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View Diary: Rural Passenger Rail: Let a hundred Empire Builders bloom! (61 comments)

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  •  the engine on this train (1+ / 0-)
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    hadn't broken down. The freight engine WAS the engine. Now, the train that ran before this one had an unplanned introduction to a truck on the tracks, which damaged that engine and blew up the truck, killing the driver. THEY were offered direct buses to Chicago Union from Minneapolis Station, my friend's train was offered jackshit at Minneapolis Station, jackshit by way of explanation for the exceedingly slow going from Minneapolis to Chicago from conductor and crew, and jackshit at Chicago Union.

    While the Empire Builder is a gorgeous trip, this was a nightmare for her and the people who boarded in Seattle.

    "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

    by theRoaringGirl on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 07:44:04 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  At least one Amtrak engine needed for lights, etc (0+ / 0-)

      The freight engines do not have the generator and power cables to supply electricity to a passenger train for heat, lights, etc.. Thusly Amtrak will transfer the passengers to another train, bus, etc. as soon as practical if their engines are completely dead. But quite often the traction motors on Amtrak's engines fail but the generator for train utilities still works, so they can add a freight engine and keep going.

      BTW, I've been through this before- rode the "Builder westbound from MSP to PDX a few years back and we went through a blizzard in MN. There were two Amtrak locomotives on the train, and the traction motors started shorting out from the fine snow getting into them. One was totally dead and the other dying by the time we got to Rugby, ND. So the crew wisely shut down the traction motors on the still running Amtrak engine so the computer wouldn't shut it down completely and hooked a BNSF engine on the front. IIRC the pinch hitting engine was an EMD GP40, no hot rod with less than half the power of the two dying GEs' but it'd run forever. Our speed was down from 79 to 60 at best and we were a lot slower on the hills. That engine took us all the way to Spokane where Amtrak keeps an engine, but we lost about 8 hours due to the time spent switching engines and lack of power.

      •  Not in my friend's (0+ / 0-)

        instance. I spent a lot of time on the phone with amtrak, and got no information as to why the train was a)moving so slow
        b)passengers weren't offered the bus to Chicago as the previous train's passengers were
        c)why the engine wasn't switched as they were told in Minneapolis
        d)why amtrak treated all the passengers on that train like shit-eating monkeys when they did finally arrive at Chicago Union
        e)why no one is still not addressing the issue

        amtrak lost a lot of passenger goodwill and business

        "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

        by theRoaringGirl on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 12:24:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe they had no other options... (0+ / 0-)

          Reminds me other the Amtrak train that got stuck between Chicago and Denver last winter. BNSF sent out maintainence crews to dig them out and an extra set of engines to push them through the snow drifts... In the middle of a blizzard. After all these heroics, the train derailed on an ice jammed switch pulling into the Denver station.

          Sometimes the weather defeats you no matter how hard you try. For example, after this weeks storms, the eastbound Empire Builders are limping home, with a BNSF engine in one case.

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