Early in December, Amtrak dedicated its refurbished depot at Lawrence, KS. The facility now has a new 500 foot platform and canopy, parking lot access, and exterior lighting. The latter was especially needed because the Southwest Chief stops there early morning eastbound and late night westbound.
Kansas DOT unveiled 4 scenarios for providing a rail connection between Kansas City and Fort Worth, TX. The more expensive ideas include a new daytime Fort Worth-Kansas City train, and a new Fort Worth-Oklahoma City train --- both of them in addition to the existing Heartland Flyer. The other two ideas involve extension of the Heartland Flyer to either Newton, KS or Kansas City. The Newton option would involve a dedicated connection with the Southwest Chief.
Federal grants went to Georgia for environmental work & engineering on their portion of the Southeast HSR Corridor, District of Columbia for evaluation of how to replace CSX's Long Bridge, and Illinois for purcashing equipment and building station and storage facilities in the Quad Cities area.
Federal funding for a new station on the border of Birmingham and Troy, MI was rejected.
Another grant went to North Dakota for the purpose of raising and rebuilding 17 miles of track used by Amtrak's Empire Builder to serve Devils lake, Grand Forks, and Rugby. A new bridge will also be built at Churchs Ferry.
A news conference was held in Pittsburgh in late November by advocates calling for more rail service for western Pennsylvania. The current one train per day from Pittsburgh to New York, Washington, and Chicago has been called inadequate.
E-tickets are coming to Amtrak. Already it has been implemented on Auto Train and the Downeaster. Next trains to get it will be the San Joaquins, Capitol Corridor, and the City of New Orleans. If successful it should be rolled out across the entire sytem by the end of Summer 2012.
In this edition's Travelers' Advisory:
- Crescent will not run south of Atlanta on selected dates between January 12th and February 15th on account of NS trackwork. No substitute buses.
- Cascades and Coast Starlight will see temporary schedule changes over the first 5 weeks of 2012 due to trackwork.
- A UP trackwork project in Texas will mean all Texas Eagle service will be bustituted for one month January 3- February 1, 2012 between Longview and Fort Worth. A stub train will operate between Fort Worth and San Antonio on an altered schedule.
- Thanks to track improvements in Vermont, the Ethan Allen Express is now 15 minutes faster to and from Vermont stations. New schedule went into effect in mid-December, 2011.