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metsfan

Amtrak fumbles in face of harsh weather

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Amtrak trains delayed by bitter cold, snowstorms

By MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 55 mins ago

 

CHICAGO – On one of the biggest travel days of the year, hundreds of Amtrak passengers bound for holiday destinations hunkered down in waiting rooms — some for nearly 24 hours — as snowstorms and Arctic cold delayed their trains and disrupted other Christmas traffic.

Don and Barbara Seifert of Prophetstown, Ill., spent a sleepless, frustration-filled night at Chicago's Union Station with hundreds of angry customers.

After waiting 12 hours for their New York-bound train to depart, their breath visible in the frigid indoor air, the Seiferts finally abandoned plans to visit their son and his family for the holidays.

"It's spoiled our Christmas, sure," 73-year-old Don Seifert said Tuesday before he and his wife headed back to their western Illinois home.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said crews in some cities headed out with picks and shovels to clear snow-packed track switches; elsewhere, trains were held back to give lavatory pipes time to thaw.

Each train delay caused a ripple effect, with other trains and their crews at other points having to wait or readjust, he added.

"A combination of all those things is what presented this situation — about which we're very regretful," Magliari said.

Around 600 passengers in Chicago waited for up to 22 hours before finally boarding their delayed trains — the Lake Shore Limited, which was bound for New York, and the Seattle- and Portland, Ore.-bound Empire Builder.

Amtrak says several trains scheduled to leave Chicago on Tuesday were canceled. Passengers on shorter-distance trains were put on buses instead.

Many passengers weren't happy with how Amtrak dealt with the delays.

Sydney Cochran was heading to Rochester, N.Y., to visit family and complained that Amtrak didn't offer blankets, pillows or food overnight. She added that no one provided clear answers about when the train might leave, if at all.

"I'm furious," the 68-year-old said.

Barbara Gruenbacher of Manhattan, Kan., said she, her husband and four kids shivered through the night despite wrapping themselves in blankets as they slept in the station.

"The lack of heat is what put people over the edge," said Gruenbacher, who was also heading to New York to visit family.

Magliari said Amtrak wanted to hear from any disgruntled passengers.

"We want to document what occurred here to develop a better response next time," he said.

Meanwhile, freezing rain was making driving hazardous Tuesday across parts of the nation's midsection, including Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Arkansas. The Chicago Department of Aviation said more than 400 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport because of the weather, and many others were delayed.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the Pacific Northwest's largest, had been jammed with thousands of stranded travelers Sunday night and Monday morning. But most air service was restored Monday, and the number of people sleeping in the terminal early Tuesday was down to "a hundred, if that," said Perry Cooper, an airport spokesman.

Greyhound buses began leaving Seattle at midday Tuesday after service was halted over the weekend, stranding some passengers at the station and at homeless shelters.

Los Angeles International Airport reported scattered delays Tuesday morning, including several flights to Seattle that were delayed.

___

Associated Press writers Tim Fought in Portland, Ore., Tim Klass in Seattle and Daisy Nguyen in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081223/ap_on_re_us/winter_weather

 

- A

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Weather is an excuse, better for them to stay in the stations and wait, not be on the train with snow ahead, not really safe.

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The weather is not an excuse. It's not like this is the first time Amtrak ever dealt with winter storms.

 

Agreed. Amtrak should know what to expect and should make contingency plans to provide the best service for all tis customers.

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The storm was sleet freezing rain and snow. They simply need more track cleaning equipment for unexpected icy weather.

 

Also... The number one priority is passenger safety. If a switch were to malfunction, people could die, tracks messed up, traffic even more backed up or even totally canceled vs just delays caused by weather response. Imagine the lake shore limited being canceled due to derailment. Bad juju.

 

- A

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Come lets use our heads here. Its a storm alot of things are going to be delayed. Look at it this way, in bad weather what is the true thing moving, Amtrak. I remember a bad snow storm we had and all the flights were grounded, when i came into BWI there were so many people getting on. Someone said earlier about keeping the track clean and clear. Im pretty sure Amtrak would have done but its not there rails. On the NEC they do a pretty good job keeping everything in order but remember when youre running on foriegn rails anything goes.

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On the NEC they do a pretty good job keeping everything in order but remember when youre running on foriegn rails anything goes.

 

Indeed. Hopefully some day soon passenger trains will have their own tracks.

 

- A

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I dont know how much you guys pay attention to on time performance but i've notice that certain long haul going toward NYP has been early, ontime or a little late. I think this has been a on going thing with the host railroad. Host railroad will be fined for delaying any passenger trains. From I use to hear from other railroaders is Amtrak trains use to be held for frieght train or etc causing the train to be delayed. The bad thing about all of this when a train is delayed, the train is now off its time slot. So because of this its going to be delayed more. Youre right Met Amtrak needs its own trackage rights.

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I dont know how much you guys pay attention to on time performance but i've notice that certain long haul going toward NYP has been early, ontime or a little late. I think this has been a on going thing with the host railroad. Host railroad will be fined for delaying any passenger trains. From I use to hear from other railroaders is Amtrak trains use to be held for frieght train or etc causing the train to be delayed. The bad thing about all of this when a train is delayed, the train is now off its time slot. So because of this its going to be delayed more. Youre right Met Amtrak needs its own trackage rights.

 

Most ROW out west are one track, some with sidings, make it all 2 track, with 3 track siding areas. PRoblems solved! ;)

 

- A

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