Potential Detours

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railiner

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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.
The latter example is certainly going way out of the way...if it had occurred a few years earlier, there would have been a lot more more direct options. Nowadays, there are less and less.

Another 'short' detour the CZ has taken in western Iowa, between Council Bluffs and Malvern via the N&W (former Wabash). Another line gone.
 

longdistance

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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.
Thank you for your information! I dont remember that passengers for (by example West-Glacier or Whitefish) had to be “bussed”. Probably I slept through those stations if. If I am looking on openrailwaymap.org I see there is a parallel track from Sandpoint to Spokane. Is that a possiblility in 2001?
Is there a sort of “archive” of historical arrivals and departures of Amtrakstations?
 

trainman74

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In 2002, I was on an Empire Builder that detoured only between La Crosse and Chicago via the former CB&Q (not all the way from St. Paul), due to a major freight derailment that was blocking the north end of Chicago Union Station.
 

Willbridge

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Thank you for your information! I dont remember that passengers for (by example West-Glacier or Whitefish) had to be “bussed”. Probably I slept through those stations if. If I am looking on openrailwaymap.org I see there is a parallel track from Sandpoint to Spokane. Is that a possiblility in 2001?
Is there a sort of “archive” of historical arrivals and departures of Amtrak stations?
A lot of detour history is found in regional railfan publications. Few of those back issues are cataloged on the internet.

Another possible detour for your train was Bonners Ferry to Spokane on the Spokane International (UP).
 

railiner

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Thank you for your information! I dont remember that passengers for (by example West-Glacier or Whitefish) had to be “bussed”. Probably I slept through those stations if. If I am looking on openrailwaymap.org I see there is a parallel track from Sandpoint to Spokane. Is that a possiblility in 2001?
Is there a sort of “archive” of historical arrivals and departures of Amtrakstations?
Not sure if even Amtrak itself would keep such records going back that far. You could ask them, and see what their response is...
 

longdistance

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A lot of detour history is found in regional railfan publications. Few of those back issues are cataloged on the internet.

Another possible detour for your train was Bonners Ferry to Spokane on the Spokane International (UP).
I have been looking around on the internet, and I think it most likely must have been this route. I noticed that in normal circumstances the Empire Builder uses tracks of BNSF. Spokane International is UP. Here in Europe the railroadnetwork in one country is one organization. I can imagine it is more complicated in US, do there exist fixed procedures in such a situation? Are there federal obligations for railroads on the detour routes? Since the derailment apparently took place at BSNF, is it BSNF's responsibility to ask UP for a detour? Or should Amtrak ask UP about this? Are there fixed amounts for this as a financial compensation or is there "improvised" at such a time?
 

Cal

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I have been looking around on the internet, and I think it most likely must have been this route. I noticed that in normal circumstances the Empire Builder uses tracks of BNSF. Spokane International is UP. Here in Europe the railroadnetwork in one country is one organization. I can imagine it is more complicated in US, do there exist fixed procedures in such a situation? Are there federal obligations for railroads on the detour routes? Since the derailment apparently took place at BSNF, is it BSNF's responsibility to ask UP for a detour? Or should Amtrak ask UP about this? Are there fixed amounts for this as a financial compensation or is there "improvised" at such a time?
I would assume there is a procedure that varies between every time it happens.

Federal obligations? No idea.

I doubt it'd be BNSF's responsibility. Amtrak is the one that is needing the detour, so I would assume Amtrak would ask UP. However I don't think UP can say no, so it's more of a formality.

I would guess improvised, not sure.

These are my guesses! I'm sure more people have better answers, and more accurate ones.
 

railiner

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I am not sure if this has changed since Amtrak began, but all "member railroads" (the ones that "paid in to join the Amtrak system", in order to give up the responsibility to run their own passenger trains, are obligated to run Amtrak's trains on their railroad, at Amtrak's request. I also am not sure if this includes routes that were "freight only" at that time.

As far as procedures...either the host railroad or Amtrak itself may request a detour, whichever is more expedient. Some detours are "semi-regular" for periodic roadway maintenance. Other's are unusual, and often can lead to extreme delays that would make it more efficient to just turn the trains around, and use a charter bus 'bridge' across the obstruction, if they are available.
 

Cal

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I am not sure if this has changed since Amtrak began, but all "member railroads" (the ones that "paid in to join the Amtrak system", in order to give up the responsibility to run their own passenger trains, are obligated to run Amtrak's trains on their railroad, at Amtrak's request. I also am not sure if this includes routes that were "freight only" at that time.

As far as procedures...either the host railroad or Amtrak itself may request a detour, whichever is more expedient. Some detours are "semi-regular" for periodic roadway maintenance. Other's are unusual, and often can lead to extreme delays that would make it more efficient to just turn the trains around, and use a charter bus 'bridge' across the obstruction, if they are available.
Theres the accurate answer I was talking about!
 

Deni

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Years ago I was riding the Empire Builder from Seattle to Chicago, which I did quite often back then. I think it was early summer of 2000 and there were storms rolling in when we crossed from Montana into N. Dakota. We were sitting in Minot (I think it was Minot at least) for a while and they announced we had tornadoes in front of us so we had to detour. Anyone getting off before Fargo would have to detrain to catch a bus. We had to wait about a hour or so for a pilot from the host railroad for our detour then we took off on a more southern route through N. Dakota. I don't as much about the railroads as others on here so don't know what we were on (I'm curious though). But we booked it through there really fast. I stayed up most of the night in the Sightseer Lounge looking north as we speeded through to Fargo and watched the most amazing lightening flashes I've ever experienced.
 

Palmetto

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Your detour was on the BNSF KO subdivision, and you skipped Devils Lake and Grand Forks stations.
 

willem

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Anyone getting off before Fargo would have to detrain to catch a bus. We had to wait about a hour or so for a pilot from the host railroad for our detour then we took off on a more southern route through N. Dakota.
It sounds like you took the Surrey Cutoff (which I assume is the same as the KO subdivision that Palmetto mentioned, but Surrey Cutoff also skips Rugby so maybe not), which is a fairly straight shot from Minot to near Fargo. However, that would take you into Fargo on the old Northern Pacific tracks, and the Fargo station is on the old Great Northern track. Do you have any recollection of how you got to the Fargo station? There is a direct route maybe five miles in length over extremely slow track, or you could have gone to the interchange in Moorhead and backed into the Fargo station. There might be other options.
 

railiner

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It sounds like you took the Surrey Cutoff (which I assume is the same as the KO subdivision that Palmetto mentioned, but Surrey Cutoff also skips Rugby so maybe not), which is a fairly straight shot from Minot to near Fargo. However, that would take you into Fargo on the old Northern Pacific tracks, and the Fargo station is on the old Great Northern track. Do you have any recollection of how you got to the Fargo station? There is a direct route maybe five miles in length over extremely slow track, or you could have gone to the interchange in Moorhead and backed into the Fargo station. There might be other options.
That was the original GN Empire Builder route. The Western Star went the current EB route...
 
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It sounds like you took the Surrey Cutoff (which I assume is the same as the KO subdivision that Palmetto mentioned, but Surrey Cutoff also skips Rugby so maybe not), which is a fairly straight shot from Minot to near Fargo. However, that would take you into Fargo on the old Northern Pacific tracks, and the Fargo station is on the old Great Northern track. Do you have any recollection of how you got to the Fargo station? There is a direct route maybe five miles in length over extremely slow track, or you could have gone to the interchange in Moorhead and backed into the Fargo station. There might be other options.

I rode on the Surrey cut off in January 2020. We performed a back up move to reach the station. The reason for the detour was a snow storm
and BNSF implemented directional running. The WB EB went on the normal route.
 

Deni

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It sounds like you took the Surrey Cutoff (which I assume is the same as the KO subdivision that Palmetto mentioned, but Surrey Cutoff also skips Rugby so maybe not), which is a fairly straight shot from Minot to near Fargo. However, that would take you into Fargo on the old Northern Pacific tracks, and the Fargo station is on the old Great Northern track. Do you have any recollection of how you got to the Fargo station? There is a direct route maybe five miles in length over extremely slow track, or you could have gone to the interchange in Moorhead and backed into the Fargo station. There might be other options.
No, I think I was probably asleep by the time we pulled in to Fargo. But thanks for the info, that sounds pretty plausible.
 

WWW

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It is amazing that detours exist that are still available with the amount of dormant - questionable usage - abandoned trackage.
That and playing a game of trains - two trains meet with a siding only able to hold half of each train !

From time to time heavy winter weather does hinder the EB across ND and the bus bridge option is used as a result !
Then the reconsisting the east or west bound train with a locomotive at the front of the train - never mind what the
direction of the cars will be.
 

Cal

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From time to time heavy winter weather does hinder the EB across ND and the bus bridge option is used as a result !
Then the reconsisting the east or west bound train with a locomotive at the front of the train - never mind what the
direction of the cars will be.
Mhm, they also used a bus bridge between Spokane and Whitefish once when there was a BNSF derailment in Idaho. A reviewer was on train 28
 

willem

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That was the original GN Empire Builder route. The Western Star went the current EB route...
Thanks, I hadn't realized that. I assume the Empire Builder left the Great Northern passenger station in Fargo and then just over a mile from the station took the left branch at the interchange where the right branch goes to Grand Forks? This would route it through Prosper. (The detour I was on went northwest just after Castleton and then merged onto the track to Surrey at Nolan.)
 

WWW

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Bare in mind that the Bus Bridge only works with 7 day service and the two trains on each side of the obstruction.
With the current 3 out of 7 days - forget it !
 

longdistance

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Bare in mind that the Bus Bridge only works with 7 day service and the two trains on each side of the obstruction.
With the current 3 out of 7 days - forget it !
That’s an interesting conclusion! If I am thinking right it is possible with the current 3 days a week schedule to use only two trainconsists. for by example the Empire Builder.
 
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