Empire Builder delays, westbound Capitol Limited schedule change
Posted 05 August 2012 - 08:22 AM
After more than a month of tardiness to. . .the Empire Builder. . . Amtrak is now officially advising passengers through August 31 that they “may experience delays of approximately two to five hours due to track work, speed restrictions caused by extreme heat conditions, and other operating conditions along the route.” The tracks are BNSF Railway’s former Great Northern main, now known as the “High Line.”
The eastbound Builder has been especially hard hit. The Seattle and Portland sections both depart late from their originating terminals because the westbound trains arrive three or four hours late, primarily owing to heat-related speed restrictions at 60 mph over 400 miles of normal 79 mph territory. Virtually every day a set of “on-time” buses leaves Minneapolis/St. Paul to make eastern connections that the train from the West Coast misses. . .
Meanwhile, the eastbound Capitol Limited will now depart Chicago at least one hour later. . .and Pittsburgh at least one hour and 30 minutes later. . .to allow CSX. . .to make emergency overnight repairs to the Pinkerton Tunnel, 57 miles west of Cumberland, Md. The train had been rescheduled for a 6:10 p.m. departure to allow CSX to expand clearances during daytime hours, but that restriction has been lifted. An internal Amtrak advisory notes that the westbound Capitol may be delayed for up to three hours while work on the tunnel is being completed. The eastbound train clears the area before the 12 midnight to 10:00 a.m. work window, so it is unaffected.
Interestingly, the later-departing Capitol may now be held for more western connections at Chicago than its previous departure time allowed.
Amtrak routes traveled:
California Zephyr (4), Capitol Limited (11), Cardinal (1), Cascades (1), Coast Starlight (5), Empire Builder (8), Hiawatha (34), Hoosier State (2), San Joaquin (1), Silver Meteor (1), Silver Star (1), Southwest Chief (4), Texas Eagle (2), Wolverine (2)
Amtrak rail miles: 50,203
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