Avalanche of delays hit Amtrak

Weather, derailments, shred long-distance schedules in the Midwest, Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest
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An Amtrak "mini" Coast Starlight at McCarver in Tacoma, Wash., on April 30.
Nikki Burgess
CHICAGO — A series of host railroad freight derailments over the weekend, already-planned detours, and a snowstorm are causing Amtrak passengers to endure motor coach substitutions or make other plans. Here’s the latest rundown:

Texas Eagle – For the next two days, a washout on the old Iron Mountain Subdivision through Arcadia Valley, Mo., is causing the Eagle to detour between Poplar Bluff, Mo., and St. Louis over the Union Pacific’s former Cotton Belt. The westbound train had been delayed five hours holding for open track south of Poplar Bluff Saturday night. Eastbound train 22 arrived into Chicago Sunday night almost 11 hours late. The westbound train had already been slated for a 106 mile May 1-8 detour between Texarkana, Texas.-Ark., and Big Sandy, Texas, also over the Cotton Belt. The first station where it joins the regular route, Mineola, Texas, is handling Shreveport, La., and Houston, Texas, bus connections during the interim. Yet another Eagle detour will occur Wednesday, May 16 through Tuesday, May 23 when buses will substitute for all Lincoln Service trains between Springfield, Ill., and St. Louis during high-speed rail program upgrading. The Chicago-San Antonio, Texas, train will run via the UP’s former Chicago and Eastern Illinois line in both directions between the Windy City and St. Louis.

Coast Starlight — A freight train derailment knocking out a bridge between Redding and Dunsmuir, Calif., last week forced cancellation of the Los Angeles-Seattle train north of Sacramento, Calif., with a stub train operating between Portland and Seattle. But beginning Monday, the northern section is not operating. Until Union Pacific restores the route — expected to take several weeks — a shortened Starlight is running between Los Angeles and Sacramento with no alternate transportation. Monday's northbound train has only one sleeping car for daytime use, a transition sleeper, two coaches, a dining car, and Sightseer Lounge but no Pacific Parlor Car. Amtrak is again accepting reservations for the entire route beginning Friday, May 12, but that is subject to completion of bridge repairs.

Southwest Chief — A freak snowstorm between Dodge City, Kan., and Lamar, Colo., on Sunday caused significant delays to westbound train No. 3 that left Chicago Saturday afternoon. It was running more than 15 hours behind schedule into Los Angeles on Monday after operating on restrictive signals while a BNSF Railway track inspector protected highway crossings during whiteout conditions; eastbound train No. 4 is more than 6 hours late into Chicago on Monday.

City of New Orleans — As a result of a head-on collision between two Canadian National freight trains early Sunday morning at Money, Miss., near Greenwood, Miss., the southbound train’s passengers were bused to New Orleans from Memphis Sunday and Monday, while northbound travelers boarded a bus at Jackson, Miss., both days. Normal service is expected to resume Tuesday, May 2, but through May 19, southbound train No. 59 will be held two hours at Jackson, Tenn., owing to pre-planned CN track work south of Jackson.

• The Empire Builder’s route east of Spokane has been disrupted by a BNSF derailment early Monday morning, but the incident occurred after both eastbound and westbound Chicago-Seattle/Portland, Ore., trains had passed. Both trains are expected to detour early Tuesday on UP’s former Spokane International between Spokane and Sandpoint, Idaho.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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