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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Weather prompts significant Amtrak operating changes from Chicago hub NEWSWIRE

Weather prompts significant Amtrak operating changes from Chicago hub NEWSWIRE

By | January 27, 2019

All routes scheduled to still see service, but frequencies reduced on some corridors

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Led by the “Salute to Veterans” cab car, an Amtrak Hiawatha kicks up snow as it passes through the Healy Metra station in Chicago on Dec. 30, 2018. Service on the Hiawatha and other trains from the Chicago hub is being modified in advance of severe winter weather.
TRAINS: David Lassen

CHICAGO — With extreme winter weather in the forecast, and reflecting what Amtrak calls “an abundance of caution” — Amtrak is modifying service plans on some Midwest routes in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin this week.

The plans, as of Sunday evening:

— Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha route: Four round trips are scheduled to operate: trains 330, 331, 334, 335, 338, 339, and 341, 342. Three round trips (trains 329 and 332, 333 and 336, 337 and 340) are cancelled Jan. 29-31.

— Chicago-Carbondale route: Chicago to Carbondale Illini No. 393 is cancelled Jan. 28-30; Carbondale-Chicago Saluki No. 390 is cancelled Jan. 29-31. Both directions of the City of New Orleans are scheduled to operate, as are corridor trains 391 and 392.

— Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac Wolverine route: Trains 351, 352, 353 and 354 are scheduled to operate; trains 350 and 355 are cancelled on Jan. 29-31.

— Chicago-St. Louis corridor: Trains 301 and 304 are cancelled Jan. 29-31. All others, including the north and southbound Texas Eagle, are scheduled to operate.

All trains are scheduled to operate on the Chicago-Quincy Carl Sandburg/Illinois Zephyr route; the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water route, and the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette route.

Amtrak advises anyone planning to travel to check train status on the Amtrak website, and to allow extra time to reach stations. Customers whose reservations were on trains affected by the schedule changes should call Amtrak’s reservation center at 1-800-USA-Rail.

16 thoughts on “Weather prompts significant Amtrak operating changes from Chicago hub NEWSWIRE

  1. While I miss the good old days like everyone else, there is a new calculus. “Is it really worth the risk to life and limb,” is the new mantra in the job world. Like it or not, very few things pass that test. Remember, the crews and maintainers have to be able to get there to do the job before the trains can run. If the roads are closed or impassable, nobody’s going anywhere. I don’t know of many who live close enough to walk like back in the day.

  2. Yes, but…
    We already are getting reports of cars on the Empire Builder with no heat. On Wednesday, the predicted HIGH temp in Minneapolis will be 15 below zero actual temp.
    I have been on a Superliner Empire Builder when BN car knockers used hand-held blowtorches on the fuel lines of the engines during the station stop at Minot to keep the fuel from gelling in the bitter cold (-57 wind chill that evening). Gelled fuel = trip over.
    Winter extremes in the Northland are not to be ignored.
    That said, after Delta took over Northwest, under Anderson, performance of flight operations in the winter also deteriorated noticeably.

  3. When skiing in Brookfield Wisconsin Monday midday heard two CPR freights.

    This is the first I ever heard of northern railroads (we’ve had them since around 1870) shutting down in the winter.

  4. Michael Lampman,

    The only problem with your statement is that Amtrak runs mostly on freight railroads, they don’t have the luxury of shutting down service for weather issues like snow…only extreme cases like severe hurricanes. A railroad is like to Postal Service, neither rain nor sleet nor snow, etc., etc…

  5. Carl Jacobson – Re your trip on the steam-heated Builder – For many, many years I’ve felt like a lost voice in the wilderness. I never would have gotten away from steam heat, and I’ve got dozens of personal experiences in favor of it, and a like number against electric heat and head-end power. These days I just keep to myself about it, now that the “all-weather” mode is extinct.

  6. Re: Steam heat: I rode the Lakeshore in winter across New York State the last of steam heat (late 1970’s) (or should I say, steam the lack of heat). I miss steam heat like death itself.

    News flash: steam is water. In cold weather, steam condenses around the edges into water. Water freezes. The more it freezes, the more it will freeze some more, until the pipe is an 84-foot long ice cube.

    Looking at the mega – UP trains of the late 1960’s in Fred’s book, how on earth steam got from the locomotive to the 27th car (in that climate) really makes me wonder. Connecting and reconnecting steam lines at the numerous points the cars were shuffled (see Fred’s book) can’t have been easy. Or keep the cars warm during the process.

    Whether for traction, or for HEP, or for braking, or for reverse moves, any train of any length, passenger or freight, should have a locomotive at each end.

  7. This weather cancellation issue started before “Delta Dick” arrived. I’m leaning towards it was a combination of legal and manpower issues combined with Amtrak’s lack of back-up equipment that has brought this on.

  8. I think it is sad the way we operate trains in cold and snow…..when Amtrak came into being one took the train because it was dependable…case in point, took a group on the Wolverine to Chicago in snow and below zero temps – no problem, then took the Empire Builder to Seattle @ a stop in Montana the kids wanted to run into the station, the conductor wisely advised not as the temps were -30 actual – the point is the train ran as people depended on it and it was steam head. nuf sed.

  9. Charles – News flash for you- HEP is 440v ac. The farther you send ac, the lower the voltage becomes. (Remember your Lionel Trains. The farther from the transformer lockon, the slower the loco ran). As voltage drops, amperage rises. Add enough cars (over about 12, in my experience) and the increase of the load as you go back in the train, along with voltage drop, will trip a breaker and voila! – no heat, lights, toilets, etc. I’ve been at 40 below, farenheit, in Canada with steam heat, and voila! – a warm car. Sure, it can fail, but, like the air conditioning on an airplane, when it cannot be allowed to fail (like in a Canadian winter) it did not, at least in my experience. When the railroads ran the passenger trains, there was a “steam man” in terminals and yards who carried a supply of the gaskets for the steam connectors along with his hammer, and could couple and uncouple them in a few seconds. I’ve done it myself. Not so tough.

  10. George, 440 vac and 480 vac are the same beast. Either is correct. Just as in household voltage, 110, 115, and 120 vac are three different ways of saying the same thing. The higher number describes the nominal potential at the disconnect. The lower number(s) describe(s) what the user can expect at the receptacle when various loads are on line.

  11. Gerald McFarlane– we can’t even use the Postal Service analogy now. USPS delivery for parts of several states was suspended yesterday. Including entire state of Michigan and Chicago, no mail yesterday and today.

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