July 1989 - Page 13
Gearing Up For Summer
The summer of 1 989 will probably be remembered as the year that Amtrak's tight equipment supply kept them from handling as many passengers as it would have liked to, even though gaso line prices had moved up significantly. Amtrak's heavy overhaul facility at Beech Grove, Ind., has been humming for many months in an effort to return as much equipment to service as possi ble. This has included both cars and lo comotives. It has been a busy spring, with new cars being delivered, others being reassigned and new service to Atlantic City being implemented.
After their unveiling on April 1 1 , 1 989, in Washington Union Station, Amtrak's new Horizon
Fleet coaches were assigned to corridor service out of Chicago. Here, April 29's Illinois Zephyr features Horizon coach No. 540 1 0 in its consist; the train is shown during a stop at Macomb, III. Despite their spartan exterior, satisfied riders report that the Bombardier-built coaches provide a comfortable, smooth ride. Amtrak ordered 1 04 of the Horizon cars, com prised of 86 coaches and 1 8 food-service cars.
- ViALT STRINGER
Two Western long-haul trains were bothered by numerous delays during spring. The Ca l ifo r n ia Zephyr a nd S ou thwes t Ch ief e ach had d elays at times from such diverse reasons as the wea ther, freigh t-train in terference, questionable dispatching and their own motive-power problems. A lot can happen on a 2,200-miJe trip, as fre quent riders can attest to. The on-go ing message is that if you are going to ride the train, or meet someone who's on the train, call ahead to see how the train is doing. A couple of examples were the west bound S outhwest Chief into Los Ange les on April 22, which arrived about nine hours late with Santa Fe GP35R 2801 leading F40s 233 / 29 1 . Another example was No. 5 out of Chicago on April 20, which detoured over Chicago & North Western through Iowa and operated four hours late. This is cer tainly not implying that all trains are late all the time; many trains arrive and depart on time.
Amtrak has named sleeping car 2465 in honor of A . Philip Randolph, founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. The sleeper was recently overhauled at Beech Grove. A postage stamp was recently released to com memorate him, though the rail equip ment depicted had nothing to do with sleeping cars (see Letters, P RN 306). The first car, No. 54000, of the new order from Bombardier was delivered and accepted in early April. The new
cars are being phased in at Chicago for use in the Midwest, freeing up other cars to move east for the new Atlantic City service starting in May. Known as the "Horizon Fleet," the coaches are numbered in the 54000-series. Cars in the second series from Bom bardier are expected to be delivered in late August/ early September, in time for the startup of the third S an Joaquin. To begin with, there will be both Su perliner and new low-level cars in use on this route. Later, as more equip ment becomes available, there will be only low-level cars, with the Superlin er /Hi-Level cars going elsewhere (and who knows-maybe there will be dai ly service on the Eagle, or at least more cars for this growing route). The new snack-lounge cars will have full booth seating in both end s of the car for more passenger relaxation space and comfort. What will happen farther down the road for both San Diegan and S a n Joaquin service remains to be seen. It would appear that continued state support will see more and better ser vices added. The extension of the S a n Joaquin through to Los Angeles is still a dream many rail advocates would like to see. The position the State takes af ter the next gubernatorial election in 1 990 could well determine whether the service additions get a green or yellow signal in terms of available state fund ing. Current favorite John Van d e Kamp (D) likely would back expand ing rail passenger service, especially as highway congestion continues to grow in the Golden State. Long strings of
stopped motor vehicles may not seem very "golden," unless they spur legisla tors to authorize more money for im plementing alternative transportation solutions. We're not making any pre dictions in the election at this early stage, but the outcome could well de termine transportation policy for years to come in a state that has seen fit to spend considerable sums even under two fiscally conservative governors.
Along The Line
E x-UP coach A m ber Trail m oved from Los Angeles to Denver on the Desert Wind/California Zephyr April 202 1 . The car has been leased for excur sion service by Cadillac & Lake City. It had been scheduled to move earlier, but was delayed until the April 20 de parture . . . By mid-April only three of the 1 92-class rebuilt GP40TCs were in service. They are frequently found in C hi cago-Milwaukee service. There have been problems with their head end power systems; one of the units caught fire in the genera tors . This caused its return to Beech Grove Shops sooner than had been expected . . . Santa Fe business car 58 made a round trip from Los Angeles to San Diego on April 20 with General Manager Q.w. Torpin aboard. With the business car attached, southbound train 576 operat ed with the locomotive leading instead of in the usual "push" mode . . . A change in routing last fall has made it easier for the Eagle ( No. 22) to leave San Antonio. Departing the SP depot, it heads out on ex-Katy trackage for 20
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