Worst delay Amtrak has ever had?

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GlobalistPotato

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Okay, so many of us would say that a delay of 9 hours is VERY LATE, but before 2006, that wasn't too uncommon on some of the LD routes.

I've heard that during the SP-UP meltdown of the late '90s, there was a Sunset Limited train that arrived 36 HOURS LATE into Los Angeles. Of course, this was before the schedule was super-padded.

And of course there was the infamous 18 hours late CZ that was called the "train from hell".

But what has been the single largest delay an Amtrak train has EVER had? And when?

(By comparison, I've seen that Southwest Airlines largest delay ever was 15 hours late.)
 

Michael061282

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The most I ever had was a 17 hour late eastbound Empire Builder in 1992 or 93 in the dead of winter. Everything froze up solid on the train, we had no toilet no running water no anything. Every station from about Havre east stop became a full 30-45 minute stop so that everyone on the train could get off and "use the facilities". Also for dinner leaving Grand Forks or Fargo, someone took mercy on the poor dining crew and ordered KFC for the entire train. Being 11 or 12 I thought it the whole experience was the most awesome thing ever. I was about the only one though.
 

alang

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Literally followed yesterdays CZ #5 in today's CZ #5 in the summer of 2009. An accident in Illinois created a 24 hour delay. Trains turned around in Reno, bustitution into Martinez, CA. (We were actually 3 hours early.) CZ #5 in summer of 2006 was 8 hours late. Not that late for this post; but, unfortunately a death on the train in Nevada contributed to this delay (as well as a drunk passenger trying to jump off of the train between Winnemucca and Reno.) My first trip in 25 years was an experience! Remember, the train is the vacation. Ah, the stories we could tell.
 

Mackensen

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The most I ever had was a 17 hour late eastbound Empire Builder in 1992 or 93 in the dead of winter. Everything froze up solid on the train, we had no toilet no running water no anything. Every station from about Havre east stop became a full 30-45 minute stop so that everyone on the train could get off and "use the facilities". Also for dinner leaving Grand Forks or Fargo, someone took mercy on the poor dining crew and ordered KFC for the entire train. Being 11 or 12 I thought it the whole experience was the most awesome thing ever. I was about the only one though.
10 bucks says all the candidates involve the Builder! I was on a westbound train a few years back which managed to combine the following mishaps: bad-ordered coach in Chicago, diner with malfunctioning refrigeration, Genesis with a bad axle, and frozen tracks in North Dakota (this was early January). We would up being at least 12 hours late into Spokane where the train was annulled and we were bussed to our final destinations. The return train got canceled outright because of mudslides (sound familiar)? Still a great trip though...
 

zephyr17

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The most I ever had was a 17 hour late eastbound Empire Builder in 1992 or 93 in the dead of winter. Everything froze up solid on the train, we had no toilet no running water no anything. Every station from about Havre east stop became a full 30-45 minute stop so that everyone on the train could get off and "use the facilities". Also for dinner leaving Grand Forks or Fargo, someone took mercy on the poor dining crew and ordered KFC for the entire train. Being 11 or 12 I thought it the whole experience was the most awesome thing ever. I was about the only one though.
I think that 36 hour late Sunset has to be the record where the train was not annulled.

My own personal worst was a 13 hour late Empire Builder into Chicago. It was the first train through after a blizzard, and the operating crew was not in position in Minot, so we just sat in Minot. Then there was an ice storm and we crept at least from Grand Forks to Fargo at a very restricted speed (under 25), I think because the signals were out. We arrived Chicago at about 3am.
 

Grandpa D

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On the very late subject, I noticed that the CZ 6(20) has been running 11+ hours late. But the 6(21) train is almost on time. Has a train ever been so late the the next days train has caught up with it? :eek:hboy:
 

the_traveler

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Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
Although it wasn't as late as those earlier, I was on the Cardinal that arrived into CVS "on time" at 2:47. The only thing was it was 2:47 AM, not the scheduled 2:47 PM!
ohmy.gif
 
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I wasn't on the train, but I recall a westbound Empire Builder departing Spokane at around 5:30 PM in November of 1996. I don't know if it was bound for Seattle or Portland, but at that rate it was 14 1/2 to 15 hours late.
 

fairviewroad

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Two winters ago I was in GFK waiting for a west-bound EB...and the station agent noted to us that the east-bound train, which is due

at GFK at 12:57 a.m., wasn't due in until 11 p.m...a full 22 hours late. (The explanation was that it experienced "engine problems")

Our train's 6 1/2 hour delay paled in comparison.

Sure enough, somewhere near Williston we sat on a siding and watched the #8 go by. Just a few hours later near Shelby we watched the next #8 go

by, a mere 3 hours late. We eventually arrived in PDX a full 8 1/2 hours late.

(That being said, I've had an 8-hour delay on United Airlines flying ORD-LAX, and have also had the experience of United canceling a Christmas-season flight and

telling me the next available seat was 3 days later...)
 

had8ley

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The most I ever had was a 17 hour late eastbound Empire Builder in 1992 or 93 in the dead of winter. Everything froze up solid on the train, we had no toilet no running water no anything. Every station from about Havre east stop became a full 30-45 minute stop so that everyone on the train could get off and "use the facilities". Also for dinner leaving Grand Forks or Fargo, someone took mercy on the poor dining crew and ordered KFC for the entire train. Being 11 or 12 I thought it the whole experience was the most awesome thing ever. I was about the only one though.
10 bucks says all the candidates involve the Builder! I was on a westbound train a few years back which managed to combine the following mishaps: bad-ordered coach in Chicago, diner with malfunctioning refrigeration, Genesis with a bad axle, and frozen tracks in North Dakota (this was early January). We would up being at least 12 hours late into Spokane where the train was annulled and we were bussed to our final destinations. The return train got canceled outright because of mudslides (sound familiar)? Still a great trip though...
I'll take that ten spot please....I rode a three DAY late Sunset from NOL to Orlando (Winter Park)in the mid-90's. It was an equipment move but there were six pax. :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

Anderson

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Eastern trains can and do miss connections. I had a particularly bad one the first time I went out to IA: We got slammed with lake-effect snow at Buffalo and the train was just short of stopped. I woke up in Cleveland (usually I get up somewhere around Toledo when heading that way), and the train was losing more and more time...we finally got into CHI about an hour after the Zephyr was supposed to leave (and as I understand it, they came close to holding it, but I think there was enough snow on the ground that they couldn't manage the hold).

Since I had the time "built in" to my schedule (I'd left a few days before Christmas to allow for something to go wrong), I was fine...I often tell people that I got a night on the town in Chicago on the railroad (true in the sense that they subsidized a very nice dinner for me...I basically split the check at the John Hancock Center with Amtrak via the cash they gave me for meals), and I got to meet a longtime friend for lunch to boot.
 
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railiner

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I think I remember one that may have been close to that late Sunset. Years ago, I used to get printouts of Amtrak's "Morning Report", a summary of operations that was posted in the Arrow operations subject.

In one of those infamous midwestern winters in the late '70's, there was a line in the report titled: "No. 51 is at Nero Tower".

It seems they had lost contact some how with that train in a particulary nasty blizzard somewhere between Cincinnati and Chicago. It had not been heard from for a very long time. Finally, it made its way to Nero Tower and was reported...over a day late!
 
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One time returning from Eugene Oregon, the train(Coast Starlight train 11) got to Oakridge (around 7:00pm). We stopped there. There was a big problem with a freight train ahead of us. (could have been a broken rail). We finally left there around 2:00am the next day. They stopped the train at San Luis Obispo at 2:00am the next day. Rode the first Pacific Surfliner of the morning (around 6:00am). Got to Los Angeles at 12:00 Noon one full day late.
 
T

Tony

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I've heard that during the SP-UP meltdown of the late '90s, there was a Sunset Limited train that arrived 36 HOURS LATE into Los Angeles. Of course, this was before the schedule was super-padded.
I was on a north bound Silver, when both of them were delayed for over 24 hours. The people in Coach were on their cell phones with CNN, complaining about how they were starving (too cheap to buy Dining Car food) and that they successfully plugged up all the toilets.
 
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Just arrived to our destination on the Empire Builder... arrived 6.5 hours late, But I still enjoyed every minute of it. Even sitting still for 2 hours waiting on a propane spill clean-up!
 

GlobalistPotato

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Well, there's another train that came close to that one Sunset Limited in terms of lateness.



#6 California Zephyr. Winter is hard in the Sierras. Apparently there were two cases of broken rails that delayed the train. Train was delayed 33 1/2 hours into Chicago.
ohmy.gif


Now what is up with people on extremely delayed trains clogging up the toilets?
 
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D

dave a

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I am currently aboard a westbound empire builder bound for portland. We are at least 11 hours behind schedule thanks to a broken bnsf freight near shelby and consecutive crews timing out. The seattle branch was bustituted from spokane. Those connecting with the southbound starlight are on a 9.5 hour bus ride to klamath falls. I dare not call julie for the latest word.
 

Anderson

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I think I heard a story of a Sunset, running cross-country at one point (I believe it was some sort of nominally-scheduled test run or de facto equipment move with about ten people onboard), that came in three days late; I think it might have been something done to deal with a pile-up of annulled trains at the peak of the UP-SP mess. Can anyone confirm this story?

As to the CZ, I do remember a story of one that, due to a rockslide/avalanche in the Rockies, had to be backed out to Denver because of blocked tracks. I think that one ran about 24 hours behind if it wasn't annulled outright.
 
C

Crystal

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I am currently aboard a westbound empire builder bound for portland. We are at least 11 hours behind schedule thanks to a broken bnsf freight near shelby and consecutive crews timing out. The seattle branch was bustituted from spokane. Those connecting with the southbound starlight are on a 9.5 hour bus ride to klamath falls. I dare not call julie for the latest word.
I was supposed to board that train here in Havre at 1:30, but it's going to be eight hours late. Not particularly happy... I guess I get to go swimming and see Rise of the Planet of the Apes, though. At least I didn't have to sit on the train! :) Friday's train out of Seattle was delayed four hours...Don't get me wrong -- I love rail travel and I'm even ok with delays, but I've been riding 10 years and I've only had one other delay. That was a DC to NYC that was three hours late -- there were people on that train that had to BE SOMEWHERE early evening in NYC. There was almost a riot.
 
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AlanB

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I think I heard a story of a Sunset, running cross-country at one point (I believe it was some sort of nominally-scheduled test run or de facto equipment move with about ten people onboard), that came in three days late; I think it might have been something done to deal with a pile-up of annulled trains at the peak of the UP-SP mess. Can anyone confirm this story?

As to the CZ, I do remember a story of one that, due to a rockslide/avalanche in the Rockies, had to be backed out to Denver because of blocked tracks. I think that one ran about 24 hours behind if it wasn't annulled outright.
There were several regular runs of the Sunset that came in 2 to 3 days late several years back. And in many of those cases the train got terminated in New Orleans, with people being bused to points further east. Some of those incidents happened even after Amtrak added 10 1/2 hours of padding to the schedule so as to improve things.
 

had8ley

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I think I heard a story of a Sunset, running cross-country at one point (I believe it was some sort of nominally-scheduled test run or de facto equipment move with about ten people onboard), that came in three days late; I think it might have been something done to deal with a pile-up of annulled trains at the peak of the UP-SP mess. Can anyone confirm this story?

As to the CZ, I do remember a story of one that, due to a rockslide/avalanche in the Rockies, had to be backed out to Denver because of blocked tracks. I think that one ran about 24 hours behind if it wasn't annulled outright.
I was one of the six pax on board. Train was 72' 33" late departing NOL and I got off in Winter Park 78'01" late. The equipment move didn't even make an on time departure on the turn back to NOL.
 

ScottC4746

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*** AS NOTED, THIS THREAD IS OVER 2 YEARS OLD ***

Ok so I found this old thread and someone posted about a 36 hour late Sunset. Does anyone recall that one and why?
 
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AlanB

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Actually there were more than a few occasions where the Sunset Limited was that late and later. So much so that it was annuled in New Orleans, so that they could turn it on time to go back to LA. Passengers were bused from NOL to points east and vice-versa. This of course was before Katrina and before the 10.5 hours of padding that Amtrak added to the schedule back in the early 2000's.

This was largely due to UP's meltdown when they found themselves without enough engineers to actually run all of the trains that they needed to run. And this was before they started double tracking the Sunset line.
 
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