Empire builder timetable reliability

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Cole737, Jun 2, 2014.

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  1. Jun 2, 2014 #1

    Cole737

    Cole737

    Cole737

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    I know the EB runs late most of the time. But I wanna know how late. So can someone give me an average of how late is it from Portland Oregon to Chicago? I am riding it all the way this year in August and connecting on the Lake Shore Limited at union station. I have a 5 hour connection. Will I have time to walk around downtown Chicago for a bit?
     
  2. Jun 2, 2014 #2

    yarrow

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  3. Jun 2, 2014 #3

    zephyr17

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    www.amtrakdelays.onlineschedulingsoftware.com/ will give up to a 4 week history. Just put train 8 with a destination of CHI and the amount of history (up to 4 weeks).

    I just ran it. The average delay over the last 4 weeks is 296 minutes, 4 hours and 56 minutes. So no, I don't think you will have time to walk around Chicago. It all depends on when it actually arrives, of course. You can walk around if you want to and have time, but I would not make any firm commitments.

    The best arrival over the last 4 weeks was 2 hours, 23 minutes late, the worst was 10 hours 54 minutes late.
     
  4. Jun 3, 2014 #4

    Ryan

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    Almost certainly not.
     
  5. Jun 3, 2014 #5

    Cole737

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    Damn. Alright well thanks guys! I'll hope for the 2 hour late arrival! And another question: It is a guaranteed connection according to amtrak, but if its 10h late then how does that work?
     
  6. Jun 3, 2014 #6

    neroden

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    (1) If it's a certain amount late, they delay the departure of the LSL(2) If it's running even later than that, they put people up in hotels and put them on the next day's train
     
  7. Jun 3, 2014 #7

    Slasharoo

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    I would guess that you would have plenty of time to walk around Chicago...albeit the next day because your train was woefully late. Hope for the best, plan for the Empire Builder :)
     
  8. Jun 3, 2014 #8

    yarrow

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    that would be a great slogan for bumper sticker or t-shirt
     
  9. Jun 4, 2014 #9
    The #8 Empire Builder going East into CHI is averaging 268 minutes late last I looked. There are no more guaranteed connections on this route. You miss your train and Amtrak says tough luck, go find and pay for your own hotel( that is if you can find one) and catch your train the following day.

    The EB #8 train is scheduled to arrive in CHI at 3:55 PM. Figure in the average lateness and you arrive after 8 PM, in time only to connect to the LSL. I just spoke to Amtrak customer service this week and they were very skeptical on if the schedule would improve anytime soon. They moved up the departure time two hours earlier at SEA and still no relief.

    IMO, this horrendous on-time record has the potential to eventually kill the route Without the possibility of connections going East at CHI, the value of the route is grossly diminished. How many passengers want to make a through connections the following day? First you take away the small amenities of the sleeper passengers that pay the most and then you make then 4-5 hours late. That's a formula for failure.
     
  10. Jun 4, 2014 #10

    Devil's Advocate

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    That's what I thought as well. Didn't Amtrak say no more connections to/from the Builder? Maybe this ticket was purchased before BNSF threw anything unrelated to fossil fuels under the bus?

    All signs are that these delays will not improve substantially for years to come. Despite the continuing damage to the Builder's usefulness and reputation Amtrak apparently has no power to influence BNSF's dispatching in a meaningful manner.

    It almost makes me wonder if Amtrak wouldn't mind seeing the Empire Builder route be suspended or even dissolved entirely. Instead of trying to recover the schedule by asking someone with more power to help look into BNSF's dispatching Amtrak is busy trying to hack and slash amenities on a route that has already lost much of its former appeal.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2014
  11. Jun 4, 2014 #11

    montana mike

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    Speaking of horrendous delays-anyone know what has happened to #7 in MT this AM? 13+ hours late already???

    :-(
     
  12. Jun 4, 2014 #12

    choochoodood

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    Agree. Humorous to all railfans!
     
  13. Jun 4, 2014 #13

    Phil S

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    12 hrs from Minot to Wolf Point? Must be some kind of a record. But note that Arrow lists "station stop cancelled" for most points east of Minot, rather than "disruption". Is that the end of the "dreaded disruption"? Would be fitting if it came just as trans-con Amtrak service grinds to a halt because of our insistence on making the planet uninhabitable.
     
  14. Jun 4, 2014 #14

    PRR 60

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    The is one guaranteed connection at Chicago between #8/28 and the east - #8/28 and the Lake Shore, #48/448.
     
  15. Jun 4, 2014 #15

    tim49424

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    I would think that they're listed that way because it was a planned cancellation. Otherwise, it would have been listed as a disruption.
     
  16. Jun 4, 2014 #16

    Phil S

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    Maybe but in any case it's new to the system.
     
  17. Jun 4, 2014 #17

    John Bobinyec

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    Are y'all looking at the Status tab on Amtrak.com, or the train's file itself on Amtrak Status Maps, et al?

    On 2/14/2014 I started showing "cancellations" as well as "service disruptions" because Amtrak was showing cancellations in its reservations system. So, here's a little about each.

    Service Disruptions (SD)

    Amtrak designates a train as having had an SD when something unusual has happened to it. It could be anything from a slight delay to a major blockage. During the time period when a train is having an active SD, Amtrak does not report the train's times to its reservations system. During an active SD, the train will appear in the "penalty box" on the map instead of on the map itself. The color of the train's symbol is red. Service Disruptions can be rescinded. At that time the train's times will start being sent to Amtrak's reservations system again, and the train will move out of the penalty box over onto the map.

    Amtrak's usage of the SD is uneven. It usually is used to cover a situation which is unexpected. Sometimes it will be used in the case of announced programmed track work - sometimes not. Sometimes the SD will remain in force, even though the train is past the blockage.

    Cancellations

    Cancellations are shown in Amtrak's reservations system. Sometimes they occur because of announced programmed track work. In such cases they are published well in advance. Sometimes they occur on short notice. In any case, when my system detects that a train is subject to a cancellation, it will query and record the status of the train for all of its station stops. That's when it will mark each one as "Station Stop Canceled". At the time a train should be at a particular station, but the stop is canceled, the train will be in the penalty box. During that time the train's symbol will be yellow. As time progresses, if it is time for the train to be in the non-canceled portion of its schedule, it'll move back onto the map, with its proper color. During a cancellation the train is still active in Amtrak's reservation system.

    Note that even though Amtrak may have designated certain stations as "canceled" for a particular train, they can still designate it as having a Service Disruption as well. Those two things are independent.

    jb

    The Guide
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2014
  18. Jun 4, 2014 #18

    IHC

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    #07 Baby Builder that ORIGINATED at Minot departed Minot 1 hour and 20 minutes late and is already 13 hours late by Wolf Point? Absolutely unacceptable. Just kill off this train already! Put it out of its misery! What a waste of taxpayer money!
     
  19. Jun 4, 2014 #19

    Phil S

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    I'm looking at the file itself. Just have never seen "station stop cancelled" before. I guess both #7s got turned in Minot.

    As for killing it, that sounds really brilliant. Let's kill things whenever they break. Your car is broken,so junk it. Especially if the problem is that you let it run out of gas, which is too often the reason why gov't programs in this country stop working properly.
     
  20. Jun 5, 2014 #20
    Amtrak would do better to change the Empire Builder to a train on rubber wheels, i.e quit fighting over tracks you don't own and use "tracks" you do own - the interstate highway system.
     
  21. Jun 5, 2014 #21

    neroden

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    Just try to get bus lanes on the Interstates. :-( Really, not a practical solution. (Consider the bus delays you'd get from Milwaukee to Chicago alone, with no bus lanes.) Mass-transit-operator control of the route is the only long-term option.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2014
  22. Jun 5, 2014 #22

    Phil S

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    Pretty much what I said years ago and got screamed at. The current system will never work. The gov't needs to own the track and structures and let private companies bid for rights to haul people and cargo. It could even contract out the track and structure maintenance. This is how roads and airports are airways are run in this country and how rrs are run in most other countries. I know it's going to be hard to do, maybe impossible, but that doesn't mean the current system can ever be made to work.
     
  23. Jun 5, 2014 #23
    I live in Eugene Oregon and the Amtrak "train-bus" already makes up over half of the "train" options into and out of Eugene. Sitting for hours on a siding in North Dakota watching cars and trucks moving along at 70mph makes you wonder about the efficiency of train traffic on that route. My last trip on the EB into Chicago (which was late) resulted in an Amtrak "train/bus" to the conclusion of my journey. Don't see what it isn't practical, it is already happening.
     
  24. Jun 5, 2014 #24

    neroden

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    Well, we're nibbling away at it a bit at a time. It's a pity we couldn't do it all at once a la Clement Atlee, but at least there's some progress. Massachusetts is getting closer and closer to owning every railroad track in the state, for example.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2014
  25. Jun 5, 2014 #25

    montana mike

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    Ah yes, the government running things--The efficiency of the US Postal service and the Customer Service of the IRS. Just look at how well the "government" serves our Veterans needs.

    I don't think that is the solution at all. We need contracts with these railroads that have some teeth in them for heaven's sake!!!
     
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