Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

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

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, Amtrak67 of America, Tadman, gprimr1

Nasadowsk
Posts: 4003
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:45 pm

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by Nasadowsk » Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:21 pm

Tadman wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:19 pm
They take forever because they can. Who is holding them accountable for taking forever? Nobody. There is no check and balance.
Power change at Bad Bentheim. NS locomotive on 1.5kv DC to a DB locomotive on 15kv AC. Including changing the voltages in the overhead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-Az6uCqRQ4

The biggest wait is the voltage change - not a factor in the US. The coupling procedure is a bit hair-raising, but I'm not aware of a statistical difference in the US vs Europe in terms of coupling accidents. Also note the better handling of the locomotive, as opposed to the bashing they gave the train at New Haven.

Even with a brake test, you're still under 10 minutes here, and well under 15-30 Amtrak takes on a good day.

Another thing: Note the passengers milling about, unbothered by DB staff. And a few cameras out, also without being harassed. Yet another thing the US can learn from Europe...

daybeers
Posts: 291
Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:13 pm
Location: HFD

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by daybeers » Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:34 pm

I sometimes take the NERs that terminate/originate in Springfield and New Haven has the engine change down pat. It can be done in around 15 minutes, but it has a much better track setup than Washington for engine changes. Due to the lower turnover rate in New Haven, there is no issue with passengers boarding, which happens just about the time the power goes out when the electric pulls away.

I also don't understand Amtrak's "hurry up and wait" policy at large stations, especially WAS, PHL, NYP, and BOS. Everyone rushes to line up when the track is announced, far before the train, because there is no assigned seating and everyone wants a window seat I guess. Honestly I hate doing that so I always either sit and wait till the line moves and join at the end or just show up 10 minutes before my train. For me, I've traveled the NEC so much that I'm not really interested in seeing the beautiful backs of industrial buildings, so I just wait until a large turnover station to switch seats.

Good thing they're redoing/renovating the concourses at all of the above stations. That will help some, but this is really a management and employee training issue.

JoeG, I wouldn't get so down about Amtrak. There are lots of service expansions about to launch, in the works, or in planning. This is just a simple management problem. I suggest you and any other passengers here complain to Amtrak about the situation instead of just talking to ourselves here.

JimBoylan
Posts: 3318
Joined: Mon Apr 12, 2004 2:33 pm

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by JimBoylan » Mon Aug 19, 2019 7:07 pm

Just before electrification to Boston, Mass., Amtrak timetables allowed 15 minutes at New Haven, Conn. for the Boston section for engine change and splitting or adding the Springfield or Inland Route cars, which were added to the front of the trains, and usually dropped from the rear. New England "Metroliners" that didn't have branchline cars were allowed 8 minutes. Often, the Springfield or Inland Route cars arrived or left 5 minutes earlier or later, so the electric loco could switch them between platform tracks. The SPV-2000 cars were supposed to speed up this process slightly.
At Washington, D.C., some trains may be given extra dwell time as padding in case of late arrivals. The station crews know how much time is allowed in the schedule, and take advantage of it, even if the train is running late.

jonnhrr
Posts: 1175
Joined: Sun May 30, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Sabattus ME USA

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by jonnhrr » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:42 pm

Nasadowsk wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:21 pm
Tadman wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:19 pm
They take forever because they can. Who is holding them accountable for taking forever? Nobody. There is no check and balance.
Power change at Bad Bentheim. NS locomotive on 1.5kv DC to a DB locomotive on 15kv AC. Including changing the voltages in the overhead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-Az6uCqRQ4

The biggest wait is the voltage change - not a factor in the US. The coupling procedure is a bit hair-raising, but I'm not aware of a statistical difference in the US vs Europe in terms of coupling accidents. Also note the better handling of the locomotive, as opposed to the bashing they gave the train at New Haven.

Even with a brake test, you're still under 10 minutes here, and well under 15-30 Amtrak takes on a good day.

Another thing: Note the passengers milling about, unbothered by DB staff. And a few cameras out, also without being harassed. Yet another thing the US can learn from Europe...
Interesting. And in Europe you have the screw couplings which take longer to couple and uncouple than our knuckles and also require the person to stand between the buffers to do it. I have even seen videos where he ducks under the buffer to get to the couplers while the locomotive is still moving towards the train, one slip and he could get injured. "The coupling procedure is a bit hair-raising" for sure.
Avatar Photo - P&W local from Gardner to Worcester at Morgan Rd., Hubbardston

David Benton
Posts: 8673
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 11:29 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by David Benton » Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:13 pm

1 person too , vs 3 to 5.
Moderator worldwide railfan , Rail travel & trip reports
The only train trips I regret are the ones I didn't take.

ExCon90
Posts: 4430
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:22 pm

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by ExCon90 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:23 pm

The buffers themselves provide a secure--and irreducible--buffer zone as long as he stays between them. Granted, ducking under while any of the equipment is in motion is another matter. I couldn't tell whether he was wearing sandals--maybe too chilly.

ExCon90
Posts: 4430
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:22 pm

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by ExCon90 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:26 pm

David Benton wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:13 pm
1 person too , vs 3 to 5.
Sometimes at New Haven it looked like they were having a committee meeting around the coupler.

west point
Posts: 204
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:32 pm

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by west point » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:04 pm

ExCon90 wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:21 pm
mtuandrew wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:23 pm
The Virginia Avenue freight bypass was electrified, but I don’t think the 1st Street Tunnel has the clearance.
It certainly wasn't electrified--the freight trains originated and terminated in PotYard, but passenger trains not continuing to the South had no need for wire south of Union Station.
My understanding is that some ACL & SAL Florida trains by passed WASH US by going thru the Va avenue freight bypass and changed engines at POT yard. Now if Virginia Ave blocked what was the procedure? Change at WASH or POT ?

Backshophoss
Posts: 6282
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:58 pm

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by Backshophoss » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:22 pm

Pot yard was "wired"back when PRR existed,so swapping GG-1's for E-8's was possible.
Normallly the swap was done at WUS
When Pot yard was scrapped,so was the wire and cat poles on the former RF&P :( :( :(
The Land of Enchantment is not Flyover country!

User avatar
Tadman
Posts: 9493
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:21 am

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by Tadman » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:34 am

daybeers wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:34 pm
...

Good thing they're redoing/renovating the concourses at all of the above stations. That will help some, but this is really a management and employee training issue.

JoeG, I wouldn't get so down about Amtrak. There are lots of service expansions about to launch, in the works, or in planning. This is just a simple management problem. I suggest you and any other passengers here complain to Amtrak about the situation instead of just talking to ourselves here.
100% this.

Amtrak doesn't need another darn dollar, they don't use the ones they have wisely. It's a management problem. Managers don't ride the trains or don't care, and it results in bad and unsafe practices. It wouldn't cost much to have some laminated cards printed up with boarding procedures and enforce them.
Dig the new rr.net Instagram account: @railroad_dot_net

Jeff Smith
Site Admin
Posts: 8486
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 9:28 am
Location: MP 67.2 Georgia Southern Railway

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by Jeff Smith » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:04 am

I like the idea of dual mode Catenary/Diesel for the Regionals that continue beyond DC, and those that run up to Springfield. But they'll have to have the range required. It can be done as shown with the ALP-45-DP, but as I understand it those have limited range, and Amtrak does not work with Bombardier.

There is a thread on a combined dual mode acquisition somewhere that would work with MTA to replace the P32's (with MNRR) and DE30 (LIRR) but I haven't heard anything on that. And that's also DC/Diesel.

A catenary DM version would have a lot of through-running possibilities, though, including MNRR runs to NYP off the branches with bilevel equipment (obviating the need for Third Rail extension), and Amtrak runs to Long Island (part of the Penn Access agreement) off the NEC (the DC/DM could be used off Empire).

/endfoam :wink: :-D
Next stop, Willoughby
~Jeff Smith (fka "Sarge") :: RAILROAD.NET Site Administrator/Co-Owner

User avatar
BandA
Posts: 2838
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:47 am

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by BandA » Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:58 pm

Should be able to develop robotic devices to do simple tasks like plugging/unplugging cables & opening/closing water & waste valves, and for releasing the knuckle (I assume that is done manually). So then no blue flags required.

I don't think you can have people boarding during the brake test (I'm assuming the train could move slightly during a brake test).

Gilbert B Norman
Posts: 14081
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:52 am
Location: Clarendon Hills, IL (BNSF Chicago Sub; MP 18.71)

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:34 am

Nasadowsk wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:21 pm
Another thing: Note the passengers milling about, unbothered by DB staff. And a few cameras out, also without being harassed. Yet another thing the US can learn from Europe...
Mr. Nas, it still horrifies me when I see a Carman standing between the buffers handling the still prevalent link and pin. This year, observed such at Innsbruck. Several others previous years in Austria.

jonnhrr
Posts: 1175
Joined: Sun May 30, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Sabattus ME USA

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by jonnhrr » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:36 am

ExCon90 wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:26 pm
David Benton wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:13 pm
1 person too , vs 3 to 5.
Sometimes at New Haven it looked like they were having a committee meeting around the coupler.
As I recall there was one person who was responsible for blue flagging the engine while the unhitch/hitch were made. Also I believe the mechanical coupling and the electrical connections (HEP etc.) were done by separate people, different crafts I guess? Seems like Europe is more flexible in that area.
Avatar Photo - P&W local from Gardner to Worcester at Morgan Rd., Hubbardston

mtuandrew
Posts: 5928
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: Why do trains spend so long stopped in Washington?

Post by mtuandrew » Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:25 pm

BandA wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:58 pm
Should be able to develop robotic devices to do simple tasks like plugging/unplugging cables & opening/closing water & waste valves, and for releasing the knuckle (I assume that is done manually). So then no blue flags required.

I don't think you can have people boarding during the brake test (I'm assuming the train could move slightly during a brake test).
There are several varieties of automatic coupler on the market - the most common FRA-certified system over here seems to be the pin & cup aka spear coupler. It isn’t compatible with knuckle couplers (the AAR standard) but has a long history in MU operations. That said, there are knuckle coupler designs with automatic hose connections, and this type of coupler would make a lot of sense for Amtrak. Much faster and less personnel risk, and if there’s a car in consist without such connections, it can be coupled normally with standard trainline, comm line, HEP and air hoses.

Return to “Amtrak”