What's the latest with 8/28? Weather, equipment, staff and other disruptions

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oregon pioneer

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The slide in Marias Pass has caused BNSF to close the tracks there for a couple of days. They have cancelled all Amtrak leaving on the hi-line for today, tomorrow and Monday. I am re-booked for Tuesday, and we'll see where this goes by then. I wonder what they did with last night's 28 that made it as far as Spokane.
 

WWW

No real RR Job
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Looking at:
Track Your Train Map | Amtrak

No EB traffic anywhere - pretty bleak picture - rain and snow and dark of night - mudslides freight derailments - and this shiver me timbers weather !
Places where a bus bridge alternative will not work. A real mess in the Pacific northwest.
And then the crew staffing another hurdle and train consist logistics.

Business as usual ala Global Warming
 

fritz

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7 and 8 depatures all cancelled through Monday at least. Sure is taking along time to sort this all out. Anybody know more about how bad the Marias avalanche was?
 

AmtrakBlue

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7 and 8 depatures all cancelled through Monday at least. Sure is taking along time to sort this all out. Anybody know more about how bad the Marias avalanche was?
I think I read it won’t be open till at least Tuesday
 

John Bredin

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I understand Amtrak not having enough equipment or personnel to run the Empire Builders their entire run, and the situation with the mountain passes in the West.

But IMHO, unless they're really short of crews, Amtrak should operate a corridor train (more Horizons and Amfleets than Superliners, smaller crews needed) between Chicago and St. Paul rather than completely canceling the trains.
 

WWW

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But IMHO, unless they're really short of crews, Amtrak should operate a corridor train (more Horizons and Amfleets than Superliners, smaller crews needed) between Chicago and St. Paul rather than completely canceling the trains.

Yes Amtrak could do just that and not have a full train Superliner consist - could operate in the same time slot as the scheduled service and
at MSP having a wye to turn the train right next to Union Depot. With a rapid turn around 1 train set and 2 crews could do this daily.
Only concern at this time of the year is cold - I mean really cold temperatures affecting the train equipment frozen water lines etc.
At least this would not penalize the MSP to CHI operation for passengers traveling east to other points.
Surely CP rail can squeeze in this one train daily both directions with its freight operation
FYI BNSF portion is from MSP - SEA --- the portion from MSP - CHI is on CP rail.
Another positive reason for that 2nd MSP-CHI rail trip to start early - - -
People people with daylight rail trips all the fancy sleeper roomette equipment is not needed !
 

jruff001

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I understand Amtrak not having enough equipment or personnel to run the Empire Builders their entire run, and the situation with the mountain passes in the West.

But IMHO, unless they're really short of crews, Amtrak should operate a corridor train (more Horizons and Amfleets than Superliners, smaller crews needed) between Chicago and St. Paul rather than completely canceling the trains.
That would effectively double the number of operating crews needed for that segment though: one set for the on time local CHI-MSP sections, and one set to cover the delayed long distance SEA/PDX ones. I doubt they have that much extra staffing available right now.
 

John Bredin

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That would effectively double the number of operating crews needed for that segment though: one set for the on time local CHI-MSP sections, and one set to cover the delayed long distance SEA/PDX ones. I doubt they have that much extra staffing available right now.
Point taken. I should refine my position: if a disruption for whatever reason means there's no trainset arriving at St. Paul from the west, so be it, there's no eastbound Empire Builder (EB) that day. But with the changes in engineers (and other crewmembers IIRC) as long-distance trains cross the country, I don't think EBs stuck in the Pacific Northwest or on the northern plains necessarily imply the absence of crews CHI-MSP.

So long as Amtrak can dig up at Chicago before the EB's westbound departure time an engine, a few coaches and a cafe of any car type, an engineer trained on the CHI-MSP route, a conductor, and a cafe attendant, I believe Amtrak should send them out as the EB on a CHI-MSP run, which can then be the next day's MSP-CHI train, and so forth until there are enough Superliners and crews in the right places to run proper EBs.

With the westbound EB leaving Chicago before the eastbound arrives, I realize that means two trainsets and two crews. (Possibly more crews if the eastbound EB leaves on time, the same engineer that arrives in MSP at 10pm not being able to leave MSP at 8am). But again, the engineer (and conductor and cafe attendant, IIRC) who brings the eastbound EB into Chicago isn't the one who came from Seattle or Portland. For the CHI-MSP crews (minus diner crews and sleeper attendants), it should be business as usual except for the train possibly consisting of Amfleets or Horizons.

If there's some detail of FRA regulations, Amtrak rules, or union agreements that I'm missing by my unfamiliarity and that knocks my idea into a cocked hat, I apologize.
 

RalphCT

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I understand Amtrak not having enough equipment or personnel to run the Empire Builders their entire run, and the situation with the mountain passes in the West.

But IMHO, unless they're really short of crews, Amtrak should operate a corridor train (more Horizons and Amfleets than Superliners, smaller crews needed) between Chicago and St. Paul rather than completely canceling the trains.
Seems like Amtrak has done this in past pre-Covid years. They used a shorter consist of SuperLiner cars and made one trip each way between Chicago and Saint Paul. I think they had unique train numbers too but I can't recall exactly what they were.
 

John Bredin

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Seems like Amtrak has done this in past pre-Covid years. They used a shorter consist of SuperLiner cars and made one trip each way between Chicago and Saint Paul. I think they had unique train numbers too but I can't recall exactly what they were.
807 and 808 come to mind, but those might have been a setout coach (between CHI and MSP only) on the regular Empire Builder.
 

jebr

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Point taken. I should refine my position: if a disruption for whatever reason means there's no trainset arriving at St. Paul from the west, so be it, there's no eastbound Empire Builder (EB) that day. But with the changes in engineers (and other crewmembers IIRC) as long-distance trains cross the country, I don't think EBs stuck in the Pacific Northwest or on the northern plains necessarily imply the absence of crews CHI-MSP.

So long as Amtrak can dig up at Chicago before the EB's westbound departure time an engine, a few coaches and a cafe of any car type, an engineer trained on the CHI-MSP route, a conductor, and a cafe attendant, I believe Amtrak should send them out as the EB on a CHI-MSP run, which can then be the next day's MSP-CHI train, and so forth until there are enough Superliners and crews in the right places to run proper EBs.

With the westbound EB leaving Chicago before the eastbound arrives, I realize that means two trainsets and two crews. (Possibly more crews if the eastbound EB leaves on time, the same engineer that arrives in MSP at 10pm not being able to leave MSP at 8am). But again, the engineer (and conductor and cafe attendant, IIRC) who brings the eastbound EB into Chicago isn't the one who came from Seattle or Portland. For the CHI-MSP crews (minus diner crews and sleeper attendants), it should be business as usual except for the train possibly consisting of Amfleets or Horizons.
The crew bases involved for the Empire Builder would be St. Cloud, Milwaukee, and Chicago. Winona is the crew change point - a crew from Chicago or Milwaukee would only be trained as far as Winona. The St. Cloud crew based covers the segment between Minot and Winona (crews change in St. Cloud each direction.) Theoretically crews could wind up stuck in Minot, though you could probably fly them back to MSP and have them join the train there if flight schedules and availability allows.

Doing a train MSP - Chicago wouldn't be super difficult, but you'd need crew availability both in Chicago (and Milwaukee for engineers) and St. Cloud to make it work. If the rotation is off in Winona things could get weird with crew positioning, though that likely wouldn't be insurmountable.
 

neroden

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The crew bases involved for the Empire Builder would be St. Cloud, Milwaukee, and Chicago. Winona is the crew change point - a crew from Chicago or Milwaukee would only be trained as far as Winona. The St. Cloud crew based covers the segment between Minot and Winona (crews change in St. Cloud each direction.) Theoretically crews could wind up stuck in Minot, though you could probably fly them back to MSP and have them join the train there if flight schedules and availability allows.

Doing a train MSP - Chicago wouldn't be super difficult, but you'd need crew availability both in Chicago (and Milwaukee for engineers) and St. Cloud to make it work. If the rotation is off in Winona things could get weird with crew positioning, though that likely wouldn't be insurmountable.
MSP-Chicago should work; you'd have to drive the crews from St Cloud to MSP and back but that's really pretty straightforward (there are, after all, state-run buses multiple times daily, so they keep those roads open). Or you could just run the trains to St. Cloud and back, if there's a track to park them on at St Cloud.
 

chickpea

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I didn't see in this thread why the cancellations on MSP-CHI but a friend ended up having to bail out of Amtrak MSP>NYP and fly... :-(

I have a newbie question - related to this thread title - that I have browsed around to find out without success: I gather that 7 and 8 refer to train numbers but why are they usually called (or lately called) 7/27 and 8/28, please? (I'm also still working out acronyms, which are tough as the glossary of them is divided by topic and wheeeewww I have a steep learning curve ahead!)
 

CCC1007

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I didn't see in this thread why the cancellations on MSP-CHI but a friend ended up having to bail out of Amtrak MSP>NYP and fly... :-(

I have a newbie question - related to this thread title - that I have browsed around to find out without success: I gather that 7 and 8 refer to train numbers but why are they usually called (or lately called) 7/27 and 8/28, please? (I'm also still working out acronyms, which are tough as the glossary of them is divided by topic and wheeeewww I have a steep learning curve ahead!)
In this case, specific to the Empire Builder, the train runs as 2 in the computers at Amtrak, trains 7 and 8 are the Seattle section, and 27 and 28 are the Portland section. In all practicality, they are a single train from Chicago to Spokane, or from Spokane to Chicago.

As for the terms used here, a train number listed as this example, 7(11), is referring to train 7 departing on the 11th day of the month, and these distinctions are especially useful for figuring out which train a person is referring to, especially out west where 2 or 3 of the same train number can be or are running at once.
 

Bob Dylan

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I didn't see in this thread why the cancellations on MSP-CHI but a friend ended up having to bail out of Amtrak MSP>NYP and fly... :-(

I have a newbie question - related to this thread title - that I have browsed around to find out without success: I gather that 7 and 8 refer to train numbers but why are they usually called (or lately called) 7/27 and 8/28, please? (I'm also still working out acronyms, which are tough as the glossary of them is divided by topic and wheeeewww I have a steep learning curve ahead!)
The Empire Builder has 2 Sections: 7/ 8( Bag Car, 2 Sleepers,Diner,2 Coaches)between Seattle and Spokane) are the CHI-SEA Sections,. and 27/28 are the Portland,Oregon Sections.Just 4 Cars between Portland and Spokane,(Sightseer Lounge,2 Coaches , 1 a Coach/Bag and the Sleeper on the end of the Consist)

They run together between Chicago and Spokane and Split in Spokane for the Trip West to Seattle(7) and Portland (27) and Switch together into one consist (8/28)for the Trip East to Chicago.
 
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Willbridge

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I didn't see in this thread why the cancellations on MSP-CHI but a friend ended up having to bail out of Amtrak MSP>NYP and fly... :-(

I have a newbie question - related to this thread title - that I have browsed around to find out without success: I gather that 7 and 8 refer to train numbers but why are they usually called (or lately called) 7/27 and 8/28, please? (I'm also still working out acronyms, which are tough as the glossary of them is divided by topic and wheeeewww I have a steep learning curve ahead!)
I'll add one other piece of info. Normally, Amtrak offers the alternative of changing trains in Spokane (in the wee hours) from Train 7 to 27, for example. It's just changing cars, but sometimes there is a fare difference by doing that, and sometimes the through space is sold out on one section or the other, but not both.

There once were hundreds of situations like this in the days before the mid-1960's, booked without the help of computers.
 

moselman66

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Thursday and Friday are cancelled too. Currently Saturday 1/15 is the first train planned to depart CHI or SEA.

Looking at MSP-CHI the first train planning to run -- assuming no further cancels -- is Monday 1/17. That will hopefully end three weeks of horrible results. For the three weeks between 12/27 and 1/16 on MSP-CHI, Chicago arrivals:

0 trains within 2 hours of schedule
6 trains 2-6 hours late
3 trains 6-12 hours late
2 trains 12+ hours late
10 cancellations

Certainly the extreme weather conditions out west + COVID impacts are killers here. But CHI-MSP is the top city pair for the Empire Builder and the sort where good train service has a shot at carving out a solid niche. But relying on an LD route to exclusively serve this sort of city pair makes them very vulnerable. Imagine the reliability issues and customer defections if all the NEC trains were run as portions of LD trains running things like Montreal-New Orleans and Buffalo-Miami. These kind of results over a three week period can do real sustained damage to demand. That second CHI-MSP trip which runs locally can't come soon enough.
 

chickpea

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Just seen all the EB cancellations and getting SO VERY nervous about my trip. Lucky I am time-rich, but still... my Zephyr is on time, but the forecast for snow again in NC(!!!) and VA could make headaches for my upcoming Cardinal to Crescent journey. Sigh.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Thursday and Friday are cancelled too. Currently Saturday 1/15 is the first train planned to depart CHI or SEA.

Looking at MSP-CHI the first train planning to run -- assuming no further cancels -- is Monday 1/17. That will hopefully end three weeks of horrible results. For the three weeks between 12/27 and 1/16 on MSP-CHI, Chicago arrivals:

0 trains within 2 hours of schedule
6 trains 2-6 hours late
3 trains 6-12 hours late
2 trains 12+ hours late
10 cancellations

Certainly the extreme weather conditions out west + COVID impacts are killers here. But CHI-MSP is the top city pair for the Empire Builder and the sort where good train service has a shot at carving out a solid niche. But relying on an LD route to exclusively serve this sort of city pair makes them very vulnerable. Imagine the reliability issues and customer defections if all the NEC trains were run as portions of LD trains running things like Montreal-New Orleans and Buffalo-Miami. These kind of results over a three week period can do real sustained damage to demand. That second CHI-MSP trip which runs locally can't come soon enough.
I saw a post on FB that someone got an email telling them ignore the prior email cancelling their 1/14 trip, so I’m not sure if 1/14 is indeed cancelled.
 

moselman66

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7 was launched from Spokane eastbound yesterday so there is a MSP-CHI trip running today (Friday 1/14). At least that will get some equipment to Chicago and some passengers.
 

WWW

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7 was launched from Spokane eastbound yesterday so there is a MSP-CHI trip running today (Friday 1/14). At least that will get some equipment to Chicago and some passengers.
You must have meant EB train #8/13 - current location near Staples MN next stop St. Cloud about 2 hours late in progress from schedule.
 
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