Happening Now

Hotline #1,099

January 11, 2019

UP Maintenance to Disrupt Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle; DeFazio to Lead House T&I Committee; Amtrak Issues RFQ for Washington Union Station; Amtrak Looking Into Gov. Cuomo’s New L Train Plan For East River Tunnels; Trinity Metro’s TEXRail Opens

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Disruption on the Sunset

By Jim Mathews, Rail Passengers President and CEO

There’s a truism in official Washington: always release bad news late on Friday. And that’s just what happened last Friday, when Trains News Wire reported that Union Pacific track work would suddenly disrupt Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle schedules -- including eliminating one weekly Sunset round trip.

Rail Passengers members and ticketed passengers alike were pretty steamed over the weekend, as well they should be. Work will get started on the tracks between San Antonio and El Paso on January 17th, and is scheduled to wrap up on March 9th. This means passengers only got 13 days’ notice that their train is being annulled.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Trains News Wire that Amtrak only finalized the operating agreement with Union Pacific last week.

We all understand the need for continuous track maintenance. I applaud it. There are parts of the U.S. rail network where it feels more like riding a horse-drawn buggy over cobblestones than a modern rail route. But Union Pacific did the fare-paying passengers no favors by pushing this with virtually no notice. Rail Passengers will be working with the communities along the Sunset route to ensure that they are aware of this service disruption.

On the other hand, it’s heartening to see work continue to improve the rails our members ride so long as the disruption is temporary and the trains are restored -- as was the case in the Northeast Corridor and the Cardinal in 2018. We also hope that this will allow for restoration of the daily Sunset.

For its part Amtrak says it will rebook affected passengers on the Sunset and Eagle for no charge.

Amtrak also announced that the Crescent will not run daily between Atlanta and New Orleans from January 7th to February 14th. Service will terminate in Atlanta Monday through Thursday, but will operate across the full route on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This is due to planned annual track work by Norfolk Southern. Substitute bus service will be provided to all stations during the cancellation periods.

As a service, we thought we’d summarize the disruptions below. We’ll keep a close eye on both track projects to make sure passengers aren’t left in the cold any more than necessary.

  • Sunset Limited – Jan. 20 - March 9

    • Reduced from three weekly round trips to two round trips

    • No westbound departure from New Orleans on Mondays

    • No westbound trains for a three-day span

    • No eastbound train leaving from Los Angeles on Sundays

    • No eastbound service for a four-day period

    • Wednesday and Friday departures from Los Angeles Union Station pushed forward to 7:26 p.m. from 10 p.m., thus break

    • Accommodates lengthened schedule between El Paso and San Antonio, maintains connection with the Eagle

    • Breaks connection with the arriving Coast Starlight

    • Wednesday and Friday arrivals at Los Angeles pushed back three hours to 8:40 a.m.

  • Texas Eagle – Jan. 20 - March 9

    • Through cars that depart Chicago on Sundays will terminate at San Antonio instead of Los Angeles.

  • Crescent – Jan. 7 - Feb. 14

    • Train service reduced from daily round trips to three round trips per week between Atlanta and New Orleans. Monday through Thursday departures from Atlanta and New Orleans are cancelled. Friday, Saturday & Sunday trains will operated as normally scheduled.

    • Substitute Thruway bus service will be provided between all stations from Atlanta to New Orleans on the four days the trains will not operate.

    • The Crescent will continue to operate daily between New York and Atlanta.

And, an important Southwest Chief Update:

Rail Passengers has confirmed that Amtrak will be providing matching funds for a $9.2 million federal CRISI grant to install Positive Train Control on the Southwest Chief.

The grant was awarded to the Colorado and Kansas Departments of Transportation, in partnership with Amtrak and BNSF. It will fund the design, installation, and testing of PTC wayside technology on about 179 miles of a predominantly single-track route between Dodge City, KS, and Las Animas, CO.

This is an extremely welcome change of policy, given Amtrak’s 2018 refusal to provide its $3 million match for the $16 million TIGER grant awarded to the Southwest Chief restoration project. We still have no update on the status of Amtrak’s match for this grant, but rest assured that Rail Passengers will continue to press the railroad on this important issue.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has been elected as the new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. DeFazio has been a committee member since 1987, when he was first elected to Congress. Most recently he served as the Committee’s ranking member since 2015, and was able to move into the role of Chairman after the Democrats took control of the House.

“We are approaching a transportation crisis in our country, and with that in mind, I am especially honored to have the strong support of my colleagues to lead the caucus as the new Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,” DeFazio said in a press release.

DeFazio also said that he “will be a tireless advocate for the kind of infrastructure investment that results in job creation, increased economic growth, and decreased emissions” and that he “will work to build bipartisan agreement around legislation that strengthens the Federal responsibility for maintaining and providing access to transportation for all Americans.”

What will be important now is how DeFazio and the Committee work with President Trump on infrastructure through 2019. In November, DeFazio said he wants to push a massive infrastructure and transportation bill forward to benefit the U.S.

“Rep. DeFazio understands the true transit needs of U.S. commuters, as well as the investment required to bring the nation’s infrastructure into the 21st Century,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews. “We look forward to meeting and working with DeFazio to ensure that Congress is well-aware of the challenges facing passenger rail in the U.S., and the best ways to address them.”

Rail Passengers Track Update: Where are we and what’re we working on? This new section will give you updates on what Rail Passengers HQ is up to.

Jim Mathews, Rail Passengers President and CEO, split his time among many competing tasks this week, working with Abe Zumwalt to finalize our economic impact report on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, reviewing the results of membership-development focus groups with our marketing partner, and sorting fact from fiction to find out more about how Union Pacific thumbed its nose at Amtrak passengers with its abrupt move to disrupt the Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle for seven weeks of track work.

Sean Jeans-Gail, Rail Passengers Vice President of Government Affairs, attended meetings on the Hill to introduce Rail Passengers 2019 legislative plan to Congressional staffers, as well as preparing materials for February’s Council fly-in day. Sean has also worked with Rail Passengers’ Council to formulate a response to the sudden suspension of the Sunset Limited.

Rail Passengers Director of Policy Research, Abe Zumwalt, is gearing up to attend the Transportation Research Board’s 2019 meeting all next week, on the heels of wrapping up work surrounding the release of Rail Passengers’ most recent white paper “Bustituted: The Socioeconomic Impacts of Replacing Southwest Chief Service Over Raton Pass.” He is also assisting Sean with preparing materials for February’s Council fly-in day.

Rail Passengers Northeast Field Coordinator, Joseph Aiello met with Transit Matters Regional Rail team lead, and Rail Passengers member, Ethan Finlan this week. There are some very exciting things coming from them and Joe is happy to be able to help out in any way possible. He was recently asked by a City Councillor in Cambridge, MA to apply to be on the design working group for the Grand Junction Greenway, a multi-use path running alongside existing rail tracks stretching from the BU Bridge to Somerville. If chosen, Joe is hoping to bring his transportation knowledge to the project – and help protect the current tracks in the process.

In the coming weeks, Joe is looking forward to the MBTA holding a public hearing to unveil the station designs for the Green Line Extension (a project Joe has been closely involved in for a number of years) as well as making it down to D.C. in early February.

Happy New Year! Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs for Rail Passengers, has been catching up and getting back in the swing of things after a spending holiday time with family. January and February dates have been scheduled for Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee (ACAC) Customer Service Award presentations to on-board and station personnel in Los Angeles and New Orleans. Cokley is now awaiting confirmations for March and April presentations in Miami and New York City. She has also been working on setting up the Passenger Travel Review that will be available to everyone very soon.

Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Vice-President of Operations, has started off the New Year by assisting with the release of the Association’s Southwest Chief Impact Report, in addition to addressing a variety of membership and communication-related logistics. He continues to coordinate the Association’s upcoming 2019 events, including the upcoming RailNation Washington Advocacy Summit, Day On The Hill & Congressional Reception, March 31 - April 3 (Registration is NOW open!) and this fall’s RailNation California gathering in Sacramento (October 18 - 21), where the Sheraton Grand Sacramento has been confirmed as the host hotel location.

New York City subway passengers may avoid a 15-month commuting nightmare as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) considers adopting an innovative--though largely untested--maintenance strategy for the L Train. The original plan called for a complete shutdown of the line for at least 15 months to allow maintenance crews to restore the L Train tunnel under the East River.

The MTA had planned to shut down the line for repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a new plan that incorporates recommendations from a panel of engineering experts at Columbia University and Cornell University that said a complete closure of the L Train Tunnel was unnecessary.

An analysis by the engineers found that repairs could be conducted on nights and weekends, using a new innovative design that could be used to repair the Canarsie Tunnel used by the L train. The design would use a different method of repairing cables, which would keep the tunnel’s capabilities intact and allow a single tube to provide service in both directions during work periods over a 15 to 20-month timeframe.

The L Train Project will involve rebuilding the L Train Tunnel after it experienced significant corrosion from saltwater flooding the tunnel during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Work includes:

  • Constructing new power substations;

  • Storm and flooding resiliency measures; and

  • Station improvements, such as providing ADA accessibility and other capacity upgrades at the Bedford Avenue Station in Brooklyn and the 1st and 6th Avenue Stations in Manhattan.

MTA officials are considering Cuomo’s proposal, but first want to vet the plan before making a decision. The review will be led by NYC Transit President Andy Byford.

Amtrak engineers have also started to review the analysis provided on the L Train Tunnel, and could be interested in potentially applying the design technique to the East River tunnels that were also damaged by Sandy. The tunnels link Penn Station to Long Island City and are used by Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit.

Amtrak had been planning to demolish the interiors of two East River tunnels down to the concrete liner to rebuild their components in a construction job similar to the original L train plan. However, Amtrak may reconsider that plan if the new L Train design method can be used instead.

Amtrak will first have to conduct a deeper review of the new plan, before any decisions are made Amtrak chairman Anthony Coscia said.

“It is important for us to do a thorough vetting so that we can determine now at this stage whether it’s a methodology that we could use,” Coscia said. “Because if it is, it will make the process far less painful to our travelers.”

Amtrak does not expect to be able to use the plan for the Hudson River tunnels however. The Hudson River tunnels did not receive as much flood damage during Sandy, but due to their age, are experiencing severe structural damage.

Amtrak and MTA officials will be meeting with the new L Train project engineers today at the railroad’s East River tunnels.

North Carolina Sees a Future Built on Rail

By Sean Jeans-Gail

While it is commonly asserted that passenger rail only makes sense in the Northeast, there are dozens of thriving and soon-to-be rail systems around the U.S. that prove otherwise.

Durham, North Carolina is just one such example, boasting what will be a heavily utilized GoTriangle light rail service for thousands of local residents.

For more on our thoughts about GoTriangle, please visit our new blog: www.railpassengers.org/happening-now/news/blog/north-carolina-sees-a-future-built-on-rail.

The commuter rail car deal between Bombardier Transportation and New Jersey Transit has been made official by Bombardier. NJ Transit first announced the order in December 2018, but Bombardier said it hadn’t signed the official contract until this month. NJ Transit’s $669 million purchase includes 113 Multilevel III commuter rail cars, with options for up to 886 additional cars.

“We are privileged to have been a partner with NJ TRANSIT since 1980 and are pleased to have this opportunity to continue to work together as NJ TRANSIT embarks on its comprehensive initiative to improve the customer experience,” Elliot G. (Lee) Sander, President, Americas Region, Bombardier Transportation said in a press release.

The new cars will make there way into service in 2023, and they will replace NJ Transit’s older cars, including the 1970’s 160 Arrow III EMU (electric multiple-unit) cars.

Bombardier said the new cars will include a range of new features, including:

  • color infotainment screens that display real-time information about stations and connections;

  • USB charging ports located at comfortable 2x2 seats;

  • an onboard video surveillance system for increased security;

  • wider vestibules for improved wheelchair accessibility;

  • new bicycle racks;

  • an intelligent LED lighting system with automatic brightness control; and

  • motorized restroom doors for easier access for all passengers.

The cars will also have Positive Train Control equipment installed for increased passenger safety.


Rail Passengers’ new partnership with MemberDeals will give members access to exclusive savings on movie tickets, theme parks, hotels, rental cars, tours, Broadway and Vegas shows and more through the members only area of the Rail Passengers website. Be sure to check back often as new products and discounts are constantly being added!

Whether you are from Bakersfield, Bismarck or Boston, Rail Passengers and MemberDeals have you covered! Our MemberDeals partnership covers venues, services and attractions throughout the country...take a look to see where there might be savings on fun outings near you!

Remember, if you want to use these great internet-only discounts, you must be a member in good standing AND be logged in to the Rail Passengers website. If you need help accessing these discounts email us at [email protected], or call the office at 202-408-8362.

Amtrak has made three significant changes in leadership to kickoff 2019.

  • Roger Harris was named Amtrak’s Vice President of Long Distance Service Line. In his new role, Harris is responsible for the business performance of Amtrak’s routes of 750 miles or more between endpoints.

  • Robert Jordan was named Amtrak’s Assistant Vice President of Stations. This is a new position at Amtrak and Jordan is responsible for the day-to-day operations and customer experience at more than 500 stations on the national network.

  • Bruno Maestri was named Amtrak’s Vice President of Government Affairs and Corporate Communications. Maestri is responsible for securing Amtrak’s annual funding through Congress, and for enhancing and protecting Amtrak’s reputation and brand with key stakeholders.

All three new VPs are based at Amtrak Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Harris and Jordan will start their new roles later this month, and Maestri will start his role in March.

Stories That Make a Difference: Grassroots Rail Advocacy

By Carolyn Cokley

Advocacy is defined as an activity by an individual or group which aims to influence decisions within political, economic and social systems and institutions. Advocacy can include many activities that a person or organization undertakes including media campaigns, public speaking, publishing research, conducting exit polls or the filing of an amicus brief.

But, what happens when, you withdraw from and are not a part of that public voice, or you feel that you are not equipped to launch a public media campaign. How do you gather friends, neighbors and other advocates (while they may not know if yet) to rally behind the cause that is equally important to them?

This week a story was shared with us concerning how one of our long-standing members started out as a rail advocate.

To read more about this story, please visit our blog.

Riders of the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line will soon be able to utilize the new North Terminal located at the 95th/Dan Ryan Station. The $280 million modern terminal is the second of two bus and rail facilities that are replacing the original 50-year-old terminal. The first was the new South Terminal, which is already opened. CTA said that the station is essential to the Red Line as it connects south side communities to job centers throughout the region, and serving as a transit gateway for the south side and suburbs.

"The Red Line and the bus routes served by this transit hub will provide customers with expanded passenger facilities, new amenities, and safer passenger access to buses and trains," CTA President Dorval Carter said in a press release.

Features of the North Terminal include:

  • A bright and airy mezzanine with a skylight and clerestory;

  • New service and directional signage;

  • Safer pedestrian walkways to bus pickup areas and the rail terminal;

  • More turnstiles and Ventra vending machines; and

  • Additional bike racks, CTA Transit Tracker displays and high-definition cameras throughout

In addition, the North Terminal will include a first-of-its-kind radio station and DJ booth that will broadcast over the 95th Street station’s PA system.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s newly proposed budget would cut a $3 million annual subsidy from Amtrak’s Hoosier State Train. If the budget is approved, state money for the train would run out on June 30. Officials from the Indiana Department of Transportation say they would work with Amtrak to schedule an ending date for the service.

State lawmakers will have to decide whether to take up the governor’s shortsighted proposal. Rail Passengers will Indiana Passenger Rail to ensure that this important service receives the funds to

Due to a variety of issues, the New York City Transit Authority has been forced to remove its newest subway cars from service. Bombardier-made R179 rail cars have experienced problems with bolts, doors, propulsion, and air compressors. Cars have been pulled from service in order for the transit agency and Bombardier to conduct reviews and repairs.

At the end of 2018, 112 R179 rail cars were in service on the J/Z and C lines, while the rest of the cars in the 300-car order still need to be filled. Overall the agency found that there were 16 rail cars out of the 96 cars at the East New York yard that had defects. There were another 32 new cars in the transit system that had defects that forced them off the tracks.

Bombardier said that it has 50 full-time workers in New York working to repair the R179 cars.


We are now asking you to submit photos of #ViewsOnATrain. This could be of you preparing for your train journey; of your children admiring the view from a moving train; of the crowd waiting on a platform; or of you standing under the departures board at Grand Central.

Photos can be submitted via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter depicting your experience as “The Rail Passenger”. Rail Passengers Association executives will be judging the photos, and the winners’ images will be used as part of our new visual identity on our website, in our monthly newsletter, on social media, and more!

Grand prize winners will receive of 10,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards® points.

Runner-Up photos will also be awarded, including Rail Passengers gear.

When submitting your photos on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #ViewsOnATrain and tag @RailPassengers.

We can’t wait to see your submissions!

Amtrak has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) as the passenger railroad sets out to upgrade Washington Union Station in D.C. Specifically, Amtrak wants to hire a general contractor to upgrade the Claytor Concourse beginning this fall. The concourse is a highly trafficked area of the station as it connects people to the Virginia Railway Express and Maryland Area Regional Commuter Rail, and houses customer waiting areas, retail and food establishments, and customer amenities, such as restrooms.

Amtrak said modernization work will include:

  • Expanding the concourse to double its capacity to help reduce congestion;

  • Improving connectivity and access to commuter rail and bus services;

  • Enhancing the space with new architectural finishes and more natural light;

  • Adding new restrooms; and

  • Building a new Metropolitan Lounge (currently Club Acela) to offer customers a high-quality experience.

Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2019 and completed in 2022.

Time To Rip Off The Band-Aid

To Create Modern Transportation Systems, We All Must Make Some Hard Choices

Rail Passengers' Northeast Field Coordinator Joe Aiello says that it's time to "rip off the band-aid" when it comes to public transportation & infrastructure projects in his new blog.

"Sacrifices need to be made. Hardships will be endured. We will be late to work."

To read Joe’s blog in its entirety, please visit: www.railpassengers.org/happening-now/news/blog/time-to-rip-off-the-band-aid.

Downtown Roanoke, VA will become home for a new modern transit transfer facility that will host an Amtrak train station and bus service. The $2.185 million project took a major step forward after the City Council approved the purchase of property, along with the transfer of other properties, that the new facility will be built on. Right now only a platform exists for Amtrak riders who board or disembark at Roanoke, but the new plan calls for a completely new station. The city will close on the property, which is currently used for parking, on June 30 and design/engineering will begin in the fall. Construction will take place in 2020 and 2021. The city’s plan also includes the transfer of properties to allow for private redevelopment by Hist:Re Partners for a $25 million mixed-use project.

Clarification: The headline of the AIRNet-21 story (January Passengers Voice, page 3) should have read "AIRNet-21: A Different Approach to Amtrak." The actual headline, "Privatizing the Northeast Corridor," was not accurate, since ownership of the Corridor under AIRNet-21 would remain the property of the federal government, just like it is today. A private infrastructure management organization selected by the Surface Transportation Board would get a 50-year, revocable lease along with strict obligations to accomplish major and minor capital improvements, and to facilitate the operation of as many trains as is safe.

Community members in Chandler, AZ will be able to provide feedback to Valley Metro and city officials on two public transit studies. The public meetings will be held on January 23, 28 and 30 and the focus of each will be the Chandler Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and an alternate analysis (AA) study on Arizona Avenue. The TMP will help guide development and the implementation of new transportation infrastructure and operations in Chandler, while the AA study will evaluate high-capacity transit options to connect people from Arizona Avenue to the rest of the region. People who attend the meetings can hear from and share their thoughts with Valley Metro and city representatives.

Have You Ever Said ‘I Wish My Congressman Would Support Trains’? Well, Why Not Come To Washington This Spring To Make Your Voice Heard!

The dates are set for Rail Passengers’ RailNation: Washington 2019 Washington Advocacy Summit, Day on The Hill And Congressional Reception - Sunday, March 31st through Wednesday, April 3rd - and we hope to see YOU there! This year’s theme is: ‘Blueprint 2020: Be The Architect’

Rail Passengers meetings aren’t just for Council and Board Members...they’re for anybody who wants our country to invest in More Trains, Better Trains and a Commitment to Infrastructure. Whether you’ve been a member for decades or you’re brand-new to Rail Passengers...or even if you aren’t a member at all...you should come to Washington in March to make sure YOUR congressional representatives hear directly from YOU about rail and transportation!

We’re building informative sessions and hands-on workshops to make you a better advocate in your hometown. You won’t want to miss it.

The event agenda includes:

  • Sunday, March 31 - Afternoon Board Meeting

  • Monday, April 1 - Advocacy Summit Speakers, Presentations & Day on The Hill Prep

  • Tuesday, April 2 - Day on The Hill Visiting Congressional Offices & The Rail Passengers Annual Congressional Reception

  • Wednesday, April 3 - Rail Passengers Council Annual Business Meeting & Elections (Concluding By Noon)

There’s also a new Host Hotel for 2019...the Westin City Center at Thomas Circle (3 1/2 blocks from the Metro). Discounted Group Rate Room Reservations Are Now Available! Room supply is limited! Don’t miss out; make your reservation today!

Event Registration is NOW OPEN! Please visit the Event Page for complete information!

Other Upcoming Regional Rail Passenger & State Association Member Meetings and Other Events:

Please contact Bruce Becker to have a state or regional event or meeting added to the Rail Passengers calendar of upcoming events!

After delaying the start of service, Trinity Metro launched TEXRail commuter-rail service in Fort Worth, TX on January 10. The new service was set to begin on January 5, but TEXRail workers found a signal issue that caused the agency to delay train operations. Trinity Metro said that “the issue was caused by a hardware installation problem by our signal contractor," but that the issue has since been resolved. With the correction, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approved TEXRail for passenger service.

TEXRail will run along a 27-mile route between downtown Fort Worth and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The route includes Tarrant County, North Richland Hills and Grapevine, TX. Trinity Metro expects the line to carry 8,000 riders a day by the end of 2019 and 14,000 by 2035.

TEXRail will provide free rides for the month of January, and regular fares — $2.50 per trip or $5 for a day pass — start on February 1.

After being given the choice of relocating to Philadelphia for work or taking a severance check, about 100 Amtrak employees in Riverside, CA have decided to move. Amtrak gave the 500 employees at their Riverside call center the option of a job in Philly and a $15,000 relocation allowance, or a $10,000 severance payout before the facility closes on January 18. The Transportation Communications Union said 97 people will move to across the country to continue working for Amtrak. For those who took the payout, they will receive a tax-reduced check for about $5,800.

When Amtrak first announced the closure of the facility, union leaders gained local political support to save the call center. Letters were signed by about 40 members of California’s congressional caucus and both U.S. senators, however Amtrak did not budge on their closing plans.

With the closure of the Riverside center, some of the call-in reservation work will be sent to an outsourced, non-union call center in Florida. Employees at the third-party company will make the hourly minimum wage in Florida of $8.46. Riverside employees were averaging $21 per hour.

Passenger Rail Service Notices

Current and upcoming service notifications that could affect upcoming train travel include:

Pacific Surfliner Weekend Service Changes

From January 11 through February 10, 2019 track work being performed by North County Transit District will affect Pacific Surfliner service:

Fridays, January 11 and February 8

  • Train 590 will be cancelled. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

  • Bus service will be provided from Los Angeles to San Diego, making stops at Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and San Diego Downtown. No alternate transportation will be provided to Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and San Juan Capistrano.

Saturday and Sunday, January 12 - 13 and February 9 - 10

  • Trains 562, 583, 1565, 1566, 1569, 1572, 1573 and 1590 will be cancelled. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

  • Southbound Train 782 will terminate at Los Angeles. No alternate transportation will be provided between Los Angeles and San Diego. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.

  • Southbound Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles and bus service will be provided for all missed stops.

  • Southbound Trains 580, 768, 774, 792, 1564 and 1584 will operate normally to Irvine, where bus service will be provided from Irvine to San Diego. Express buses will run from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and downtown San Diego only.

  • Northbound Trains 591, 595, 763, 777, 785, 1579, 1761 and 1767 will originate in Irvine. Bus service will be provided from San Diego to Irvine to connect with the trains listed above, with the exception of Train 1761. Buses will depart downtown San Diego, Solana Beach, Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano earlier than the train schedule to allow time to connect with trains in Irvine.

    • Buses will not pick up at Old Town San Diego. Passengers can take the trolley to downtown San Diego to board buses to Irvine.

    • Bus service will not be provided to connect with Train 1761.

    • Metrolink will honor Amtrak tickets between Irvine and Los Angeles.

Track Work Affects Service for Carolinian and Palmetto Trains

From January 15 through March 7, 2019, CSX Transportation will perform track work on the railroad, causing approximately 30-minute delays and schedule changes along the route.

Tuesday - Thursday, January 15 - 17

  • Carolinian Service: Trains 79 and 80 will operate between Raleigh and Charlotte, only. Trains are cancelled between New York and Raleigh, with no alternate transportation provided.

  • Palmetto Service: Trains 89 and 90 will operate normally but will bypass the station of Selma. No alternate transportation will be provided. Passengers may use the Wilson station, approximately 26 miles north of Selma.

Monday - Thursday, January 21 - 24 and February 4 - 7

  • Palmetto Service: Trains 89 and 90 will operate between New York and Washington, DC, only. Trains are cancelled between Washington, DC and Savannah with no alternate transportation provided.

Other Delays

Monday through Thursday between January 15 and March 7, Trains 52, 52, 89, 90, 97 and 98 can expect approximately 30 minutes of delays between Rocky Mount and Fayetteville.

Track Work Affects Saluki Trains 390 and 391

Effective January 22, 2019, track improvements being performed by Canadian National Railway and CSX, Trains 390 and 391 will be impacted as follows:

  • Train 390 which normally operates between Carbondale and Chicago, will originate at Champaign. Train 390 will depart at 10:45 am, 31 minutes later than the normal schedule and will operate on this later schedule at all stations from Champaign to Chicago. Alternate service will be provided as described below.

  • Train 391 which normally operates between Chicago and Carbondale, will terminate at Champaign. Alternate service will be provided as described below.

Alternate Transportation to 3390(22) 3391(22)Read Up

Carbondale (CDL) 5:20 AM 3:45 PM

Du Quoin (DQN) 5:50 AM 3:10 PM

Centralia (CEN) 6:45 AM 2:15 PM

Effingham (EFG) 8:00 AM 12:45 PM

Mattoon (MAT) 8:40 AM 12:00 PM

Champaign-Urbana (CHM) Ar/Dp 9:50 AM/10:45 AM 10:25 AM/10:45 AM

Bus Service between Atlanta and New Orleans on Crescent Route (Trains 19/20)

Track work being performed by Norfolk Southern Railway will affect Trains 19 and 20 between New Orleans and Atlanta, on the following dates:

Monday through Thursday:

  • January 14 through January 17

  • January 21 through January 24

  • January 28 through January 31

  • February 4 through February 7

  • February 11 through February 14

Southbound Train 19: New York to Atlanta Only

On the dates shown above, Train 19 will terminate in Atlanta. Passengers will be provided bus service from Atlanta to Anniston, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Meridian, Laurel, Hattiesburg, Picayune, Slidell and New Orleans.

Northbound Train 20: Atlanta to New York Only

On the dates shown above, Train 20 will originate in Atlanta. Passengers will be provided bus service from New Orleans to Slidell, Picayune, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Meridian, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Anniston and Atlanta.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday Service Operates Normally

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during this period, Trains 19 and 20 will operate between New Orleans and Atlanta, but may encounter delays along the route due to speed restrictions and freight train interference.

Checked Baggage Service Has Ended On Trains #448 & #449

As of January 7th, checked baggage service on the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited ended, thus also ending all checked baggage service at Springfield & Worcester, MA. Checked baggage had not previously been available at Framingham or Pittsfield.

Checked baggage service will continue to be offered at Boston’s South Station, but only on Northeast Corridor trains #65, 66 & 67 which operate south to New York and beyond. Trains #48 & #49, the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited, will continue to offer checked baggage service between New York and Chicago and at other staffed stations along the route.

Amtrak has stated that storage space is being made available in the Boston section’s sleeping car to accommodate sleeping car passenger’s oversize luggage which may not fit into their room, but this storage space is not be considered ‘checked baggage’ and is not available to coach passengers.

For reservations and the most up-to-date schedule information, visit Amtrak.com, use the free mobile apps, speak with station personnel or call 800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

Rail passengers traveling though Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station could continue to hear the sounds of a split-flap schedule board - albeit a new board as opposed to the historical one currently residing in the station. U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), who has been talking with Amtrak about preserving the 40-year-old schedule board, said that the passenger railroad is open to purchasing a new split-flap schedule board designed by Oat Foundry, an engineering design company in the city that specializes in split-flap signs.

Boyle met with Amtrak officials to determine options for the schedule board since Amtrak wants to replace it with a digital board as part of a $100 million renovation program for the station. Due to its age, the current board does not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act, nor does it integrate with Amtrak’s Passenger Information Display System.

Oat Foundry has offered to build a new board that would have the feel of the original one, but also be modern, as well as ADA compliant and integratable into Amtrak’s digital systems. Representatives with Oat Foundry are to meet with Amtrak today to determine if their offer will work for the station.

Carlos Aguilar, CEO of Texas Central, spoke with KERA-TV in Texas to highlight the challenges and benefits of developing high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston, such as negotiating with landowners and creating jobs. With construction set to begin at the end of 2019 or the start of 2020, and service starting in 2025, Aguilar says HSR will provide strong economic benefits to the region.

To hear Aguilar’s interview in full, please visit KERA online.

Rail Passengers Association Board Director Elections

Nominations are now being sought from qualified Rail Passengers Association members interested in being elected to one of two available Board Director positions at the upcoming Council of Representatives Annual Business Meeting being held on Wednesday, April 3, 2019.

These Board Director positions are for three-year terms, ending in April 2022.

For more information on how you could make a difference as a Rail Passengers Association Board Director, please review the position’s required qualifications, description, duties and responsibilities.

If you are interested in seeking a Board Director position, you must complete and submit a Candidate Information Statement by the March 31, 2019 deadline. Questions may be directed to either Board Chair Peter LeCody at [email protected] or Vice-President of Operations Bruce Becker at [email protected].

Openings Available For Rail Passengers State Council Representatives

The following vacancies now exist for state representatives on the Rail Passengers Council of Representatives: Alabama (1 opening); California (6 openings); Idaho (1 opening); Illinois (1 opening); Louisiana (1 opening); Massachusetts (1 opening); Minnesota (1 opening); North Dakota (1 opening); Ohio (2 openings); Pennsylvania (1 opening); Washington State (1 opening); Wyoming (1 opening)

If you are interested in becoming more involved in passenger rail advocacy and serving in a Rail Passengers leadership role, this is your opportunity to be considered for an appointment by the Board of Directors to an open state representative seat. There is no deadline to apply and submissions will be considered on a rolling basis as they are received.

Please review the position responsibilities & required qualifications and complete & submit a Candidate Information Statement if you would like to seek a position.