Winter storm related delays and cancellations Winter 2022-2023

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skylar

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 25, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Seattle, WA
I just got a call saying that our reservation for 12/29 on Empire Builder 7 is canceled, despite there being no information on the website or Twitter feed. Anyone know what's up? At least the hold music is very upbeat...
 

rs9

Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
218
Location
Chicago
With 48/448 cancelled tonight, presumably due to the situation in Buffalo, anyone have thoughts on the likelihood of that train going out on 12/28? I'm on it and my "backup" flight booked with miles on Southwest is even more of a disaster...
 

skylar

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 25, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Seattle, WA
Just got off the phone w/ an Amtrak CSR, apparently there was confusion on whether the train really was canceled but it is. The next day had coach seats but no sleeper, so that dashes our plans for EB this year. Fortunately we managed to find a direct flight back home out of MSP that didn't cost body parts, and hopefully we can return to Amtrak next year.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
3,855
Location
SW ATL airport
With the situation at Buffalo so buried in snow wonder how CSX is going to open the tracks? City will in all likely not even allow CSX to dump snow off ROW ? can it even get snow removal trains operating with CSX's shortage of crews? Suspect it will be around Jan 1 before LSL can operate ?

The Capitol is operating so far on time tonight. If LSL equipment were attached to Capitol and Pensylvanian both ways Amtrak could carry many passengers to /fom Toledo west and NYP. Probabl delay Penslvanian to make reasonable connection to Capitol ?
 

Septa9739

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 12, 2022
Messages
39
Location
Waiting for Amtrak to clear
This seems like it’s starting to become a regulatory issue. The Builder’s been out for over a week. The LSL has been down for days. Who knows the extent of freight disruptions? The Class I’s need to be able to minimize disruptions by having ample MOW crews. Amtrak should not be cancelling trans on routes in their entirety for days on end. Run CHI to SPK if windstorms prevent service to SEA and PDX. If OBS is impacted, post a disclaimer. Most people will understand.
 

skylar

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 25, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Seattle, WA
This seems like it’s starting to become a regulatory issue. The Builder’s been out for over a week. The LSL has been down for days. Who knows the extent of freight disruptions? The Class I’s need to be able to minimize disruptions by having ample MOW crews. Amtrak should not be cancelling trans on routes in their entirety for days on end. Run CHI to SPK if windstorms prevent service to SEA and PDX. If OBS is impacted, post a disclaimer. Most people will understand.
I've been wondering that too. Is it possible BNSF is claiming mudslide disruptions just to get their own freight through? I remember that was a problem for years on the main line between Seattle and Everett, since every mudslide would close it to passenger traffic (Sounder and Cascades) for three days, freeing those time slots for freight. I think it took the threat of legal action from Sound Transit and Amtrak to get BNSF to shore up the hillside.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
3,855
Location
SW ATL airport
This seems like it’s starting to become a regulatory issue. The Builder’s been out for over a week. The LSL has been down for days. Who knows the extent of freight disruptions? The Class I’s need to be able to minimize disruptions by having ample MOW crews.
Maybe a lack of snow plows as well. Too many p;ows retired when no snow delays for several years. Also no way to get scarce T&E to operate same ??
 

skylar

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 25, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Seattle, WA
Streetsblog Chiago has a decent write-up on the cancellations this week from one of their columnist's first-hand experiences. He claims that the Empire Builder's ongoing cancellation between SEA/PDX and MSP is due to "lingering effects of the snow storm in North Dakota", which I'd definitely believe though he doesn't cite his sources. It does make me wonder how widespread the problems are in North Dakota and why it isn't feasible to detour around specific track segments that are still impassable, as I think they've done in past years when the Red River has flooded.
 

skylar

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 25, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Seattle, WA
Builder is resuming coach only between Chicago and Minneapolis - St. Paul. 7 will run today and both will run tomorrow.
I heard they were going to be full sets with sleepers. (Not saying you’re wrong ;) )
This would explain the confusion the CSR had yesterday, where she could see that I received a cancellation notice, but that the train was still showing as running. It did sound like there would be sleepers at least starting on Friday, though they were all sold out. No way would I want to risk a guaranteed 42 hours in coach with the risk of additional delays or outright cancellations at this point, so flight it is, unless Delta pulls a Southwest...
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
1,330
Streetsblog Chiago has a decent write-up on the cancellations this week from one of their columnist's first-hand experiences. He claims that the Empire Builder's ongoing cancellation between SEA/PDX and MSP is due to "lingering effects of the snow storm in North Dakota", which I'd definitely believe though he doesn't cite his sources. It does make me wonder how widespread the problems are in North Dakota and why it isn't feasible to detour around specific track segments that are still impassable, as I think they've done in past years when the Red River has flooded.

I've been to North Dakota a couple of times in the winter. I think many people underestimate the impact of the wind in that part of the country. The snowplows can clear a road, and within minutes the snow covers it again. I imagine that drifting snow must be an issue for the railroads as well.
 
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AFriendly

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 3, 2021
Messages
30
Location
PNW
I've been to North Dakota a couple of times in the winter. I think many people underestimate the impact of the wind in that part of the country. The snowplows can clear a road, and within minutes the snow covers it again. I imagine that drifting snow must be an issue for the railroads as well.
Color me unfazed. In the days before operating a railroad became too expensive, ND got hit by plenty of winter storms. The rotary snowplow is an impressive invention and BNSF has them: Plowing ahead: Heavy snowfall is no problem for BNSF’s rotary snowplows.
 
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
1,655
I know that really big snowfalls can snarl traffic (I've seen pictures with drifts, I think in the Dakota's, higher than a typical train car) - but I don't think that the recent storms were that exceptional in the plains unless the wind and cold were really creating blowing conditions above and beyond normal.
 
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
1,165
Location
MI
Follow up to my earlier posts, now that the weather conditions have abated in this region. Yes, Amtrak went to some effort to provide bus transportation to and from Chicago to points east, starting when the storm hit before Christmas and continuing through Wednesday the 28th. Passengers on the 24th/25th experienced lengthy delays and incorrect and or delayed information, but after the holiday customers fared much better. On the 26th, the day I was on cancelled 353, they would have had to put all the bus trips together on short notice, since the trains cancelled around midnight on Christmas - it was approximately that time when I got the email. So on very short notice they had the bustitutions ready in the morning, and very well organized, covering all the Michigan stops. And apparently this continued over the next 2 days as well. Although, I have to say, citing weather conditions for trains not running on the 28th when the temps reached the low 40s might raise a few eyebrows here and there. I'm guessing its more of a crew issue - and maybe maintenance since many of the trains that did run experienced frequent mechanical delays. Yeah, I'm one of those people who miss the trains that used to operate in weather than planes and cars couldn't. Still, there is nothing to complain about when your train cancels and a bus gets you where you were going even faster. The one problematic issue on the 26th was the ticket scanning, which quite simply didn't happen. I'm at a loss to understand this, and while I know from airline days exactly how to protect customer records when things go off schedule, I have zero knowledge of how Amtrak does it. Unlike other bus trips, the driver wasn't scanning tickets (since they were from a private charter company and not connected to Amtrak's system). I asked the Amtrak agent how the tickets were going to be shown as used, and she said they didn't scan tickets at the station, but that Amtrak would take care of it "on their end" and that customers' return trips would be left intact. A call to the 800 number provided the exact same information. Well, guess what. My return tickets were wiped out anyway for having no-showed on the 26th. It was an hours long ordeal to get them reinstated that continued until the next morning. With no paper trail of any kind or electronic record either, I had to do a lot of explaining that we boarded the bus as instructed and no tickets were being scanned. Yes, patience was a requirement, it's simply easier to be patient sitting at home than if you're away on a supposed vacation spending hours on hold, having calls or chats drop, etc. Most of the second day in Chicago was destroyed. (for me, not for the rest of my family anyway). So from what I piece together, Amtrak station/phone/chat agents cannot show a ticket as having been used if there is no scan (different than my airline experience). The one agent who finally gave me an explanation of the "how" said that these situations have to be handled from the Amtrak operations side. (Not clear who this is or how the ball was dropped). For both Amtrak's protection and customer service, this has to be handled better by them in the future.
 

Barciur

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 13, 2012
Messages
588
Location
Lancaster, PA
I am currently on the auto train 53 that struck a vehicle. We were told this morning we'd be in Florence at 10am and Sanford at 7pm, but we are in Florence at 11:30am.

What are the compensation rules for Amtrak in these instances? I understand it's not their fault that somebody's vehicle was left on the tracks, but I had lost a nonrefundable reservation down south of Florida and having to book an extra hotel up in Orlando area, so i am wondering what i should do in this instance.

I believe Amtrak's compensation will only extend to the train's delay, not any other expenses. Travel insurance would pick up the tab for other expenses incurred or reservations lost due to a late train/plane/bus, etc. Check if your credit card has any trip delay insurance built-in when purchasing travel.

It's pretty much up to the AGR Agent( since it's Points) you talk with when you call in.

Remember the Old Saying: " ..You catch more Flies with Sugar than Vinegar.."

Good luck, let us know the outcome!
FWIW, I just wanted to let you guys know that I am still on the vacation and havent contacted Amtrak yet, but they reached out by themselves and provided a voucher for $150 each, so totalling $300. Not great, not terrible, I'll take it for what it is and run with it. :) Thank you for the advice!
 

MIrailfan

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 2, 2014
Messages
374
Location
Jackson, Michigan

Amtrak Alerts
@AmtrakAlerts
·
14h



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Official
Coast Starlight Train 14 which is scheduled to depart Los Angeles (LAX) on 1/1 is now canceled in its entirety due to weather-related flooding in the area. For further assistance please call 1-800-USA-RAIL.

Amtrak Alerts

@AmtrakAlerts
·
14h



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Official
Coast Starlight Train 11 which is scheduled to depart Seattle (SEA) on 1/1 is now canceled in its entirety due to weather-related flooding in the area. For further assistance please call 1-800-USA-RAIL.
 

skylar

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 25, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Seattle, WA
thanks to the flooding in Sacramento, CA.. The train 14 nightmare.



View attachment 30954
Hopefully they've at least been able to muck out the bathrooms. It doesn't take long for those to get ripe.

Also, what does Amtrak do for food in these situations? Given that the last few times we've been on Amtrak the dining car has had supply problems even with everything else going right, my imagination turns to a Snowpiercer-like situation...
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
3,855
Location
SW ATL airport
Also, what does Amtrak do for food in these situations? Given that the last few times we've been on Amtrak the dining car has had supply problems even with everything else going right, my imagination turns to a Snowpiercer-like situation...
Amtrak should have trucked food from Oakland. Oh , wait that would be a cost.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,903
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
Hopefully they've at least been able to muck out the bathrooms. It doesn't take long for those to get ripe.

Also, what does Amtrak do for food in these situations? Given that the last few times we've been on Amtrak the dining car has had supply problems even with everything else going right, my imagination turns to a Snowpiercer-like situation...
Dinty Moore Beef Stew for everybody, including coach passengers, if a delay extends into a 2nd meal period. It may be served over rice to stretch it. They also have snack packs to hand out for the 1st meal period.
 
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