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Amtrak train #4 (Southwest Chief 5/3) has 5hr+ delay today?!


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#1 nora_roan

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 10:13 PM

Am hearing that the Southwest Chief #4 had a delay of at least 5 hrs today through Fort Madison IA and into Chicago.  Anyone know why?  Was it because of flooding?  I am in Fort Madison right now, after traveling here via Amtrak on my very first train trip several days ago.  Will be staying here visiting family and departing again on Tuesday.  Am worried about this reported delay today and am wondering if it will effect my departing train (#4) for my trip home on Tuesday.  Am wondering if its due to flooding or was there another incident that caused such a massive delay...?  Any input is greatly appreciated.  Am quiet worried about this... 



#2 TheChief

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 10:36 PM

SW Chief loco blew a piston on Cajon Pass Wednesday night. Very rare event.

#3 nora_roan

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 10:44 PM

Thanks for the info.  I feel bad for all the passengers who were delayed because of this unfortunate turn of events.  My prayers go out for those effected by this, I can imagine how distressed they are.  But I suppose these things do happen from time to time.  It has been raining here for a day and a half now, hence why I worried that it was due to flooding.  Although they are not predicting the flood levels to be a deterrent to the trains and local residents assure me that the river is not high enough to stop the trains.  For the record - my trip out here was great, Amtrak is AWESOME!  They take very good care of their passengers and as a first time traveler I must say that I am extremely impressed!  Kudos to Amtrak - you have won me over!  :D



#4 Just-Thinking-51

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 11:06 PM

Translation:

One of the two locomotives assigned to the train had a major failure of its engine, cause it to be out of service. When this occurs a freight locomotive is normal add to the train. The problem is now the train is unable to maintain the timetable.

Passenger trains general travel 10 mph faster than freight trains, so the physical gears on a freight locomotive are not designed for the higher speeds. The Southwest Chief route has areas where the passanger train can go 90 mph, where the frieght train will only go 60 mph.

Of course the physical part of finding and hook up a new locomotive to the train takes time.

As stated this is a non-normal event. While this or something else may occur to your train on your travel days. It's unlike.

That been said, bring a book, a extra blanket, and a bottle of wine (sleeper only, not in coach)

Travel by any means can be a challenge.

Was there not snow/ice delays at MSP airport yesterday morning? ( 3 May 2013 )

#5 nora_roan

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 11:18 PM

Thanks for the input, I appreciate it.  I have no idea about MSP airport, won't be traveling again until Tuesday (5/7).



#6 Guest_josh_*

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 02:32 AM

thank you i was just about to ask this my self i live in fort madison as well i was to shocked when i saw the 5 hour delay makes me wonder if anybody on that train had to catch a later train that night if they were due to leave on another one earlier that day in chicago



#7 amtkstn

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 05:33 AM

The newer frieght locomotives have a gear ratio for a max speed of 70. A engine built before 1990 can only get up to 65

Edited by amtkstn, 04 May 2013 - 08:29 AM.


#8 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 06:58 AM

This train had 3 Amtrak units as the power going through Kansas City, no freight units. Was still running 6 hours late.

 
 


#9 printman2000

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 07:14 AM

This train had 3 Amtrak units as the power going through Kansas City, no freight units. Was still running 6 hours late.

 
 

Pretty sure they picked up the extra locomotive (protect unit) from Albuquerque and dropped the freight loco there. That would explain the 3 units.



#10 amtkstn

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 08:12 AM

Number 4 is showing running eight hours at Newton. Left Los Angelo's 45 minutes late and has been losing time the entire trip. Number three base been running mostly early all week.

#11 printman2000

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 08:59 AM

Seems I read somewhere they had another engine problem. Course, no protect unit in Albuquerque right now.



#12 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 04:09 PM

Today's Number 4 going through Kansas City had a BNSF engine on the lead, with 2 Amtrak engines. It was 8 hrs late.

 
 


#13 chakk

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 06:11 PM

The middle unit of the 3 -- engine #10 -- is the one with the blown piston.   Locomotive is completely shut down.



#14 nora_roan

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 07:19 PM

I originally posted this in regards to the delay that occurred on Friday (May 3rd).  I now see that there is another long delay for The Southwest Chief #4.  I may be confused, but is this a problem with the same engine with the blown piston and if so, why are they still using it?!  I leave out of Fort Madison on Tuesday morning aboard #4 and am worried that this train is not going to be reliable.



#15 amamba

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 07:37 PM

Nora, this is pretty standard for amtrak. Unfortunately there are occassionally mechanical issues or other issues outside of amtrak's control (like flooding, derailments, grade crossing crashes, etc) that lead to delays. 

 

Don't forget that the SWC is a long ride. It takes what, 48 hours ish to go from los Angeles to Chicago? So if an engine blows a piston at the beginning of the trip and they take on a protect unit in ABQ, it will travel with the broken engine (not being used, of course) all the way to Chicago. Then in CHI they will send it out to get fixed.

 

When we refer to the #3 (4), we mean the train that left its origination point on the 4th. But it is still traveling on the 5th and the 6th, kwim?

 

The nice thing about a delayed train when you are on a sleeper is that you have meals, private space to your self, and a bed that lays flat. There really isn't anything you can do so you have to relax and just enjoy the ride. Or take xanax, which is the only thing that got me through my 30 hour delay last summer. :)


Edited by amamba, 05 May 2013 - 07:39 PM.


#16 nora_roan

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 07:57 PM

Thanks for the info.  My main concern is that this happened now twice in a row (Fri and now today).  I will be boarding the SWC on Tuesday morning bound for Chicago.  I am wondering if this is the same mechanical issue that they have yet to fix or if it just happened again.  I would rather just make alternate travel arrangements if this is going to be an ongoing problem with this train for days to come.  I can always postpone my return trip and wait in the comfort of my hotel room for a few days until they get this straightened out rather than be stuck on the train or stuck in the train station in Chicago because I missed my connecting train headed east. 



#17 Rail Freak

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 08:03 PM

The worst that can happen is you are delayed! That only means more train time! Relax, Roll With The Flow & Have Fun!!!!


A Rookie No More! But Still A Lot Of Track To Travel !!!
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#18 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 08:06 PM

IF you miss your connection, Amtrak will put you up in a hotel for the night and put you on the next day's train, though it might be in coach rather than a sleeper if you were originally booked in a sleeper.
They might also have you deboard prior to Chicago and put you on a bus to catch your connecting train.
As to the two trains both having problems, it can't be the same engine because the 1st one would not have made it back to LA to be coming east again this soon. But I'm sure it went to the shop (maybe even to Delaware's shop) to be fixed.

006b86872e.png

 

2011: Jun: WIL=>WAS=>WIL (NER) // Nov: WIL=>WAS=>CHI=>PRO (NER=>CL=>CZ)
2012: Apr: WIL=>WAS=>WIL (NER) // May(NTD): WIL=>PHL=>WIL (NER) / PHL=>PAO=>PHL (Keystone) // Aug: WIL=>WAS (NER) / BWI=>WIL (NER) // Oct(Gathering): PHL=>WIL (NER) / PHL=>HAR=>PHL (Keystone) / SEPTA, NJT, PATCO, River Line, Princeton Dinky
2013: May(NTD): WIL=>WAS=>WIL (NER)  // Oct (Gathering): WIL=>CHI (Card) / CHI=>MKE=>GLN=>CHI() / CHI=>JOL=>CHI () / CHI=>WIL(CL=>NER) / CTA, Metra. SEPTA (WIL=>NRK) // Nov:  PHL=>PHL (Autumn Express) 
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#19 amamba

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 08:08 PM

If it was a mechanical issue, it was a one-off. I don't know the specifics of what happened, though. So since you are leaving on Tuesday from FMD, that is the #4 that leaves from LAX today. So you are technically on the #4(5). It looks like it hasn't left LAX just yet, but you can keep checking its status on amtrak.com. 



#20 WellTrained

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 08:18 PM

Thanks for the info.  My main concern is that this happened now twice in a row (Fri and now today).  I will be boarding the SWC on Tuesday morning bound for Chicago.  I am wondering if this is the same mechanical issue that they have yet to fix or if it just happened again.  I would rather just make alternate travel arrangements if this is going to be an ongoing problem with this train for days to come.  I can always postpone my return trip and wait in the comfort of my hotel room for a few days until they get this straightened out rather than be stuck on the train or stuck in the train station in Chicago because I missed my connecting train headed east. 

 

As best I can tell, the locomotive units that are bad will be out for repairs in Chicago at least 1 day so neither will be on the train you take out of LA on Tuesday. As for postponing return trip, keep in mind that a lot of long distance trains are sold out in sleeper class this time of year, or if sleepers are available they can be very expensive at the last minute.  The SW Chief may get delayed but it virtually always arrives to the end of the route (which can't be said for the Empire Builder). So if you're in a sleeper, you get extra meals, a comfortable ride, and get to see scenery by daylight that would normally be travelled at night. My heart goes out to the Amtrak staff who have to deal with totally disrupted logistics, much extra work, and little sleep. And especially to the coach passengers. But I'd much rather be 9 hrs late in a sleeper than have to pay for another night in a hotel.  Yup, 9 hrs at last count, and getting later.

 

I hope you enjoy your trip!


Phil S

 

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