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‘California Zephyr,’ Missouri trains disrupted by floods

By Bob Johnston | March 18, 2019

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CHICAGO—Flooding in eastern Nebraska, western Iowa, and northwest Missouri has caused delays, truncations and outright cancellations to the Chicago-Emeryville, Calif., California Zephyr and two state-sponsored Missouri River Runner round-trips between St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo.

Today’s eastbound Zephyr is cancelled entirely out of California; Amtrak has blocked sales east of Denver until at least Thursday, March 21. Originations after that are dependent on when BNSF Railway trackage can be restored.

In Missouri, service is cancelled today with no alternate transportation provided and as of 1 p.m. CDT Monday is blocked for sale through Friday, though Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says trains on the route might resume earlier.

The Southwest Chief remains unaffected; however, the train is sold out in coach departing Chicago until Wednesday, owing to Amtrak’s “right-sized” reduced consist policy.

Heavy western snowstorms began inflicting serious delays on the Zephyr in the middle of last week, when the eastbound train due into Chicago on Thursday, March 14, actually arrived at 2:46 a.m. on Saturday, March 16, 35 hours late, after rolling into Denver only 47 minutes off the advertised on March 14.

The Zephyr set to arrive into Chicago on Sunday, March 17, backtracked to Omaha, then to Denver; trains due into Chicago on Monday and Tuesday were terminated at Denver, where westbound Zephyrs have been originating through the track outages.

4 thoughts on “‘California Zephyr,’ Missouri trains disrupted by floods

  1. Heaven forbid. Trains are cancelled, don’t know when they will run again and not one extra seat, or train for that matter, for the Chief. And Mr. Anderson, as usual, is absent from the railroad.

  2. Hope it all dries up by May, because friends and I are riding the CZ to Glenwood Springs where we will get a rental car and drive the rest of the way to Ogden, UT for the Golden Spike Fest. I have never been on Amtrak version of this train, only the original CZ, so looking forward to the trip. I was on the River Runner on Sun going to Washington, MO for a St. Pat’s day trip with our railfan group, our bus met us there. Water was up and running fast, but not that bad. But UP had a bunch of trains on the move heading east, trying to get stuff out of the way. We passed at least 8-10 trains.

  3. Southwest Chief coach seats “sold out until Wednesday,” because of “right sizing.” Is there a rational explanation for such a statement? It sorta looks like “wrong sizing,” from what I read.

  4. In the pre-Amtrak era, ATSF, and indeed, every similarly situated railroad would add capacity during both nature-caused emergencies, as well as political ones (e.g., airline strikes) in order to accommodate the traveling public. That was pre-1971 “right-sizing,” not the “public be damned” version of what Amtrak practices today.

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