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montana mike

Empire Builder Timekeeping Struggles

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Looks like when #8/28 gets going on the west coast later today to head on East, it will once again be a late start, due to the very late arrival of today's 27, which is now just under 5 hours behind schedule. This would suggest a long wait for the folks on #8 in SPK, which will likely depart close to on time out of SEA this evening. The late start will keep the losing streak going for the Empire Builder and likely missed connections for any trains in CHI. For the 3 other of the Builders plugging along today, at least things have settled down back to what BNSF had anticipated the delays to be (a couple of hours over the full length of the trip). So perhaps there is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel (hoping it's not another train!!)

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Looks like when #8/28 gets going on the west coast later today to head on East, it will once again be a late start, due to the very late arrival of today's 27, which is now just under 5 hours behind schedule.

 

They estimate 28(25) will depart at 7pm. I don't see how that is possible. Assuming nothing is shopped, I think it'll take 3 hours to turn. I say, 8pm.

 

What say you, Montana Mike?

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It appears that 28 departed PDX about 4 1/2 hours late, which is about how late 27 was when it arrived, since the combined 8/28 departed SPK about that much behind schedule . 8/28 now running about 6 hours behind. We shall see if they can make up any time. BNSF says they will lose about two more hours thru the Hi-Line, so even with the padding in the schedule 8/28(25), will likely roll into CHI about 5 or 6 hours behind schedule, once again missing connections.

Edited by montana mike

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Looks like 8(25) is now around 9 hours behind, having lost considerable time running the track work gauntlet on the Hi-Line. 7(25) is not faring very well either heading westbound, now over 3 hours late in SPK.

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I'll be taking #8 from Seattle to Chicago next week and am allowing ample time for anticipated delays. Question: Why do most of the delays occur on eastbound Builders?

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I wondered that myself. According to my local BNSF folks in MT, it's a matter of timing when much of the most disruptive work on the track is being done and also how they move their own freights thru the bottle necks as well. The two points where most of the time is being lost, the middle of the Hi-Line (eastern MT and western ND) and thru ID and NW MT are still many weeks away for completing their work, so at least some delays are expected to continue thru September.

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It appears that the Hi-Line timekeeping has "settled down" to the expected 2-3 hour delays (especially Eastbound) that were expected for the Empire Builders when BNSF announced another summer of extensive track rehab efforts. My local BNSF folks have reiterated that timekeeping has been effected by not just the "one off" incidents that have occurred (weather, derailments, equipment issues, etc), but an increase in the amount of overall freight traffic as well, which have modestly exceeded the BNSF forecasted traffic (a busy summer for both agricultural and commercial interests). So even without all of the track work my BNSF guys say that the EBs would likely have experienced greater than normal delays this summer anyway.

Well, let's hope the fires in the west don't throw a further monkey wrench into the mix. This year's fire season would appear to last well into the Fall, given the very dry conditions throughout the entire western part of the country.

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I’m taking No. 8 from Seattle to Chicago on Saturday, so I hope things go well. I don’t imagine track work is suspended on weekends?

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BNSF is working 7 days a week on the tracks in order to try to finish up by early October. I asked them if the overall traffic load is any lighter on the weekends and the answer was not really, pretty much the same amount of traffic every day. The only planned decreases in traffic occur on major US holidays (eg. Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc...).

Have a great trip!

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Thanks for the info, Mike!

 

I keep hoping that if the Builder does experience a delay it’s at Shelby. I’ve always wanted to check out Oil City Saloon or Oasis Bar & Casino.

 

A few years ago No. 8 was running way late and lingered at Shelby for about an hour, so a number of passengers wandered over there.

 

I didn’t risk doing so, since my SCA said the train could leave at any time and 60 minutes was just a guess.

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It appears that the Hi-Line timekeeping has "settled down" to the expected 2-3 hour delays (especially Eastbound) that were expected for the Empire Builders when BNSF announced another summer of extensive track rehab efforts. My local BNSF folks have reiterated that timekeeping has been effected by not just the "one off" incidents that have occurred (weather, derailments, equipment issues, etc), but an increase in the amount of overall freight traffic as well, which have modestly exceeded the BNSF forecasted traffic (a busy summer for both agricultural and commercial interests). So even without all of the track work my BNSF guys say that the EBs would likely have experienced greater than normal delays this summer anyway.

Well, let's hope the fires in the west don't throw a further monkey wrench into the mix. This year's fire season would appear to last well into the Fall, given the very dry conditions throughout the entire western part of the country.

Gosh, I knew I shouldn't have said something. Looks like I just jinxed 7(30). It appears to have sat in MOT for 5 hours. Anyone have any idea what caused this delay?

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It appears that the Hi-Line timekeeping has "settled down" to the expected 2-3 hour delays (especially Eastbound) that were expected for the Empire Builders when BNSF announced another summer of extensive track rehab efforts. My local BNSF folks have reiterated that timekeeping has been effected by not just the "one off" incidents that have occurred (weather, derailments, equipment issues, etc), but an increase in the amount of overall freight traffic as well, which have modestly exceeded the BNSF forecasted traffic (a busy summer for both agricultural and commercial interests). So even without all of the track work my BNSF guys say that the EBs would likely have experienced greater than normal delays this summer anyway.

Well, let's hope the fires in the west don't throw a further monkey wrench into the mix. This year's fire season would appear to last well into the Fall, given the very dry conditions throughout the entire western part of the country.

Gosh, I knew I shouldn't have said something. Looks like I just jinxed 7(30). It appears to have sat in MOT for 5 hours. Anyone have any idea what caused this delay?
Crew rest

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More bad luck on the Empire Builder. I was scheduled to take 8 (3) out of Spokane to Minneapolis tomorrow, but I'll just have to fly instead. Luckily Spirit has cheap flights from Los Angeles (I was going to meet up with friends on the train but we'll meet in MSP instead). 8(3) and 7(4) have been annulled, and more likely if it takes a few days.

 

http://www.krtv.com/story/38800242/train-derails-near-cut-bank

 

A freight train derailed near Cut Bank on Thursday afternoon.

James Childress told KRTV that is happened on the east side of the railroad bridge crossing at about 1:30 p.m.

Childress said that there do not appear to be serious injuries or property damage.

Childress said in an email: "The tracks are torn up bad and will likely be close for a few days while the tracks are repaired. It looks like one of the cars in the mid section of the train jumped the tracks and the front half of the train is stopped on the other side of the bridge. There was a work crew on that section of the tracks earlier today, but no idea if that was related to the derailment."

There is no word yet on the cause of the incident; we are trying to get more details.

(UPDATE) BNSF spokesman Ross Lane says that it happened at about 1:23 p.m.

Twelve rail cars derailed; they were carrying grain.

Lane says that there were no injuries or hazardous materials involved.

The cause of the derailment is being investigated; there is no word yet on when the track will re-open.

Edited by calwatch

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Empire Builder Update as of 8/12: We were scheduled to take 8(12) from SEA to WFH, but the Service Disruption on 7/27 (terminating the train in SPK) changed our plans. By the time the EB reached SPK it was well over 7 hours late and had no hope of realistically getting to SEA/PDX to turn around without starting out very late and continuing the mess that has plagued the Empire Builders almost the entire summer. We were not about to wait many hours in the King Street station in SEA to just catch an 8 hour bus to SPK to hop on the EB at 2 AM for a 5 hour trek to WFH, so we cancelled our trip and drove back to Montana (arriving 10 hours before the train was scheduled to arrive anyway.

It appears BNSF is really struggling in getting all of their track work done. Not a good summer for this host railroad on the Hi-Line.

:-((((

aM 8/13: I see that both 7/27 heading to SEA and PDX respectively are running well over 3 hours behind this morning as they chug along in WA and OR. This likely will set up a late departure this evening for the 8/28(13). Hopefully this will not turn into another very late arrival in CHI a few days from now.

Edited by montana mike

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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.

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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.

:-(

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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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"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.

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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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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. ;)

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"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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