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Empire Builder Timekeeping Struggles This Summer


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#41 montana mike

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 08:06 AM

AM 8/14: The lateness continues, with #7(12), not yet to SPK at least 4 hours behind.   Will Amtrak also terminate this train in SPK again and bus people from SEA/PDX again?   Meanwhile 8(13) has already lost over 2 1/2 hours and 8(12) the train that originated in SPK, is over 4 hours behind after going thru the mess on the Hi-Line.   I just don't see how Amtrak can keep any semblance of a schedule any more for this train.



#42 frequentflyer

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 02:23 PM

 

Looking on the webcams, since when has the Seattle section been running with one locomotive?



#43 CCC1007

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 02:28 PM


 
Looking on the webcams, since when has the Seattle section been running with one locomotive?

Several years now.

#44 montana mike

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 04:26 PM

With both 7 and 27 running between 4 and 5 hours late into SEA and PDX respectively today, it looks like another very late start for this evening's 8/28.   Interestingly, my local BNSF contact shared with me that Amtrak was informed that delays of 3 hours or more could occur during this maintenance cycle.   I know Amtrak added one hour to the schedule heading eastbound, but did not provide another train set for PDX an SEA, which would have at least minimized the likelihood of the very, very late arrivals in CHI by allowing the eastbound EBs to start on schedule.   With a likely several hour late departure today from both SEA and PDX, train 8/28 will be lucky to be less than 6 hours behind schedule when it finally pulls into CHI.

:-(



#45 frequentflyer

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Posted 14 August 2018 - 04:39 PM

 


 
Looking on the webcams, since when has the Seattle section been running with one locomotive?

Several years now.

 

Thanks, some days I see it with two units.



#46 Thirdrail7

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 06:48 AM

With both 7 and 27 running between 4 and 5 hours late into SEA and PDX respectively today, it looks like another very late start for this evening's 8/28.   Interestingly, my local BNSF contact shared with me that Amtrak was informed that delays of 3 hours or more could occur during this maintenance cycle.   I know Amtrak added one hour to the schedule heading eastbound, but did not provide another train set for PDX an SEA, which would have at least minimized the likelihood of the very, very late arrivals in CHI by allowing the eastbound EBs to start on schedule.   With a likely several hour late departure today from both SEA and PDX, train 8/28 will be lucky to be less than 6 hours behind schedule when it finally pulls into CHI.

:-(

 

They were only 2 hours down on the turn.  As for extra equipment, where are you getting it from besides other trains? How many other trains must continue to make the sacrifice for this train?


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#47 montana mike

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 09:14 AM

"Only" two hours down.   You make it sound like that's really great.  That's awful.   Given the delays this train will incur over the Hi-Line it is very likely they will be 4-5 hour slate into CHI.   For example,  #8 currently still in western MN is now over 4 1/2 hours behind.       I guess we are all now assuming and accepting that several hours late (or more) is the new normal for this route.    :-((      This lack of reasonable timekeeping is making it very difficult for anyone on the EBs to make any connections in CHI.



#48 railiner

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 10:48 AM

Perhaps, during the summer construction season, Amtrak should take a page out of VIA Rail's book, and flip, or lengthen the EB's schedule...  

Not sure how well that would work out, as it's general schedule has been around since the mid-twentieth century, but having reliable timekeeping would be a good thing...

Not to mention the money Amtrak would save, not having to accommodate mis-connect's...


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#49 jis

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 11:34 AM

From a travelers perspective this would simply be suspending guaranteed connections in summer construction season. That will get Amtrak off the hook on accommodating misconnects and the rest would be Que Sera Sera, as it would be anyway even with an extended schedule. ;)



#50 cpotisch

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 12:41 PM

"Only" two hours down.   You make it sound like that's really great.  That's awful.   Given the delays this train will incur over the Hi-Line it is very likely they will be 4-5 hour slate into CHI.   For example,  #8 currently still in western MN is now over 4 1/2 hours behind.       I guess we are all now assuming and accepting that several hours late (or more) is the new normal for this route.    :-((      This lack of reasonable timekeeping is making it very difficult for anyone on the EBs to make any connections in CHI.

Even 4-5 hours isn't that much. Though of course my standards for "really late" could be considered kind of high having been on  a derailed #98 that finally got to Penn Station 20 hours late.  ;)


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#51 montana mike

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 04:42 PM

I too have been on several Amtrak trains that were in excess of 12 hours behind schedule and it is indeed no fun.   I was just trying to make the point that connectivity with other trains sort of goes out the window with this train for the foreseeable future.  I am booked on an EB later this fall and will be  taking the LSL.    Hopefully I will be able to make that connection.   In the past this was a 5 1/2 hour connection time.   No final word if Amtrak will go back to the 3:55 arrival time in CHI after 10/3, when BNSF is supposed to wrap up track work for the summer season, or perhaps they will just leave the extra hour in the schedule?   

BTW: It appears #8 scheduled to arrive in CHI today has made up essentially no time on it's trek across the Hi-Line.  Now running about 3 1/2 hours late, which by this Summer's standards is actually somewhat better than many of its predecessors.



#52 west point

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 05:16 PM

  

BTW: It appears #8 scheduled to arrive in CHI today has made up essentially no time on it's trek across the Hi-Line.  Now running about 3 1/2 hours late, which by this Summer's standards is actually somewhat better than many of its predecessors.

 Trying to be better than the Crescent ?



#53 montana mike

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 05:42 PM

Maybe I was just lucky for many years, but I took the Empire Builders for many, both East and West bound and on most of the trips the trains were very close to being on schedule.   The one time we were very late was because someone drove around a lowered barricade and we hit him going full track speed and it took 8 hours to get moving again.   Granted, this was before Warren Buffett took over BNSF, so that may be a factor, but the trains were consistently close to being on time almost every trip I took, and I rode Empire Builders every month for about a decade.   C'est La Vie'   

AM 8/16: Both Eastbound EB's are very late (one over 6 hours again, the other over 4 hours behind schedule) this morning.   Bummer.


Edited by montana mike, 16 August 2018 - 09:18 AM.


#54 Thirdrail7

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 08:13 PM

"Only" two hours down.   You make it sound like that's really great.  That's awful.   .

 

I'm considering the late arrival of the equipment. With the super late arrival, we're lucky that the train didn't depart its initial terminal much later since a 4 hour late departure would likely compound the delays en route.


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#55 montana mike

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 10:12 PM

That appears to be happening today.  8(15) is now almost 7 hours behind and is still in western MT.   Given the usual additional 2-3 hour delays thru the rest of the Hi-Line, this train may pull into CHI very, very late tomorrow night.  Meanwhile 7(15) is now over 3 hours behind and has to go thru the heavy construction gauntlet in ID and eastern WA still,  and 8(14) arrived in CHI tonight 5 hours behind the already adjusted schedule.   Dismal performance every day now.  Sad to see this.

AM 8/17: ALL EB's on the route are over 3 hours behind with the one heading east in ND now around 8 hours late.   No semblance of keeping to the schedule left now, and according to BNSF the long delays will continue for almost two more months.  Yuck.  No real option for Amtrak to improve this mess at this point really.  


Edited by montana mike, 17 August 2018 - 08:03 AM.


#56 montana mike

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Posted 17 August 2018 - 02:23 PM

An update from BNSF:  It would appear now that given the amount of track and maintenance work still to be completed in 2018 on the Hi-Line, BNSF is  expecting the Amtrak EBs on the Hi-Line to incur daily 4-6 hour delays on this route, with the potential for daily of "more than 8 hours" on occasion.   I would expect Amtrak is just going to have to accept these protracted delays and the fact that most connections in CHI will be lost (as was the case several years ago when BNSF's track work also caused a similar mess) and that trains originating from PDX and SEA are going to depart several hours after the scheduled time each day due to late arrivals until the BNSF efforts are concluded at some point this Fall (which as I was told today may now stretch a little further into October than originally planned-argh).



#57 jebr

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Posted 17 August 2018 - 03:50 PM

An update from BNSF:  It would appear now that given the amount of track and maintenance work still to be completed in 2018 on the Hi-Line, BNSF is  expecting the Amtrak EBs on the Hi-Line to incur daily 4-6 hour delays on this route, with the potential for daily of "more than 8 hours" on occasion.   I would expect Amtrak is just going to have to accept these protracted delays and the fact that most connections in CHI will be lost (as was the case several years ago when BNSF's track work also caused a similar mess) and that trains originating from PDX and SEA are going to depart several hours after the scheduled time each day due to late arrivals until the BNSF efforts are concluded at some point this Fall (which as I was told today may now stretch a little further into October than originally planned-argh).

 

Selfishly, I'm hoping Amtrak starts putting together a recurring bus from MSP east to at least let those in Minnesota (at least eastern/southeast Minnesota) and Wisconsin make their connections in Chicago. They're already doing it at least off and on; I got a call today about my trip tomorrow stating that I'll have the option of an on-time bus tomorrow instead of having to wait for the seriously-delayed train.



#58 montana mike

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Posted 17 August 2018 - 04:40 PM

At least they are doing something.    I know riding a bus for many hours does NOT compare to riding the train, but not a lot of other options, unless you can catch a quick flight from MSP to ORD or MDW.    I chose to skip my return trip on #8 last week from SEA to WFH (the incoming #7 was running over 8 hours behind and was terminated in SPK).   Amtrak gave me the option of being bussed all of the way to SPK, then a short ride on the train to WFH.    I decided I didn't want to wait all day in the King street station for a bus.    I rented a car at SEATAC (I had just arrived midday from AK) and made it the MT about 10 hours ahead of #8.   It's little consolation, but my BNSF contacts say that freight customers have been seeing 12-24 hour longer transit times for their goods most of the summer on this route due to the track work.   It's just too bad for Amtrak that BNSF must do the track work in the most heavily booked months for the Empire Builder.   But then again, winter's on the Hi-Line are usually not conducive for any track work, other than emergency stuff.



#59 spinnaker

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Posted 17 August 2018 - 06:24 PM

An update from BNSF:  It would appear now that given the amount of track and maintenance work still to be completed in 2018 on the Hi-Line, BNSF is  expecting the Amtrak EBs on the Hi-Line to incur daily 4-6 hour delays on this route, with the potential for daily of "more than 8 hours" on occasion.   I would expect Amtrak is just going to have to accept these protracted delays and the fact that most connections in CHI will be lost (as was the case several years ago when BNSF's track work also caused a similar mess) and that trains originating from PDX and SEA are going to depart several hours after the scheduled time each day due to late arrivals until the BNSF efforts are concluded at some point this Fall (which as I was told today may now stretch a little further into October than originally planned-argh).

 

 

Is this work expected to be completed this year?   Thinking of taking the EB From Seattle to West Glacier next June.   I hope things get back to "normal"



#60 shanghaiamtrak

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:13 AM

so what are they doing with all the passengers who are missing connections to eastbound trains? putting them up in hotels and having them catch the next day's train? Im looking at going from SPK to WAS in the middle of next month and wondering what will happen if miss my connection to the Capitol Limited. 






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