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merkelman06

Empire Builder Cancellations 4/12-4/14

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Here we go with more cancellations. Thursday and Friday eastbound and Friday and Saturday westbound. This is getting ridiculous. These cancellations over snow are gonna kill this train.

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I am on the EB (8(11), now chugging along at 80 mph thru mostly cloudy but dry eastern MT. We went thru some snow over Marias Pass this AM, but nothing out of the ordinary for our area in the winter or early Spring and our train had no issues with the snow. I too just saw that Amtrak is cancelling tomorrow's Builders due to the snow. Interestingly, #7 left on time today from CHI, and that train will experience more snow than #8(13) would have from SEA. By the time 8(13) would have arrived in MSP (where 6-8 inches of snow is forecasted to fall), most of the storm will have long passed. Gee, this is Minneapolis, they get snow in the winter. This snow will be heavy and wet too, with temperatures hovering a few degrees either side of freezing, so visibility is not going to be like it would be in January when it is near zero.

As I said earlier, this is what NWA did under mr Anderson's watch when I flew that airline. I would again wager than #8 out of SEA/PDX were "light loads".

:-(((((

Edited by montana mike

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I am on the EB (8(11), now chugging along at 80 mph thru mostly cloudy but dry eastern MT. We went thru some snow over Marias Pass this AM, but nothing out of the ordinary for our area in the winter or early Spring and our train had no issues with the snow. I too just saw that Amtrak is cancelling tomorrow's Builders due to the snow. Interestingly, #7 left on time today from CHI, and that train will experience more snow than #8(13) would have from SEA. By the time 8(13) would have arrived in MSP (where 6-8 inches of snow is forecasted to fall), most of the storm will have long passed. Gee, this is Minneapolis, they get snow in the winter. This snow will be heavy and wet too, with temperatures hovering a few degrees either side of freezing, so visibility is not going to be like it would be in January when it is near zero.

As I said earlier, this is what NWA did under mr Anderson's watch when I flew that airline. I would again wager than #8 out of SEA/PDX were "light loads".

:-(((((

 

Thanks for the update. I really hope that "light load" is not now a cancellation factor. But I suspected something like this when a Crescent I'd been scheduled to take was cancelled last month, with weather apparently not out of the ordinary.

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I also like the wording in the service alert that Amtrak posted on their website:



"Customers with reservations on trains that are being modified will typically be accommodated on trains with similar departure times or another day. Amtrak will gladly waive additional charges for customers looking to change their reservation during the modified schedule by calling our reservation center at 800-USA-RAIL."



Well the Empire Builder is the only train for 98% of the route with the exception of CHI to MKE so how can customers with reservations on trains that are being modified be accommodated on other trains with similar departures? There is only one Empire Builder am Amtrak chose to cancel it.



So somebody going from WFH to MSP can't book another train with a similar departure time for example. They have to wait for three days until the Builder comes through again.


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Meanwhile I'm happily traveling through the Northtown Yard right now. Same tracks the Builder uses. No issue for the Northstar commuter rail.post-5940-15237241278242.jpg

 

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

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According to BNSF, it is business as usual, other than their usual storm preparations. It was ALL Amtrak management's decision to cancel, had nothing to do with BNSF. Yes the EB could be delayed as it made it way through the weather, but that is what it has done for years, decades. Only when BNSF closed the line was the train annulled in certain sections. what is really going on with Amtrak Senior Management?

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The CZ #5(12) must have hit some snow issues, as it's running 5 hours late into Truckee...

 

But the CZ #5(13) shows a service interruption near Parks, NE between McCook and Ft. Morgan.

 

CZ#6(12) is running 8 hours late.

Edited by Rover

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As I said earlier, this is what NWA did under mr Anderson's watch when I flew that airline. I would again wager than #8 out of SEA/PDX were "light loads".

Last time I heard - from two airline employees "freeloading" in Vegas - it's called a "lack of interest cancellation".

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Looking at the current weather in MSP it is snowing heavily. While the EBs may have been able to make it thru MN without a huge delay, the main issue may have been getting pax to the stations in the MSP/St. Cloud/Detroit Lakes/Staples areas. I am always somewhat skeptical when I see cancellations a couple days ahead of a forecasted snow event, but this one may have been justified by the bad weather in this area along the EB route. The storm will be history in 24 hours, so hopefully all will be back on schedule for the high line tomorrow. BTW: we arrived on #8(11) in CHI the evening of the 13th about 1 hour late, due mainly to quite heavy freight traffic in eastern MT and part of ND. The weather along the entire EB route was not an issue for us.

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As I said earlier, this is what NWA did under mr Anderson's watch when I flew that airline. I would again wager than #8 out of SEA/PDX were "light loads".

Last time I heard - from two airline employees "freeloading" in Vegas - it's called a "lack of interest cancellation".

 

It's extremely bad practice. Airlines which used this practice... did not do well. They generated customer hostility and found their ticket yields dropping.

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What I find funny is that it seems like the trains that are the least redundant and serve the most cities without other train service, tend to get the most cancellations and service changes. For like 90% of its route, isn't the EB the only train in the vicinity? I feel like they should be able to find a better way to deal with bad weather than to just cancel an entire route without any alternative transportation options and leave hundreds of passengers in the dust. :angry:

Edited by cpotisch

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For like 90% of its route, isn't the EB the only train in the vicinity? I feel like they should be able to find a better way to deal with bad weather than to just cancel an entire route without any alternative transportation options and leave hundreds of passengers in the dust. :angry:

 

I'll admit that I doubt it was "hundreds" of passengers on those particular runs; based on the inferences I've heard on other threads it seems as though most of these cancellations happen when loads are light.

 

That being said, I think the only pair of stops that are served by another train are Seattle - Everett. There's the commuter rail between Minneapolis and Big Lake, but the connecting service to St. Cloud is a commuter bus. (They also don't serve the same stations, but someone could probably make do between St. Paul and St. Cloud on transit without Amtrak.) There's also Chicago - Milwaukee, but the Empire Builder won't carry local passengers on that segment so a cancellation of the Empire Builder wouldn't result in any passengers being able to be reaccommodated directly to the Hiawatha Service.

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For like 90% of its route, isn't the EB the only train in the vicinity? I feel like they should be able to find a better way to deal with bad weather than to just cancel an entire route without any alternative transportation options and leave hundreds of passengers in the dust. :angry:

 

I'll admit that I doubt it was "hundreds" of passengers on those particular runs; based on the inferences I've heard on other threads it seems as though most of these cancellations happen when loads are light.

The EB has a maximum capacity of around 500 people. Even with a very light load, the six runs affected should total out at many hundred affected pax.

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Would I find funny is that it seems like the trains that are the least redundant and serve the most cities without other train service, tend to get the most cancellations and service changes. For like 90% of its route, isn't the EB the only train in the vicinity? I feel like they should be able to find a better way to deal with bad weather than to just cancel an entire route without any alternative transportation options and leave hundreds of passengers in the dust. :angry:

 

 

The NEC shut down last month and it barely snowed on portions of it. 100s of trains were canceled (impacting 1000s of people) because opposing ends of the corridor ended up in the bag. The NEC has intermediate points owned by Amtrak.

 

How much support does Amtrak have along the Empire Builder's route if things go south? How much support do they have in MSP to turn equipment in bad weather, on short notice? Additionally, I've noticed each time the train has been canceled, BNSF made one of their "requests" . I'm suuure Montana Mike and "his source" will elaborate.

Edited by Thirdrail7

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The BNSF is the host RR. For this most recent cancelation, it was All Amtrak, BNSF said they were prepared and issued no warnings to Amtrak. No in previous years there have been sections canceled due to avalanche warnings, forest fire warnings, etc by BNSF. If weather or access permitted, Amtrak would provide a bus bridge around the area between two stops where the consist can be turned. Now some winter storms are so bad that the bus companies will not run, so Amtrak just has to cancel totally.

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The BNSF is the host RR. For this most recent cancelation, it was All Amtrak, BNSF said they were prepared and issued no warnings to Amtrak. No in previous years there have been sections canceled due to avalanche warnings, forest fire warnings, etc by BNSF. If weather or access permitted, Amtrak would provide a bus bridge around the area between two stops where the consist can be turned. Now some winter storms are so bad that the bus companies will not run, so Amtrak just has to cancel totally.

 

They ABSOLUTELY issued their "3 engine" weather alert demand Lonestar648! Remember, just because they didn't close the railroad doesn't mean travel alerts aren't issued and just because THEY operate normally, doesn't mean Amtrak will.

 

Along those lines, our CEO has made it quite clear. He doesn't find it acceptable to leave a passenger train in the middle of nowhere, burning crews and abusing equipment. He also isn't jumping through hoops to scramble to find people to service trains mid trip or buses to evacuate people. If there isn't an operational profile available, the train will not run (even though there were PLENTY of options when he shut down the corridor). That is also why private car operators are starting to have trouble. If it isn't a scheduled location with personnel available, services will not be provided.

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