Tracking Rail News: June 2010   June 10th, 2010

Comments and PHOTOS by Russ Jackson


. . . Good news for Los Angeles Union Station. The lack of a variety of food items available in the LAUS waiting room has been lessened with the news that by July Peets Coffee and Tea, Subway Sandwiches, and Wetzel’s Pretzels will open, and later in the summer Famina Fresh Foods will open near the Amtrak ticket windows. These places will add to what is now available at the News Stand, Union Bagels and Coffee, and the very fine Traxx Restaurant and bar. Other changes at LAUS have the QuikTrak machines and the Budget and Hertz counters moved into the Amtrak Ticket area. Now, if only they could get the old Fred Harvey Restaurant open again! Train Day visitors were able to enter that historic place, and one visitor was amazed to find the bar area on its east side, closed too long.

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Tracking Rail News: May 2010   May 18th, 2010

Commentary and PHOTOS by Russ Jackson

. . . On Time Performance. April was again a good month for the Amtrak western long distance trains. There were more “on time” than late, but when it was late was it late! The big exceptions were #6, the California Zephyr, was almost 11 hours late into Denver on April 23, but on other days in April it was close to OT every day; #7 the Empire Builder was late 168 minutes into Spokane on April 14, and its counterpart #8 was late almost 20 hours into Minneapolis on April 10. For the rest of the system, “close to OT” is the operative word and the medal for this month goes to Texas Eagle #22, which was OT or early into St. Louis every day but one, and that was on 4/2 when it was only 45 minutes late. For the FY, since October 1, 2009, the Sunset Limited has been OT close to 90%, and the Coast Starlight (photo) is now 88%. It’s almost getting to be non-news to comment on this topic. On the other hand, we looked at the Acela Express performance on April 6 and found since the FY began Acelas had been delayed 71,700 minutes. Nothing is perfect, even on the Northeast Corridor, but perfection is closer for the long distance trains in the west!

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Tracking Rail News: April 2010   April 13th, 2010

Photos and Commentary by Russ Jackson

. . . On Time Performance. As usual, we start with some current facts, and then take an historical look at the Amtrak Western long distance trains. The Sunset Limited fell back slightly in March, but is still above 90% since October 1. Its companion, the Texas Eagle, also fell back to an acceptable 77%. The Southwest Chief is at 86%, the Empire Builder is 77%, the Coast Starlight is 88%, and the California Zephyr still struggles at 58% for end-point OTP. RailPAC correspondent, Ralph James, reports from Blue Canyon in the Sierra Nevada overlooking the UP main line that Zephyr #5 can be as much as 2 to 5 hours late while #6 is normally only several minutes down. Also, recent consists are back to three coaches after a few weeks running with only two. Now for history: According to the Fall, 1979, “CRC News”, the predecessor publication to this one, in “July, 1979 the OTP for the Starlight was 37.1% compared to 69.4% in July 1978; the Sunset is down from 50% to goose eggs; the Zephyr goes from a fatal 12.9 to an atrocious 33.9%.” What else is new? Read the rest of this entry »

PHOTOS and Comments by Russ Jackson

. . . Amtrak Western On Time Performance. On February 19, Train #1, the Sunset Limited arrived at Los Angeles Union Station at 8:20 AM. Nothing remarkable about that since its due at 8:40, but as crew members will tell you they consider that arrival time as being late as they usually arrive in the 7 o’clock hour these days.

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Report and PHOTOS by Russ Jackson
Yes, I know those trains don’t go to Sacramento, but on January 13 we boarded Texas Eagle # 21 at Ft. Worth and headed for San Antonio, then on to Los Angeles and drove up the Valley to Sacramento, combining a winter vacation with attending the very successful RailPAC-NARP meeting on the 16th. Departing Ft. Worth was on time, but two minutes later we waited 15 minutes for clearance to cross the infamous “Tower 55″ controlled BNSF-UP junction.

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. . . Commentary and PHOTOS by Russ Jackson
. . . On Time Performance. How’s this for an OTP for the first 20 days of November: Zephyr 85%, Starlight 85%, Builder 87.5%, CHIEF 97.5%, Sunset 88.9%, Eagle 92.5%.

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Tracking Rail News . . .   November 5th, 2009

PHOTOS . . . and Commentary by Russ Jackson
. . . November, 2009.

. . . An important observation by RailPAC Sacramento Director, Marcia Johnston: September 2007 001
On October 16 I stopped at the Davis Amtrak station to check out the southbound Coast Starlight, which was on time. It sat for some time, and I saw the station agent run into the station to pull out the manual wheelchair lift. There was one person attempting to board with an oversized wheelchair. The present long distance cars cannot board this type of vehicle, and neither can the manual wheelchair lift. The rider couldn’t be boarded unless a regular size wheelchair was utilized. When the person and a companion left she was observed crying. Her companion explained that the train was the only option and that they could not afford to fly, as the cost was too great.

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TRACKING RAIL NEWS   September 30th, 2009

. . . PHOTOS . . . and Commentary by Russ Jackson
. . . October 1, 2009.

Snows visit 2008 019
(Photo right) California Zephyr waiting to depart Sacramento station.
. . . On Time Performance and other Amtrak news:
. . . Good news for travelers! . . . Amtrak Guest Rewards
is offering double points on all routes, all fall, until December 19. You must register in advance by using Amtrak.com or calling Amtrak.
. . . Isn’t it great when there is good OTP consistently? This summer has seen outstanding performance.

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TRACKING RAIL NEWS . . .   September 10th, 2009

. . . PHOTOS and Commentary by Russ Jackson

. . . California.November 2007 007
. . . The Solano County city of Vallejo had some good economic news this month when Caltrans announced that Althom will open a Mare Island facility in October to overhaul all 66 California cars on a $13.1 million contract. Door replacement, wheelchair lift upgrades and one wreck repair. The deal will take two years at the 112,000 sq ft facility on that closed Navy base. Photo shows Capitol Corridor Managing Director, Gene Skoropowski, boarding a Capitol train at the Suisun station.

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TRACKING RAIL NEWS . . .   August 10th, 2009

. . . Commentary by Russ Jackson, and PHOTOS by Trainweb’s Carl Morrison and Russ Jackson

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