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Amtrak cuts Northeast service in advance of winter storm

By Bob Johnston | January 28, 2022

'Lake Shore Limited' cancellation eliminates Chicago-East Coast options

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Passenger train in snow
Passenger train in snow
The westbound Lake Shore Limited passes through Hammond, Ind., on Friday, Jan. 28. The eastbound Lake Shore has been cancelled. (James L. Burd)

WASHINGTON — With a major winter storm predicted, Amtrak has cancelled all service on Saturday, Jan. 29, between New York and Boston, as well as all New Haven-Springfield, Mass., shuttles and the Vermonter.

Forecasts call for up to 2 feet of snowfall for the Boston area and lesser but uncertain amounts further south through Rhode Island and Connecticut.

All Acelas have also been annulled entirely on Saturday, along with four Washington-New York Northeast regional round trips, including two that normally operate into Virginia. Three Keystones to and from Harrisburg, Pa., from either Philadelphia or New York have been dropped, although the Pennsylvanian is set to operate.

A summary of the cancellations is available in this Amtrak advisory.

Snow accumulation is expected to be 6 to 9 inches in the New York City area on Saturday — far less than amounts routinely encountered in upstate New York. Still, Amtrak cancelled both Friday’s Lake Shore Limited from Chicago and Saturday’s westbound Lake Shore from New York, even though the Maple Leaf and the other state-supported New York-Niagara Falls, N.Y., round trip are set to operate. Previously, when the Boston section of the Lake Shore couldn’t run as a result of trackwork on the route, its equipment operated to New York instead of being switched at Albany-Rensselaer, N.Y.

The Friday eastbound and Saturday westbound Lake Shore cancellation — coupled with the recently-implemented 5-day per week Capitol Limited schedule, means Amtrak isn’t offering any Chicago-East Coast service in one direction on each of those days. As a result of reduced coach capacity, no seats are available on the westbound Lake Shore out of New York on the days it is running, Friday and Sunday.

Also truncated north of Washington D.C., Saturday was the northbound Palmetto and Sunday’s southbound counterpart to Savannah, Ga. This eliminates an overnight equipment turn at New York’s Sunnyside Yard, but leaves Carolina travelers to and from cities north of Washington without any connection possibilities on those days.

— Updated at 3 p.m. CST to correct date to Saturday, Jan. 29.

8 thoughts on “Amtrak cuts Northeast service in advance of winter storm

  1. What a shame! Railroads and their trains used to be the last to stop moving during snow storm in the past. Now…a couple of inches, and it’s panic right away. WE live in a world where railroads are something that just doesn’t exist!
    Bertrand Dion
    AKA ferrophile
    Charlevoix, Quebec

  2. Two feet of snow is just another winter day in Boston. Here in Wisconsin we measure snow in inches. In Massachusetts snow is measured in feet.

    If railroads can’t run in the winter, why do we have them at all?

  3. There are far fewer people on the railroads then in decades past thanks to automation. With the Covid pandemic and recent spike there is even thinner staffing then usual. We are a far more litigious society so more fear of the catastrophic

    Passenger trains are not the only industry affected by weather and technology effects. Look at the airlines over the holiday break or the supply chain interruptions. The down side of technology is less people on the ground and less redundency.

  4. We’ll see if Stevie&the Boyzz re-start the Lake Shore after the storm passes and the following cleanup. Don’t bet on anything. There’s no telling what they might do. The highway and aviation-centric MassDOT wouldn’t raise a sleepy eye if they discontinued the Boston section that’s only running with a sleeper, a cafe that may or may not have Business Class on one end of the car, and one coach.

  5. All these backseat engineers criticizing the railroads for shutting down seem to be forgetting that the would-be passengers would probably have to drive through possibly 1-2 feet of snow while dodging snowplows to even get to the stations. I’m betting the trains wouldn’t even be at 1/4 capacity. Also, as a former railroader who has worked in snowstorms having to chunk a broom down through the snow to even find the switch to clean out while trying to keep the yard fluid, I can tell you that’s a dangerous and hazardous job for us and the trainmen. Thankfully, NS finally began shutting the yard I worked in down during storms and gave us time after the storm had passed to get everything cleaned out before they resumed operations.

  6. Just blows my mind……. Amtrak COULD, if mgmt wanted too, operate during the blizzard. Hell, during the Michigan Blizzard of 1978, Amtrak was THEE only form of transportation moving, albeit late, but MOVING. But as others have posted, “litigious” society is at the root, that, and a loss of institutional railroading knowledge.

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