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|APRIL 28, 1998||
EASTERN RAILROAD NEWS
Last week when we reported that the Lurgan Branch would be shut down between 07:00 and 15:00 ET, several trains reportedly rolled through. Both yesterday and today, nothing but maintenance is operating over the Lurgan Branch and Hagerstown Secondary. The WPST locat out of Shiremanstown made a run to CP-Ross, just north of the work area and cleared up before 13:00 ET. Upon the WPST crew clearing up, TV-211 was brought across the river from CP-Capital to hold until 15:00 ET at Ross. The crew advised that on only two separate occasions last week did anything move over the Lurgan within the curfew. -Kevin Burkholder
SD70MAC's MAKE IT TO ALLENTOWN!
Now the headline may not
sound like anything out of the ordinary, but operations of the SD70MAC
have been anything but ordinary. With the SD70MAC's lack of cab signals,
their service has been restricted to territroy without cab signal requirements.
4130 and 4131 were the trailing two units of ENS-102 that set out the pair
at 21:15 ET in Allentown. The MAC's were assigned to ALSE-8 departing
Allentown at 06:35 ET.-Kevin Burkholder, Rob Palmer
|4130||Allentown, PA||4/28/98||10:15 ET||ALSE-8|
|4131||Allentown, PA||4/28/98||10:15 ET||ALSE-8|
|4132||Elkhart, IN||4/28/98||10:00 CT||ELIN-8B|
|4133||Elkhart, IN||4/28/98||10:00 CT||ELIN-8B|
|4134||Crestline, OH||4/26/98||16:40 ET||HELD|
|4135||Crestline, OH||4/26/98||16:40 ET||HELD|
|4136||Buffalo-Frontier, NY||4/28/98||11:03 ET||PINF-7|
|4137||Buffalo-Frontier, NY||4/28/98||11:03 ET||PINF-7|
YARD POWER OVERHAUL
Conrail will begin an overhaul project shortly that will involve 12 SD38 mother/slug sets and 28 other "yard" units. The overhaul program will be taking place at Altoona, PA. No definitive engine numbers have been given but units should be cycled to Altoona in the next few weeks. -Andy Kirk
OCS TRAIN BUSY WEEK
You can also view the Office Car Specials on tap for all of this week:
Amtrak ridership increased nearly six percent and on-time performance systemwide improved to nearly 83 percent for the first three months of the year, continuing positive trends that developed last year.
During those months, Amtrak's second quarter (January-March), more than 4.7 million passengers traveled on Amtrak trains, an increase of 5.8 percent compared to the same period last year. When combining first quarter (October-December) and second quarter results, more than 10 million passengers traveled on Amtrak during the first half of the railroad's fiscal year, representing a 6.4 percent increase compared to the first half of FY 1997. This occurred despite falling gasoline prices that have reduced the cost of driving, which is Amtrak's chief competition in many markets.
Key factors igniting the increase include on-time performance, improved service delivery and grassroots marketing that focused on customer needs of individual markets.
For the first three months of calendar year 1998, Amtrak's systemwide on-time performance rose more than five percent from the same period a year ago to 82.8 percent. When combining the first quarter and second quarter results, Amtrak's on-time performance for the first half of the fiscal year has increased nearly five percent to 80.5 percent.
Amtrak is organized under three strategic business units. Below are highlights for each.
The Philadelphia-based Amtrak Northeast Corridor business unit, encompassing service from New England to Virginia, experienced an 8.8 percent ridership increase for the second quarter and an 8.4 percent increase for the first half of Amtrak's fiscal year. The top ridership performers in the second quarter were the Empire Service in Upstate New York up 8.8 percent and Keystone/Clocker Service in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York City up 23.8 percent. NortheastDirect Service between Boston, New York, Washington, Richmond and Newport News, Va., -- which accounts for one in every four Amtrak riders -- increased 7.2 percent.
The Chicago-based Amtrak Intercity business unit, which operates most of the corporation's long-distance train service as well as short-distance service in the Midwest and Southeast, posted a 4.8 percent ridership increase in the second quarter, and a three percent increase for the first half of Amtrak's fiscal year.
For the second quarter, the top long-distance performers were the Chicago-New Orleans City of New Orleans up 27 percent; the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder up 17.4 percent; and the New York-Miami Silver Palm up 12.2 percent.
The top short-distance performers were the Missouri Mules up 27 percent; the Chicago-Quincy Illinois Zephyr up 17.3 percent; and the Chicago-Carbondale Illini up 9.8 percent.
The Oakland-based Amtrak West business unit, operating state-supported corridor services and the long-distance Coast Starlight in California, Oregon and Washington, experienced a 2.7 percent ridership decrease in the second quarter. Severe winter weather in February and March caused significant operational problems in California, forcing Amtrak to cancel many services for extended periods. Despite the challenges, fiscal year-to-date ridership for Amtrak West is up 4.9 percent.
HISTORIC AMTRAK STATION REOPENS IN SEBRING, FLA.
Amtrak customers in Sebring, Fla., are now served at a fully renovated station that recognizes the history of the 74-year-old building while meeting the needs of today’s rail traveling public. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony today, Amtrak officials thanked the City of Sebring Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which used nearly $800,000 in local, state, federal and Amtrak funds to rehabilitate the building at 601 East Center Street.
“We appreciate the many years of community effort expended to renew the station, which serves as Sebring’s ‘front door’ for both local customers and passengers from throughout the region,” said Al Edelston, the Florida-based Amtrak general manager responsible for the three daily round-trip trains that serve Sebring.
“We are thankful for the patience of our customers during the seven months of construction and grateful for the 15 years of CRA’s work in making this improvement a reality,” Edelston said.
“The renovated station not only benefits the City of Sebring and Highlands County, it serves as the principle access point for Amtrak throughout Southwest Florida,” said Peter Pollard, CRA Executive Director. “We are very pleased with the renovation and the partnership we have with Amtrak to provide rail service in Sebring well into the next century from the historic Sebring station.”
The Sebring station is illustrative of the cooperative efforts on the part of Amtrak and its state and local partners needed to provide safe and attractive rail passenger facilities. Insufficient Amtrak capital funding has historically necessitated teamwork with communities, local and state governments and property owners in the undertaking of station improvements.
The project included a complete renovation of the structure, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1989. The primary funding source was the Florida Department of Transportation, using federal funds from the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) as recommended by the Highlands County Board of Commissioners.
“State and local cooperation, using ISTEA funds, can provide better transportation facilities,” Edelston said. “This is another example why the Congressional reauthorization and funding of ISTEA are so important. This project had been on the drawing boards for 15 years, but the availability of ISTEA funds made the station improvement a reality.”
Although passenger trains are frequently thought of in terms of the growth of the western U.S., they also played a large part in the settlement of south and central Florida. Ohio native George Sebring used rail lines to sell potential residents on the community he purchased and had platted in 1911, incorporating by the time the first railroad arrived two years later. In 1913, the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) was the first railway to reach Sebring. The Seaboard Air Line (SAL) railroad reached Sebring in 1924. The city, its founder and the railroads were full participants in the Florida land “boom” in the early 20s. The station was built in 1924, near the height of the land rush, in the Spanish revival style favored by Sebring. Both the ACL and the SAL are predecessors of today’s CSX Transportation, the former owner of the Sebring station and the owner of the tracks Amtrak uses to serve Sebring. Amtrak assumed ownership of the station property from CSX in 1990 and has contributed in excess of $10,000 toward maintaining and improving the station. An historic preservation grant from the Florida Department of State also helped to stabilize the station for rehabilitation
Sebring is served daily by Amtrak Silver Service trains: the New York-Raleigh-Orlando-Miami Silver Star, the New York-Charleston-Orlando-Miami Silver Meteor and the New York-Charleston-Tampa-Miami Silver Palm. Amtrak ridership at Sebring exceeded 14,000 passengers in 1997. The Sebring station is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 6:15 p.m. -Amtrak
The much awaited and anticipated Café Car Service will debut during PM service on Monday, May 4. Emblazoned with the moniker "Café Express" the car will begin service on trains #301/304. This will be the first of four cars to be rolled out. The second car will begin service in the morning Monday, May 11 on #306/307. The new vendor, On Board Services, has been working hard finding just the right mix of coffee, juices, pastries and sundries to tempt the palates of VRE passengers' - and best of all eating on the train won't cost you an arm and a leg!
Café Express will begin service on the Fredericksburg Line May 4. Manassas Line service is expected to begin in mid-summer. We have been conducting market research with our VRE Rider's Forum about café car service, and while the research is ongoing, it is apparent that the common sense approach - the café cars will sell and serve the most passengers if we add them to the most popular trains - is the best. However, VRE cannot run more than a six car set without significantly increasing its costs, therefore, in order to add the café car to a six car train (like 301/304) the café car will replace an existing coach. Since #306/307 is a five car set, no cars will need to be removed to add the café car. With passenger loads increasing daily, we will be closely monitoring the capacity. If the café car causes excessive crowding (it comfortably holds about 80% of a normal Budd car load) VRE and On Board Services will make "consist" (train make-up) changes. Another line of thought is that adding a car to a less popular train might boost ridership on it-we will also be trying and evaluating this approach. (Note that trains are made up in sets that run in the AM as one number and the PM as another. Once a "consist" is made up the cars go with the pairings. For example AM train #322 becomes #321, then becomes #332, and then in the PM becomes #331. A café car added to this route would be on all these trains.
Several good questions
have been raised by the Rider's Forum. Below are the answers to a few of
their thoughts...The food purchased in the café car can be consumed
anywhere on the train. (Yes, passengers can still
bring their own too)....FOR SAFETY PURPOSES ALL BEVERAGES MUST HAVE LIDS... There will be no alcoholic beverages served at the request of our Operations Board.... Cars are cleaned twice daily - so litter will not be a problem...The service is designed to be self sustaining -ticket prices will not be increased if the vendor is not successful...Fredericksburg line was chosen first because of logistical considerations... Menus will be posted on either end of the car and also published in an upcoming seat notice.
Please do NOT cross the tracks at the Fredericksburg Station. If the VRE train arrives on a different track than normal, it will wait while you cross under the station. Due to the curves on the tracks trains cannot see you as they arrive in Fredericksburg. Recently Amtrak 84 had to "go into Emergency" (slam on the brakes) to avoid hitting a VRE passenger crossing over. Accidents can be prevented. Please do your part! Thanks!
|Please check this location daily, as new information will be posted, as it becomes available. If you have news to report or information regarding railroads in the Eastern United States, please send e-mail to Kevin Burkholder at KBurkholder@psghs.edu|
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