Empire Service (New York State)

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, gprimr1, Amtrak67 of America, Tadman

Empire Service (New York State)

Postby IROQ1986 » Thu Apr 29, 2004 8:36 pm

Wth the new schedule, it now takes up to 20 minutes longer to go from Albany-Buffalo, either eastbound or westbound.

I inquired Amtrak about this issue, which I might add Amtrak responded to me within a period of MINUTES to my e-mail. Amtrak stated that CSX reduced its overall speed limit on the line and that the decision is indefinite. I tried to get more details, but Amtrak would not provide it given it was a CSX decision.

Can anyone provide more color on this issue? Is it deteriorating track issues? Is CSX putting Amtrak "in the penalty box" due to the incident outside of Syracuse this winter?

Thanks.
IROQ1986
 

Postby Railjunkie » Fri Apr 30, 2004 7:13 am

I travel out there for work and it looks like they added a little fat in an attempt to make up for time lost between NYP ALB. Know for a fact major tie replacement from Alb to around Hudson. To the best of my knowledge CSX did not lower any speeds between Alb and Buf/Nfl, still working off the last timetable issued in 2002.
Railjunkie
 
Posts: 1071
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 7:24 am

Postby LI Loco » Fri Apr 30, 2004 8:20 am

Amtrak is usually "on or close to schedule" on the NYP-ALB segment as there is virtually no freight interference. Problems tend to ensue west of Albany, and I believe they have more to do with traffic congestion than track conditions. (On my trip to Rochester last year our biggest delays occurred around Syracuse (DeWitt Yard) and eastbound between Utica and Amsterdam as the result of having to follow a slow-moving freight train.)

Some would argue that Amtrak trains should operate at the same speed as CSX freights. On the surface, that would seem to make sense since it would eliminate the need to runaround freights to avoid delays. However, not all freight trains move at the same speeds. Hot intermodal jobs run a lot faster than coal drags and non-premium trains. Hence, the argument is bogus, since there will always be a train that gets in the way and has to be put into a siding or passed on the opposing main.

The real answer, of course, is for CSX to install a third track for runarounds. It probably has the traffic to warrant this for its own business, and recently enacted legislation gives it the property tax relief that railroads have sought in New York State for decades.

OTOH, if high speed between New York and Buffalo ever becomes a reality, then the operator of that service - be it Amtrak, NYDOT or whoever - should put in TWO tracks west of Schenectady exclusively for passenger service . Thanks to the foresight of the New York Central's builders, the ROW already exists, and increased passenger frequency - probably 8 - 12 round trips - would most likely call for it.
LI Loco
 
Posts: 1075
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 12:41 pm

Postby mattfels » Fri Apr 30, 2004 10:02 am

LI Loco wrote:The real answer, of course, is for CSX to install a third track for runarounds. It probably has the traffic to warrant this for its own business, and recently enacted legislation gives it the property tax relief that railroads have sought in New York State for decades.

Sought, yes, but for what purpose? Don't assume that tax relief equals capital improvement. CSX managers may choose to use the "relief' to build track, or simply to pay dividends to mollify restive investors. Think this unlikely? Three years ago CSX cut its annual dividend from $1.20 down to 40 cents. When the stock price is flat, the dividend is the only way investors can realize a return on their investment. And it is management's job to keep not only the customers happy but also the owners.

If there are strings that tie tax "relief" to infrastructure improvement, I'm sure someone can cite a reference.
mattfels
 

Postby LI Loco » Fri Apr 30, 2004 12:09 pm

No strings attached, and CSX (and other RRs) is free to put the savings toward any purpose they choose. Tax relief makes it easier for CSX to add a third track IF THEY CHOOSE. Do I believe they will in the near term? Do pigs fly?
LI Loco
 
Posts: 1075
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 12:41 pm

Postby mattfels » Fri Apr 30, 2004 12:37 pm

I hope we're starting to recognize the power of words like "should," whether the subject is CSX or Amtrak.
mattfels
 

Trip report - Empire corridor

Postby Tom Curtin » Mon Jun 21, 2004 8:25 am

When the recently reported on-time statistics appeared recently on this forum, I was surprised to see such a low percent for the "Syracuse corridor." Although I had not ridden that route since the line was Conrail, my recollection was that the timekeeping then had been pretty good. When the need arose to go to Syracuse on business last week I made the opportunity to experience for myself what goes on today under CSX dispatching.

Boarding #281 at Penn Station, the morning of 6/16: Nice consist. Surprised to see business class at the front since northeast corridor trains tend to have it at the rear. Great to see a real dinette --- what an improvement on those God-awful bistro cars!

Heading north up The Hudson: I see the tension between Amtrak and Metro North goes on and on. We are creeping on track 3 behind a local. Track 4 is closed for MOW but nothing seems to be happening on track 1. Why aren't we on it? About 10 late departing Croton-Harmon. Same at Poughkeepsie & Rhinecliff. Dwell time at these places seems unnecessarily long. We cross over to track 2 and north of Hudson we creep by a stopped southbound CSX freight on track 1 which I determine has activated either a hotbox or a "dragger." We meet #284 (which I will be coming home on 2 days later) --- he's about 20 late. No sign of #48. Cafe car announces it will close from Hudson until departing Renssalaer "for inventory." Presume this means a change of attendant, but there's no change of attendant leaving Renssalaer.

Renssalaer: still 10 late. First time I see the new station. Lord, I think it's bigger then the old NYC station over on the Albany side!! How far this corridor has come . . . Depart Renssalaer still 10 late. Still no sign of 48. We finally pass him just east of Schenectady.

CP 169 ("Hoffmans") Now I expect to start seeing some serious freight traffic but for a strangely long time I don't.

Amsterdam. Timetable says #281 does not stop here, but we do. Eventually I start seeing freights, mostly intermodal. Somewhere around Palatine Bridge or St. Johnsville we stop to wait for an eastbound because we are going to cross 1 to 2 --- 6 min delay. At times we seem to be going slower than I would expect to on this famous "water level route," but I time a couple of mileposts with my watch; and sure enough we are doing the authorized 79 mph.

Utica - strangely long dwell time here (Geez, you'd think we were unloading mail!), but at Rome, the next stop, we are in and out in under a minute. We're about 15 late, and Syracuse is next. I check my timetable and note we are scheduled for an hour run time to Syracuse. An hour? It's only 38 miles, it can't take an hour. It doesn't; we arrive 10 early --- first time we have been on time or early the whole trip. First time I see the new Syracuse "Regional Transportation Center." Much nicer digs than NYC's third-rate old station out by DeWitt yard. I notice the construction has designed space to put in a second platform track, if they ever need one. Good planning.

Thursday 6/17: I finish up my customer business and go over to the station to see what action there is. At 4:15 #281 is showing 10 late. By my arithmetic this suggests he was 35 late at Rome. He comes and goes 10 late. #64 is showing 40 late, which readers of this forum know is chronic, due to customs holdups at Niagara Falls (RE Customs: I enter the US a lot on international business trips, mostly at JFK Airport, and I consistently find US immigration and customs quick and efficient. What's the problem at "The Falls?" May be as simple as inadequate staffing --- trying to funnel a trainload of people through too few lines?). I wait at the station for both trains, and also see 3 CSX freights go by, all in under an hour. What a show.

Friday June 18. #284 is showing on time, and it shows up at precisely 8:55 AM. Basically same consist as I rode up here on --- six cars with the cafe/business class at the front. This Gennie still has the "old" Amtrak scheme. #48 is scheduled to be here 25 min. Behind us but is showing 90 late. No surprise. We depart 8:59 and don't get far, having to wait for the first of many freights we will meet on this run --- So many that I lose count. What a show! I don't see traffic anything like this at home in Connecticut any more (Truth be told, I don't think I ever did . . . ). We finally get rolling out of Syracuse about 12 late. Except for the delay leaving Syracuse we meet many more freights without delays.

Utica. We sit here for 12 minutes. What's going on? . . . I go out onto the platform. No adverse signals. No apparent reason except that the crew (and several passengers) are taking a smoke break. Finally a party of 2 arrives with a lot of luggage and boards, and we depart. These folks have arrived at the station about 27 minutes after our scheduled departure time. What's this about? Did those folks call the station, say they were "running late" and ask to have the train held? That would be unbelievable but it almost looks like this is what has happened.

CP 185 (east of Fonda). We stop and wait. I presume this is because we must cross over 2 to 1 to stop at Amsterdam which is coming up soon. #63 passes us on 1. I figure we are about to get started and cross over, but no such luck --- we also wait for a westbound freight. Total wait is nearly 20 minutes. We are now 50 late. All that wait just to stop at Amsterdam. If Amsterdam is important enough for a stop it could use a platform --- and access to it --- on the track 2 side. Cafe car announces it will close leaving Amsterdam until leaving Renssalaer. This time we do change attendants at Renssalaer.

Renssalaer: we arrive 30 late. Same kind of Amtrak "padding" I experienced arriving in Syracuse on my outbound trip. We spend the scheduled 10 min. dwell and leave 30 late. Somewhere around Hudson we pass #281 which I estimate is already about 20 late. Uneventful (but gorgeous as always) run down the Hudson as far as CP58 (Beacon) where we stop and discharge the conductor to walk the train because we have set off a wayside detector. He finds no problem and after about 4 min we're on our way. I leave the train at Croton Harmon, 33 late.

Summary: I assume the performance I have experienced is typical, and explains by example why the low OT percent on this route. But it's some great railroading to see.
Tom Curtin
 
Posts: 983
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:25 am

Postby LI Loco » Mon Jun 21, 2004 8:39 am

Similar to my experience on a trip to Rochester last December. WB we lost around 20 minutes due to congestion east of DeWitt Yard (E. Syracuse) and never made it up. EB we were stuck behind a slow freight between Utica and Amsterdam and were unable to run around since there were five WB freights coming at us.

A third track would do wonders, IMHO. But don't hold your breath! Capital isn't there and neither is the political will to raise it.

In Syracuse, I believe the space for 2nd platform is to bring Susquehanna's On-Trak shuttle into the facility. After several years of delay, the money to extend the shuttle from its current terminus at the Carousel Mall approx. 1/3 of a mile to the west. When this extension is in place, it will be possible to travel by rail to DOWNTOWN Syracuse for the first time in over 40 years.
LI Loco
 
Posts: 1075
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 12:41 pm

Postby johnpbarlow » Mon Jun 21, 2004 8:48 am

How smooth was the ride (especially at interlockings) at 79 mph between Hoffmans and Syracuse?
johnpbarlow
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 12:50 pm

Trip report - Empire corridor

Postby Tom Curtin » Mon Jun 21, 2004 11:06 am

RE the comments on my trip report:

1. The ride quality was perfectly fine in most places, I thought -- even the interlockings. I did find it rough in the immediate Syracuse area (on the old New York Central freight bypass line).

2. Yeah, wouldn't a third track be terrific! I don't know what the traffic volume has to be to make such an investment worth thinking about, but I presume planners in the industry have ways to calculate this (I haven't been there but I understand UP has done this on their main line crossing Nebraska). Since the whole industry, including CSX, doesn't earn its cost of capital, I agree we are not likely to see such a prodigious investment. And remember: in New York State communities tax railroad rights of way and would positively salivate with glee at the thought of being able to tax a third track across upstate NY!

However, if there's any ROW in the US where it would be almost a bargain to do this, it's on the ex-NYC --- with a few exceptions the ROW is still all 4 tracks wide with even most of the bridges intact!!!
Tom Curtin
 
Posts: 983
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:25 am

Postby shlustig » Mon Jun 21, 2004 4:45 pm

Mr. Curtin,

Thanks for the detailed account.

With regard to Amsterdam Station, there used to be a couple of spotting platforms for Tk. 2. A train would lose one or two minutes using Tk. 2, but we felt that it was better than waiting at the respective CP's for an opposing Amtrak train to clear. Freights were either crossed over or held to follow the Amtrak train.

While the CP's on the Hudson Line were universals from Peekskill to Stuyvesant, some of those on the Mohawk were one-way arrangements which led to the controlled sidings. Even when some of these sidings were removed, the complementary main-track crossover was not installed.

Unfortunately, many of the delays routinely encountered fall into the "Avoidable" category. They are simply the result of poor management resulting in poor dispatching. These can be eliminated without capital expenditures and would produce an immediate rise in the on-time percentages and allow the host railroad to collect the incentive payments. Of the host reailroads, only BNSF seems to realize this.
shlustig
 
Posts: 1508
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 9:11 am

Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Jun 21, 2004 4:55 pm

"Good planning" for these stations would be a second platform on the opposite track... it sure would save all this switching over from one track to the other to make these station stops- whether it's Amsterdam (why do we stop here again?), or Syracuse. Thanks for the trip report... sounds about average for Empire Corridor service- which I think is very high overall. The gross delays of hours upon hours were rare when I rode regularly between 1995 and 1999.

-otto-
----------------------------------------------
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site :: A Magazine I Read Often :: A Museum I Volunteer At
User avatar
Otto Vondrak
 
Posts: 20263
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:47 pm
Location: New York

Those mysterious people who held the train at Utica

Postby dumpster.penguin » Mon Jun 21, 2004 8:31 pm

At a wild guess -- The party of 2 with a lot of luggage was ticketed for #48, and, seeing "the" train on the platform when they got to the station, they rushed up the stairs! Breathless, they made it to the train just as it was on the point of departing! But it turned out to be just your delayed #284! The conductor accepted the #48 tickets.

> #48 is scheduled to be here 25 min...but is showing 90 late. ....
> Utica. ... These folks have arrived at the station about 27 minutes
> after our scheduled departure time. What's this about? Did those folks call the station, say they were "running late" and ask to have the train held?
dumpster.penguin
 
Posts: 236
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:57 pm

Postby Railjunkie » Tue Jun 22, 2004 4:11 am

Chances are you may have run into track work on your trip, most of the trains coming east have been delayed. People wait for trains trains dont wait for people the delay at Utica was more than likely track work or waiting for a train to cross over at CP 235. At Amsterdam there is a small platform between tracks 1&2 but in order to use it you need protection from the dispatcher against oncoming moves, so most of the time you will cross over at CP 184 to avoid the above. Glad to see you enjoyed the trip
Railjunkie
 
Posts: 1071
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 7:24 am

Postby whistler162 » Tue Jun 22, 2004 12:54 pm

First time I see the new Syracuse "Regional Transportation Center." Much nicer digs than NYC's third-rate old station out by DeWitt yard. I notice the construction has designed space to put in a second platform track, if they ever need one. Good planning.


Excellent trip report. Wish I could write as gooder as you :wink: .

A comment on the Regional Transport Center from a local(Camillus). While in many ways nicer than the older station in Dewitt. Last time I was there several chunks of the exterior wall where missing, appeared to be styrofoam siding.

Hopefully, NYS&W finally gets the go ahead for the bridge across Park St. and then starts passenger service to Binghamton. Destiny might actually work if both/either come to fruition.
whistler162
 

Next

Return to Amtrak

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests