance: 170 Miles
Scenic Highlights: Northern Indiana, South Bend
Fun Facts: Original routing of the International Limited
How Often: Once in the last year during a NS Derailment I believe

Silver Star/Silver Meteor/Auto Train

Richmond-Columbia via Charlotte
Host: NS
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Charlotte skyline
Fun Facts: Runs on SC's Fall Line.
How Often: The Auto Train has used part of it once.

Charleston-Dillon
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Low Country SC
Fun Facts: Originally the Seaboard Airline
How Often: It might have been done once or twice this decade.

Dillon-Hamlet
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Originally the Seaboard Airline
How Often: It can occur whenever the A line is messed up between Dillon and Selma, or the S line is messed up between Hamlet and Savannah.

The Other route between Savannah-Selma has happened a few times with a SM Taking the S line or the SS taking the A Line

Jessup-Jacksonville via Waycross
Host: CSX
Distance
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Original Atlantic Coastline
How Often: It happens occasionally when the Nahunta Cutoff is closed.

Jacksonville-Auburndale
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Central Florida
Fun Facts: Original Seaboard Airline
How Often: The Auto Train did it this year. Occasionally happens but never planned.

Southwest Chief/California Zephyr
Chicago-Galesburg via ATSF
Distance:
Scenic highlights:
Fun Facts: Original Santa Fe
How Often: Very Rare

Southwest Chief

Galesburg-Kansas City
Host: BNSF
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Quincy, IL
Fun Facts: Route of the American Royal Zephyr
How Often: Very Rare

Kansas City-Topeka
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic highlights:
Fun Facts: Route of the City of St. Louis
How Often: Usually in the spring during midwestern floods.

Kansas City-Albuquerque
Host: BNSF
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Texas Panhandle
Fun Facts: The Southern Transcon
How Often: It has Happened a few times.

Texas Eagle
Chicago-St. Louis via C&EI
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Eastern Illinois
Fun Facts: Route of the L&N Chicago Trains
How Often: Track Work on the Lincoln Corridor or derailments. Was operated in 2021.

St. Louis-Poplar Bluff via SSW
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic highlights: Illinois bank of the Mississippi
Fun Facts: Lost passenger service in the 1950s
How Often: In the spring when the regular route is flooded.

Longview-Taylor
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Texas
Fun Facts: Original route of the Texas Eagle
How Often: It has happened recently in 2017

Dallas-Ft. Worth
Host: UP
Distance
Scenic Highlights: The Metroplex
Fun Facts: Route of the Amtrak Texas Eagle till recently.
How Often: Very rare.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
23,658
Location
Austin Texas
The other day when I saw there was a avalanche on the HiLine I thought about what detours were available so I decided to to make a list of all the potential detours in the country. I'll try to add the distances when I figure them out at a later time.

California Zephyr

Chicago-Omaha via the EX Chicago & Northwestern
Host: Union Pacific
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Mississippi River Crossing at Clinton, IA
Fun Facts: A UP Engine with Cab Signals has to lead the train in CNW Territory for Cab Signals.
How Often: Usually in the early spring during the floods in the midwest

Denver-Salt Lake City
Host: Union Pacific
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Wyoming, Ruby Canyon
Fun Facts: The Only Time you can ride Amtrak in the state of Wyoming.
How Often: During Maintenance blitzes on the Moffet Line

Winnemucca-Sacramento
Host: Union Pacific
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Feather River Canyon
Fun Facts: The Original Route of the California Zephyr
How Often: Very rare. It has been done but not often

Capitol Limited/Lake Shore Limited

Chicago-South Bend Via CN
Host: Canadian National
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: The original route of the International Limited
How Often: Very Rare. It has happened once this year in 2021 when a freight derailment blocked the NS Chicago Line.

Chicago-Cleveland via the EX B&O
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Urban Indiana, and Indiana and Ohio Farmland.
Fun Facts: EX Baltimore & Ohio to Greenwich, OH and EX New York Central to Cleveland, OH
How Often: It has happened once in the last five years.

Chicago-Toledo via Detroit
Host: Norfolk Southern and Amtrak
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Lake Erie between Toledo and Detroit
Fun Facts: All EX New York Central Right of Ways
How Often: It has happened more frequently than the other detours mentioned but nothing planned out far in advance.

Capitol Limited (Exclusive Routes)

Pittsburgh-Cleveland via Youngstown
Host: CSX Pittsburgh-Youngstown, NS Youngstown-Ashtabula, CSX Ashtabula-Cleveland
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Lake Erie between Ashtabula and Cleveland
Fun Facts: Passenger trains haven't been scheduled between Youngstown and Ashtabula since the 1950s.
How Often: I don't think this has been operated before.

Pittsburgh-Chicago via the EX B&O
Host: CSX
Distance
Scenic Highlights: Northern Indiana and farmland of Ohio and Indiana
Fun Facts: Amtrak operated this in the mid 2000s.
How Often: Very rare never planned if it is ran.

Lake Shore Limited

Cleveland-Buffalo via the Nickel Plate Road
Host: NS
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: You can see the parallel Water Level Route the whole way.
Fun Facts: Hasn't had passenger service since the 1960s
How Often: Very rare, never planned if it is ran.

Cardinal

Kenova, KY (Huntington, WV)-Charlottesville via N&W
Host: NS
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Appalachia, New River Valley in Virginia.
Fun Facts: Route of the Powhattan Arrow
How Often: I don't think I've ever heard of this but it is a doable detour.

City of New Orleans

Jackson-Meridian-New Orleans
Host: KCS Jackson-Meridian, NS Meridian-New Orleans
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: The Kansas City Southern Speedway
How Often: Usually bus substituted however I have heard of it once or twice before

Coast Starlight

Los Angeles-Oakland via Tehachapi Loop
Host: Metrolink Los Angeles-Lancaster, UP Lancaster-Oakland
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Altamont Pass, Tehachapi Loop, Central Valley, the Mojave Desert
Fun Facts: Instead of running the San Joachim Route on BNSF it runs on the EX Southern Pacific the whole length of the valley.
How Often: Usually once or twice a year. Usually planned in advance.

Davis-Los Molinos
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: The original route of the SP Cascade
How Often: Very rare

Sacramento-Klamath Falls
Host UP Sacramento-Keddie, BNSF Keddie-Klamath Falls
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Feather River Canyon, Keddie Wye, Inside Gateway
Fun Facts: The fartherest south the Great Northern ever built was Keddie.
How Often: Very rare, I think it's been done once though.

Klamath Falls-Portland via Bend
Host: UP/BNSF: BNSF Klamath Falls-Columbia River Gorge, UP Columbia River Gorge-Portland
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Deutsches River Valley, Columbia River Gorge, Multnonah Falls
Fun Facts: Amtrak sent their office cars this way when the Starlight route was blocked and they canceled the Starlight.
How Often: It's been done but very rare. Normally due to a blockage on the normal route.

Portland-Vancouver via Albina Yard
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Albina Yard, North Portland
Fun Facts: The route of the UP Pool Train into Portland from Seattle
How Often: I don't think it's been done.

Olympia-Tacoma once the Bypass opens
Host: BNSF
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Tacoma Narrows, Point Defiance
Fun Facts: Still in use as an Amtrak route
How Often: Remains to be seen how often

Tacoma-Seattle
Host: UP
Distance
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Originally the Milwaukee Road
How Often: I haven't heard of it but it is possible.

Crescent

Alexandria-Danville
Host: CSX Alexandria-Richmond, NS Richmond-Danville
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Rare Milage on one of the original Southern Railway Lines
Fun Facts: Originally the Richmond and Danville
How Often: The Auto Train did this once.

Alexandria-Greensboro
Host: CSX Alexandria-Selma, NS Selma-Greensboro
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Richmond, and Raleigh skylines
Fun Facts: Part of the Amtrak Network
How Often: Never seen it happen.

Charlotte-Atlanta via Monroe
Host: CSX
Distance
Scenic Highlights: SC Upstate, Athens, GA
Fun Facts: Route of the Silver Comet
How Often: It has been done a few times in 2013.

There are some routes between Atlanta and New Orleans but they don't do that on the yearly maintenance blitzes so I'm not listing them.

Empire Builder

Chicago-Milwaukee via C&NW
Host: UP
Distance
Scenic Highlights: Lake Michigan
Fun Facts: Route of the 400
How Often: I don't recall seeing it but it is doable.

Chicago-St. Paul via CB&Q
Host: BNSF
Distance
Scenic Highlights: Mississippi Valley for 300 miles.
Fun Facts: The original Empire Builder Route
How Often: Usually in the spring when the normal route is flooded.

St. Paul-Fargo
Host: BNSF
Distance: 262 Miles
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Original Route of the Empire Builder
How Often: Usually in the spring when the normal route floods.

Fargo-Sandpoint
Host: BNSF/ Montana Rail Link
Distance: 1,175
Scenic Highlights: Central Montana
Fun Facts: Route of the Mainstreeter and North Coast Limited
How Often: It's never been done.

Spokane-Seattle
Host: BNSF
Distance: 396
Scenic Highlights: Stampede Pass
How Often: I don't think it's been done.

Spokane-Portland via UP
Host: UP
Distance: 400 or so Miles
Scenic Highlights: Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge
Fun Facts: Route of the City of Hinkle
How Often: I don't think it's been done.

Wolverine/Blue Water

Chicago-Battle Creek
Host: CN
Distance: 170 Miles
Scenic Highlights: Northern Indiana, South Bend
Fun Facts: Original routing of the International Limited
How Often: Once in the last year during a NS Derailment I believe

Silver Star/Silver Meteor/Auto Train

Richmond-Columbia via Charlotte
Host: NS
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Charlotte skyline
Fun Facts: Runs on SC's Fall Line.
How Often: The Auto Train has used part of it once.

Charleston-Dillon
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Low Country SC
Fun Facts: Originally the Seaboard Airline
How Often: It might have been done once or twice this decade.

Dillon-Hamlet
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Originally the Seaboard Airline
How Often: It can occur whenever the A line is messed up between Dillon and Selma, or the S line is messed up between Hamlet and Savannah.

The Other route between Savannah-Selma has happened a few times with a SM Taking the S line or the SS taking the A Line

Jessup-Jacksonville via Waycross
Host: CSX
Distance
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Original Atlantic Coastline
How Often: It happens occasionally when the Nahunta Cutoff is closed.

Jacksonville-Auburndale
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Central Florida
Fun Facts: Original Seaboard Airline
How Often: The Auto Train did it this year. Occasionally happens but never planned.

Southwest Chief/California Zephyr
Chicago-Galesburg via ATSF
Distance:
Scenic highlights:
Fun Facts: Original Santa Fe
How Often: Very Rare

Southwest Chief

Galesburg-Kansas City
Host: BNSF
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Quincy, IL
Fun Facts: Route of the American Royal Zephyr
How Often: Very Rare

Kansas City-Topeka
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic highlights:
Fun Facts: Route of the City of St. Louis
How Often: Usually in the spring during midwestern floods.

Kansas City-Albuquerque
Host: BNSF
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Texas Panhandle
Fun Facts: The Southern Transcon
How Often: It has Happened a few times.

Texas Eagle
Chicago-St. Louis via C&EI
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Eastern Illinois
Fun Facts: Route of the L&N Chicago Trains
How Often: Track Work on the Lincoln Corridor or derailments. Was operated in 2021.

St. Louis-Poplar Bluff via SSW
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic highlights: Illinois bank of the Mississippi
Fun Facts: Lost passenger service in the 1950s
How Often: In the spring when the regular route is flooded.

Longview-Taylor
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Texas
Fun Facts: Original route of the Texas Eagle
How Often: It has happened recently in 2017

Dallas-Ft. Worth
Host: UP
Distance
Scenic Highlights: The Metroplex
Fun Facts: Route of the Amtrak Texas Eagle till recently.
How Often: Very rare.
I've been on Six of these detours, most recently the original Mopac Texas Eagle route from Longview to Taylor.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,735
Location
x
Fun Facts: The fartherest south the Great Northern ever built was Keddie.
Slight correction...the interchange between the Great Northern and Western Pacific was much further north...at Bieber, CA. That was as far as the GN built. The WP ran from there to their mainline connection at Keddie Wye.

Your study is very interesting...there are so many detour possibilities, but a lot less so than just a few years ago. One that I have rode a few times was on the SFZ between Denver and Brush via LaSalle and Union. That line, originally part of the City of Denver, is now gone. Other's still used on the same train is the alternate route between Omaha and Pacific Junction via Council Bluffs instead of Plattsmouth. One of the rarest of SFZ detours was the one time I am aware of, that it went via BN's line between Denver and Cheyenne, including some street running through Fort Collins. Another more common detour was when they could detour the CZ via Ogden and the Salt Lake trestle, or the lines west of SLC. I believe the SFZ also detoured Brush to Lincoln via Grand Island. And it has also detoured between Plattsmouth and Ashland bypassing Omaha.

I would go almost anywhere in the US to ride a substantial line that I have never ridden before, if I know about it in time to get there....:cool:
 

willem

Maintenance
Joined
Aug 17, 2014
Messages
1,166
Location
in the depths
Thanks for the list.
I've been on Six of these detours
I've been on five, plus one that wasn't listed, from Fargo to Minot on the Surrey Cutoff.
Host: BNSF
Distance: about 265 miles
Scenic highlight: high bridge over Lake Ashtabula
Fun fact: none other than I've taken it once
How often: Maybe two or three periods in the 2009-2014 time frame, but for multiple days
St. Paul-Fargo
Host: BNSF (I'm pretty sure)
Distance: 262 Miles
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Original Route of the Empire Builder
How Often: Usually in the spring when the normal route floods.
That's one of them I've been on, but it wasn't due to floods, it was because of a derailment. I don't recall hearing of the current Empire Builder route flooding between Saint Paul and Fargo, and the route from Breckenridge to Fargo would be many more miles in the Red River Valley (where floods are common) than the route from Detroit Lakes to Fargo.
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,166
Location
Socal
One of the rarest of SFZ detours was the one time I am aware of, that it went via BN's line between Denver and Cheyenne, including some street running through Fort Collins.
That is awesome, it is this streetrunning, correct?


As for me, I have been on zero. I would love to be on the Starlight over the Keddie Wye...

Very fun to read!
 

jiml

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,880
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
The other day when I saw there was a avalanche on the HiLine I thought about what detours were available so I decided to to make a list of all the potential detours in the country. I'll try to add the distances when I figure them out at a later time.

California Zephyr

Chicago-Omaha via the EX Chicago & Northwestern
Host: Union Pacific
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Mississippi River Crossing at Clinton, IA
Fun Facts: A UP Engine with Cab Signals has to lead the train in CNW Territory for Cab Signals.
How Often: Usually in the early spring during the floods in the midwest

Denver-Salt Lake City
Host: Union Pacific
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Wyoming, Ruby Canyon
Fun Facts: The Only Time you can ride Amtrak in the state of Wyoming.
How Often: During Maintenance blitzes on the Moffet Line

Winnemucca-Sacramento
Host: Union Pacific
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Feather River Canyon
Fun Facts: The Original Route of the California Zephyr
How Often: Very rare. It has been done but not often

Capitol Limited/Lake Shore Limited

Chicago-South Bend Via CN
Host: Canadian National
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: The original route of the International Limited
How Often: Very Rare. It has happened once this year in 2021 when a freight derailment blocked the NS Chicago Line.

Chicago-Cleveland via the EX B&O
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Urban Indiana, and Indiana and Ohio Farmland.
Fun Facts: EX Baltimore & Ohio to Greenwich, OH and EX New York Central to Cleveland, OH
How Often: It has happened once in the last five years.

Chicago-Toledo via Detroit
Host: Norfolk Southern and Amtrak
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Lake Erie between Toledo and Detroit
Fun Facts: All EX New York Central Right of Ways
How Often: It has happened more frequently than the other detours mentioned but nothing planned out far in advance.

Capitol Limited (Exclusive Routes)

Pittsburgh-Cleveland via Youngstown
Host: CSX Pittsburgh-Youngstown, NS Youngstown-Ashtabula, CSX Ashtabula-Cleveland
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Lake Erie between Ashtabula and Cleveland
Fun Facts: Passenger trains haven't been scheduled between Youngstown and Ashtabula since the 1950s.
How Often: I don't think this has been operated before.

Pittsburgh-Chicago via the EX B&O
Host: CSX
Distance
Scenic Highlights: Northern Indiana and farmland of Ohio and Indiana
Fun Facts: Amtrak operated this in the mid 2000s.
How Often: Very rare never planned if it is ran.

Lake Shore Limited

Cleveland-Buffalo via the Nickel Plate Road
Host: NS
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: You can see the parallel Water Level Route the whole way.
Fun Facts: Hasn't had passenger service since the 1960s
How Often: Very rare, never planned if it is ran.

Cardinal

Kenova, KY (Huntington, WV)-Charlottesville via N&W
Host: NS
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Appalachia, New River Valley in Virginia.
Fun Facts: Route of the Powhattan Arrow
How Often: I don't think I've ever heard of this but it is a doable detour.

City of New Orleans

Jackson-Meridian-New Orleans
Host: KCS Jackson-Meridian, NS Meridian-New Orleans
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: The Kansas City Southern Speedway
How Often: Usually bus substituted however I have heard of it once or twice before

Coast Starlight

Los Angeles-Oakland via Tehachapi Loop
Host: Metrolink Los Angeles-Lancaster, UP Lancaster-Oakland
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Altamont Pass, Tehachapi Loop, Central Valley, the Mojave Desert
Fun Facts: Instead of running the San Joachim Route on BNSF it runs on the EX Southern Pacific the whole length of the valley.
How Often: Usually once or twice a year. Usually planned in advance.

Davis-Los Molinos
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: The original route of the SP Cascade
How Often: Very rare

Sacramento-Klamath Falls
Host UP Sacramento-Keddie, BNSF Keddie-Klamath Falls
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Feather River Canyon, Keddie Wye, Inside Gateway
Fun Facts: The fartherest south the Great Northern ever built was Keddie.
How Often: Very rare, I think it's been done once though.

Klamath Falls-Portland via Bend
Host: UP/BNSF: BNSF Klamath Falls-Columbia River Gorge, UP Columbia River Gorge-Portland
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Deutsches River Valley, Columbia River Gorge, Multnonah Falls
Fun Facts: Amtrak sent their office cars this way when the Starlight route was blocked and they canceled the Starlight.
How Often: It's been done but very rare. Normally due to a blockage on the normal route.

Portland-Vancouver via Albina Yard
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Albina Yard, North Portland
Fun Facts: The route of the UP Pool Train into Portland from Seattle
How Often: I don't think it's been done.

Olympia-Tacoma once the Bypass opens
Host: BNSF
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Tacoma Narrows, Point Defiance
Fun Facts: Still in use as an Amtrak route
How Often: Remains to be seen how often

Tacoma-Seattle
Host: UP
Distance
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Originally the Milwaukee Road
How Often: I haven't heard of it but it is possible.

Crescent

Alexandria-Danville
Host: CSX Alexandria-Richmond, NS Richmond-Danville
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Rare Milage on one of the original Southern Railway Lines
Fun Facts: Originally the Richmond and Danville
How Often: The Auto Train did this once.

Alexandria-Greensboro
Host: CSX Alexandria-Selma, NS Selma-Greensboro
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Richmond, and Raleigh skylines
Fun Facts: Part of the Amtrak Network
How Often: Never seen it happen.

Charlotte-Atlanta via Monroe
Host: CSX
Distance
Scenic Highlights: SC Upstate, Athens, GA
Fun Facts: Route of the Silver Comet
How Often: It has been done a few times in 2013.

There are some routes between Atlanta and New Orleans but they don't do that on the yearly maintenance blitzes so I'm not listing them.

Empire Builder

Chicago-Milwaukee via C&NW
Host: UP
Distance
Scenic Highlights: Lake Michigan
Fun Facts: Route of the 400
How Often: I don't recall seeing it but it is doable.

Chicago-St. Paul via CB&Q
Host: BNSF
Distance
Scenic Highlights: Mississippi Valley for 300 miles.
Fun Facts: The original Empire Builder Route
How Often: Usually in the spring when the normal route is flooded.

St. Paul-Fargo
Host: BNSF
Distance: 262 Miles
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Original Route of the Empire Builder
How Often: Usually in the spring when the normal route floods.

Fargo-Sandpoint
Host: BNSF/ Montana Rail Link
Distance: 1,175
Scenic Highlights: Central Montana
Fun Facts: Route of the Mainstreeter and North Coast Limited
How Often: It's never been done.

Spokane-Seattle
Host: BNSF
Distance: 396
Scenic Highlights: Stampede Pass
How Often: I don't think it's been done.

Spokane-Portland via UP
Host: UP
Distance: 400 or so Miles
Scenic Highlights: Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge
Fun Facts: Route of the City of Hinkle
How Often: I don't think it's been done.

Wolverine/Blue Water

Chicago-Battle Creek
Host: CN
Distance: 170 Miles
Scenic Highlights: Northern Indiana, South Bend
Fun Facts: Original routing of the International Limited
How Often: Once in the last year during a NS Derailment I believe

Silver Star/Silver Meteor/Auto Train

Richmond-Columbia via Charlotte
Host: NS
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Charlotte skyline
Fun Facts: Runs on SC's Fall Line.
How Often: The Auto Train has used part of it once.

Charleston-Dillon
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Low Country SC
Fun Facts: Originally the Seaboard Airline
How Often: It might have been done once or twice this decade.

Dillon-Hamlet
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Originally the Seaboard Airline
How Often: It can occur whenever the A line is messed up between Dillon and Selma, or the S line is messed up between Hamlet and Savannah.

The Other route between Savannah-Selma has happened a few times with a SM Taking the S line or the SS taking the A Line

Jessup-Jacksonville via Waycross
Host: CSX
Distance
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Original Atlantic Coastline
How Often: It happens occasionally when the Nahunta Cutoff is closed.

Jacksonville-Auburndale
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Central Florida
Fun Facts: Original Seaboard Airline
How Often: The Auto Train did it this year. Occasionally happens but never planned.

Southwest Chief/California Zephyr
Chicago-Galesburg via ATSF
Distance:
Scenic highlights:
Fun Facts: Original Santa Fe
How Often: Very Rare

Southwest Chief

Galesburg-Kansas City
Host: BNSF
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Quincy, IL
Fun Facts: Route of the American Royal Zephyr
How Often: Very Rare

Kansas City-Topeka
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic highlights:
Fun Facts: Route of the City of St. Louis
How Often: Usually in the spring during midwestern floods.

Kansas City-Albuquerque
Host: BNSF
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Texas Panhandle
Fun Facts: The Southern Transcon
How Often: It has Happened a few times.

Texas Eagle
Chicago-St. Louis via C&EI
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Eastern Illinois
Fun Facts: Route of the L&N Chicago Trains
How Often: Track Work on the Lincoln Corridor or derailments. Was operated in 2021.

St. Louis-Poplar Bluff via SSW
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic highlights: Illinois bank of the Mississippi
Fun Facts: Lost passenger service in the 1950s
How Often: In the spring when the regular route is flooded.

Longview-Taylor
Host: UP
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Texas
Fun Facts: Original route of the Texas Eagle
How Often: It has happened recently in 2017

Dallas-Ft. Worth
Host: UP
Distance
Scenic Highlights: The Metroplex
Fun Facts: Route of the Amtrak Texas Eagle till recently.
How Often: Very rare.
Usual great detail. 👍
 

Trogdor

BURNiNATOR
Joined
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Messages
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Another small detour not mentioned:

Cardinal, Chicago-Dyer via the CN (City of New Orleans/Illini/Saluki route) and a connection at Harvey. Don't know how often it's used, but it was done back in 2011 or 2012 when trackwork had one segment of the normal route blocked.
 

Seaboard92

Engineer
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
4,391
Location
South Carolina
I would go almost anywhere in the US to ride a substantial line that I have never ridden before, if I know about it in time to get there....:cool:
Same here when I get wind of one I generally start looking at flights to meet a train that's scheduled to take the detour. I modified my travel plans once three times on a trip to get Tehachapi Loop and I didn't regret it.

Another one time detour I've seen was on the Silver Star Columbia-Sumter-Florence-Dillon-Hamlet. And it was in daylight too due to a freight derailment near Cheraw. But now that the freights aren't running on the S line anymore I doubt we will see that happen ever again so I omitted it.

There are plenty of good detour routes available I think right now it really depends more on the passenger load, and the availability of crews to get a train out and over the road.
 
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Which makes one wonder why most times instead of a reroute there's a cancellation... resistance from the hosts?
That, and other logistics...obtaining a pilot, or sometimes an entire crew from the host, if available. Seems the 'go-to' remedy for Amtrak now is to turn the trains on either side of the disruption, and use a charter bus bridge...
 

Qapla

Engineer
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
2,200
Location
Gator Country Florida
Jacksonville-Auburndale
Host: CSX
Distance:
Scenic Highlights: Central Florida
Fun Facts: Original Seaboard Airline
How Often: The Auto Train did it this year. Occasionally happens but never planned.
Taking this detour also provides the ability to bypass JAX by going through Baldwin to Callahan - not to mention that the train would pass within 4 miles of my house instead of 35 miles
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,166
Location
Socal
Taking this detour also provides the ability to bypass JAX by going through Baldwin to Callahan - not to mention that the train would pass within 4 miles of my house instead of 35 miles
Well that's great for you!

Not so great for JAX...


Then theres me who lives less than half a mile from a transcon :D
 
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Messages
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I used to live in Arvada, CO, in an apartment on Lamar Street. It crossed both the Rio Grande mainline, where you could see the RGZ, and the Ski Train, as well as the BN (Colorado & Southern) "beer line" to Golden. Great view for railfanning.
One day in the late '70's, there was a major disruption on the normal UP route going west from Denver, and Amtrak got approval to detour over The Grande between Denver and Salt Lake City. I was able to watch it from my window. Unfortunately, that day, the train carried no dome cars...not even the low profile former SP dome lounges it usually did on that segment. What a shame for the passengers....

Another detour route I recall, was on the Pioneer. The route between Green River, WY and Ogden was blocked, so they ran up the former City of Portland route from Granger to McCammon, ID via Kemmerer. Since it is a shortcut, they didn't lose any time on that one...
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,166
Location
Socal
Another detour route I recall, was on the Pioneer. The route between Green River, WY and Ogden was blocked, so they ran up the former City of Portland route from Granger to McCammon, ID via Kemmerer. Since it is a shortcut, they didn't lose any time on that one...
The Overland route for the CZ is quicker, right? So they don't lose any time on that either.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
AU Lifetime Supporter
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Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
That, and other logistics...obtaining a pilot, or sometimes an entire crew from the host, if available. Seems the 'go-to' remedy for Amtrak now is to turn the trains on either side of the disruption, and use a charter bus bridge...
There is also the issue of keeping equipment rotations as intact as possible. Landing up with equipment out of place and hopelessly out of time slot is not necessarily a good thing, since it affects not only the disrupted service but also could disrupt other services for days.
 

rms492

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Messages
197
How 'long' (mileage wise) of a detour should it be to be complete? In Southern California, very rarely, the Southwest Chief can and has detoured from San Bernardino to LA Union Station using Metrolink's San Bernardino Line, a distance of about 55-60 miles or so. The line is pretty much a straight shot west, and most of it is a fast 79mph running. Here is a video I posted of it passing Claremont at close to 79 mph westbound back in 2014, so you can see it does not happen too often:
. By the way, note that this part of the line at least from San Bernardino to Claremont WAS/IS the original Santa Fe Pasadena Sub (or second district), used by the Super Chief! (At Claremont, it then runs on the old SP Baldwin Park branch that got rebuilt in anticipation of Metrolink using it way back in 1992). And of course now, the L (Gold) Line uses the ex-Santa Fe line from LA Union Station to Azusa, and currently being extended to Pomona/Claremont/Montclair.
 
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Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporter
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Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,304
Location
Denver
The Deschutes (Inside Gateway) line from Chemult to Portland (UP) or Vancouver (BN) was used fairly often at one time as it is just about the same running time as the Coast Starlight via Eugene. When the major slide in the Cascades shut down the SP, it seemed that Amtrak was trying to pull a Sunset on the segment between Sacramento and Portland. In a heated public meeting a young woman from Amtrak explained condescendingly that a passenger train couldn't go that way. What she was evading was that the freight traffic was jamming up the Inside Gateway. Amtrak compromised as I recall and turned the trains at Klamath Falls and Eugene.

I've experienced three bustitutions on Amtrak: Sacramento>Stockton, Klamath Falls>Eugene, Pasco>Spokane. For the latter there were likely some really unhappy people as the Private Varnish had to go back to Portland. The trackage is there that could have put Trains 27/28 on the UP but as noted in another post Amtrak prefers bus travel. As Pasco is an intermodal terminal it is set up for buses.

In all the train riding that I've done the only detours that I've experienced were on transit lines and in Germany.P1040614.JPG

P1040618.JPG

P1040615.JPG
 

Seaboard92

Engineer
Joined
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Messages
4,391
Location
South Carolina
If I knew the line from Bend was going to be used I would be calling Alaska Airlines and listing as a standby travel agent five minutes after getting that news. I think that would be a detour best done northbound as you would get the entire section in daylight. But I want to ride every detour and every time I hear of one I price out what it would cost. I've worked on that PV before that is the Wisconsin it's owned by a retired school teacher.
 
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If I knew the line from Bend was going to be used I would be calling Alaska Airlines and listing as a standby travel agent five minutes after getting that news. I think that would be a detour best done northbound as you would get the entire section in daylight. But I want to ride every detour
I like the way you think...;)
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
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Location
Ithaca, NY
Another one not mentioned which I've seen photos of:

Capitol Limited/Lake Shore Limited

Chicago-Porter Via South Shore Lone
Host: South Shore Line
Distance:
Scenic Highlights:
Fun Facts: Under Wire
How Often: Very Rare. Done during unexpected freight derailment in the right part of the NS Chicago Line when the more common CN detour was also unavailable.
 
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Here was a very unlikely detour for the pre-Amtrak CZ...imagine doing that today?:)


Perhaps even rarer, back then, was when the CZ detoured all the way from Denver to Oakland on the Santa Fe, via Albuquerque and Barstow...IIRC, the UP's "City" did as well, during an extreme blizzard blocking both usual routes across the Rockies...
 

longdistance

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 1, 2016
Messages
20
I have a question about a detour in the night from Tuesday February 27 2001 to Wednesday 28 February 2001 on the Empire Builder somewhere between Havre and Spokane. I made a trip from Chicago to Portland. Because of a freight derailment there where rumors in the train of changing on a bus. Later in the evening (night) it was clear we could stay on the train happily! I remember there was a very long stop in the night because we had to wait on pilots. We would make a detour. I also remember that we arrived in the morning in Spokane with a delay of about 8 hours. I realized on the detour (it ended before Spokane) that I was passing beautiful scenery in daylight. There were quite a number of rail enthusiasts along the track taking pictures and movies of our train. Perhaps someone of these enthusiasts is reading my question?? What was the detour? I fell asleep during the long stop and wake up in the early hours of the morning.
BTW, later just after leaving Spokane there was a long stop again in the middle of nowhere because of a heavy earthquake in the region Portland-Seattle. My trip was such an adventure later that at home again in Europe many people didn’t believe it was possible. But that’s a different story! I hope someone can telling me something about my detour!!
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
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Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
I have a question about a detour in the night from Tuesday February 27 2001 to Wednesday 28 February 2001 on the Empire Builder somewhere between Havre and Spokane. I made a trip from Chicago to Portland. Because of a freight derailment there where rumors in the train of changing on a bus. Later in the evening (night) it was clear we could stay on the train happily! I remember there was a very long stop in the night because we had to wait on pilots. We would make a detour. I also remember that we arrived in the morning in Spokane with a delay of about 8 hours. I realized on the detour (it ended before Spokane) that I was passing beautiful scenery in daylight. There were quite a number of rail enthusiasts along the track taking pictures and movies of our train. Perhaps someone of these enthusiasts is reading my question?? What was the detour? I fell asleep during the long stop and wake up in the early hours of the morning.
BTW, later just after leaving Spokane there was a long stop again in the middle of nowhere because of a heavy earthquake in the region Portland-Seattle. My trip was such an adventure later that at home again in Europe many people didn’t believe it was possible. But that’s a different story! I hope someone can telling me something about my detour!!
If you diverted around Marias Pass, you would have left the High Line at Shelby, gone through Great Falls and Helena and then across Mullen Pass and then through Missoula on what is Montana Rail Link, and joined the original route at Sandpoint ID. I don't know for sure if that is what they did, but from your brief description it sounds like it.
 

Agent

Conductor
Joined
Nov 30, 2011
Messages
1,455
Location
Iowa
I think I have a couple to add for the California Zephyr.

Denver to Omaha on the Union Pacific. I believe I've seen that that's been used a few times.

The other one I have I've only heard of once: Ottumwa to Galesburg via what now the Canadian Pacific to Kansas City and then the regular Southwest Chief route to Galesburg. I thought I had seen a photograph of this occurring, but searching only found a mention about halfway down this page.
 
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