Trains For America

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Amtrak engine shortage

Transportation reporter Gene Poon posted this item on a discussion group, which I repeat here with permission.

This is indicative of the sorry lack of capitol capital budget. New head end power is a crucial need.

Sunset Limited departed New Orleans on Friday with only one engine. New Orleans had no protect units, so an EXTRA unit had to be sent from Chicago to New Orleans on the City of New Orleans, just to get this unit for the Sunset.

The train was planned to pick up a damaged unit at San Antonio to take it to Los Angeles. But the possibility of failure on that engine, plus the extra cars the Sunset will pick up at San Antonio, made it not advisable to run just one “good” P42 on the train; so the protect unit at Ft. Worth went to San Antonio on the Texas Eagle; it is also to go west to Los Angeles on the Sunset.

A Ft. Worth protect engine must be maintained by Amtrak under the Heartland Flyer contract, so Amtrak must now send a St. Louis protect unit to Ft. Worth.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

9 Responses

  1. Ran says:

    I think you mean capital, not capitol.

    Amtrak has a large pool of P42s, which are not old. The issue here is not a capital budget, but adequately funded and effective maintenance. Maintenance is an operating cost, not capital.

  2. patlynch says:

    Thanks for the correction.

  3. […] around the network, Trains for America posts about an engine shortage on Amtrak (need a place to spend some capital, Mr. President?), […]

  4. […] us your thoughts on the data in the comments. Elsewhere around the network, Trains for America posts about an engine shortage on Amtrak (need a place to spend some capital, Mr. President?), […]

  5. Larry says:

    I saw both the eastbound and westbound Sunset Ltd’s on Friday as they passed through Avondale, LA. I don’t recall seeing just 1 engine on the westbound and the eastbound was pulling an engine that appeared to have been sideswiped midway down the left side of the loco.

  6. Amtrak doesn’t have a true shortage of locomotives. They have 30 GE P40 locomotives in storage. http://on-track-on-line.com/amtkrinf-p40store.shtml

    They all need to be rebuilt and such but they are there and waiting.

  7. there was a lot of older BNSF power that was pulled out to keep Amtrak running in the pacific northwest a couple months ago. I wonder why the host rails in louisiana couldn’t do the same thing…

  8. Anonymous says:

    I took the Silver Meteor this past Sunday (Miami –> NYC) and we lost an engine a couple hours into the trip. They decided to proceed from Florida to NY without it.

  9. patlynch says:

    That must have been quite a trip.

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