Hurricane Isabel Suspends Operations

WASHINGTON — Amtrak and other railroads canceled some service in the eastern United States preparing for Hurricane Isabel strike.

Amtrak will make the following changes to train schedules on Thursday, Sept. 18:

  • SERVICE SUSPENSION IN THE SOUTHEAST: Effectively, all Amtrak service south of Washington, D.C., has been cancelled on Thursday, Sept. 18. Specific cancellations include the Silver Star (trains 91/92), Silver Meteor (trains 97/98), Palmetto (trains 89/90), Auto Train (trains 52/53), Crescent (trains 19/20), and Piedmont (trains 73/74). The Carolinian (trains 79/80) will operate only between New York and Washington, and all Regional service will be suspended between Newport News, Richmond and Washington. Auto Train service has also been cancelled on Friday, Sept. 19. SPECIAL NOTE FOR TRAVELERS IN FLORIDA: On Thursday, Amtrak will operate intra-state service, representing trains 90 and 97, between Miami and Jacksonville only. The Orlando-Los Angeles Sunset Limited (trains 1/2) will operate as scheduled.
  • NORTHEAST TRAINS TO/FROM POINTS WEST: The following trains have been cancelled on Thursday, Sept. 18: Lake Shore Limited service between Chicago, Boston and New York (trains 48/49/448/449), Capitol Limited service between Chicago and Washington (trains 29/30), Pennsylvanian service between Pittsburgh and New York City (trains 43/44), and Three Rivers service between Chicago and New York City (trains 40/41). In addition, the eastbound Cardinal (train 50) is cancelled Thursday between Chicago and Washington and, on Friday, the westbound Cardinal (train 51) will operate between Indianapolis and Chicago only.
  • NORTHEAST CORRIDOR: Amtrak plans to operate most trains on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston Thursday on a normal schedule except for the following adjustments:
    • Acela Express 2173 will terminate in New York instead of Washington.
    • Acela Express 2175 will terminate in New York instead of Washington.
    • Acela Express 2114 is cancelled from Washington to New York.
    • Acela Express 2118 is cancelled from Washington to New York.
    • Regional train 84 is cancelled from Richmond, Va. to New York.
    • Metroliner 125 is cancelled New York to Washington.
    • The southbound Vermonter (train 55) from St. Albans, Vt. will terminate in New York instead of Washington.

Amtrak will make additional schedule adjustments and cancellations as necessary, keeping the safety of our passengers as our highest priority. Amtrak will reaccommodate passengers as services permit and will waive exchange and cancellation fees for affected trains.

Norfolk Southern has implemented contingency planning and is also taking safety precautions to assure the safety of employees and prevent damange to facilities, equipment, and shipments, the railroad said in a news release. This includes the the movement of equipment and shipments that have not yet placed within customer facilities, out of coastal and low lying areas prone to flooding.

Norfolk Southern is also beginning to hold trains normally scheduled to move into eastern Virginia and North Carolina and position them to allow for movement of equipment and shipments out of the impacted region; this will also allow for quicker movement once conditions improve so as to minimize inconvenience to our customers.

Operations in the region will be adjusted along the path of the storm as it approaches. Personnel, equipment and supplies such as ballast that may be needed for track clearing or repair have positioned near the area so that operations can be restored to normal as quickly as possible and as conditions allow.

Virginia Railway Express, likewise suspended some of its operations.

“We have been working with both railroads who have taken extraordinary measures, provided us with candid advice, and given us all the tools we need to run our trains on Thursday,” the railroad said in an e-mail bulletin. “They have told us that we can run and that they will support any schedule we put forward.

“Both railroads have informed us that the final decision on VRE service rests with us. VRE feels strongly that if we run service in the morning and get you into work, we must get you home in the afternoon. Given all that we have heard, our concern is: CAN we get you home safely? The forecast of high winds starting in the afternoon is of greatest concern. We will not put our passengers, our crews, and, potentially, CSX and Norfolk Southern employees in danger. Ultimately, we feel that this is an unacceptable risk.”

CSX announced it will:

  • Cease all operations and remove locomotives from all CSXT routes east of the Richmond – Jacksonville main line in North Carolina and Virginia by 8 p.m. tonight, Sept. 17.
  • Continue to operate through tomorrow morning on the Richmond – Jacksonville main line when we can better assess the direction and impact of the storm.
  • Minimize planned reroutes of freight trains.
  • Carefully inspected culverts, ditches and bridges to minimize water damage from flooding.
  • Stage portable generators and post-storm cleanup equipment at strategic points for use as needed. Ballast trains have also been positioned in areas expected to take the brunt of the storm.
  • Continue to communicate closely with commuter and passenger rail services in Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas. We will cooperate with their operating plans as they are made. At present, Amtrak has announced that passenger service from Washington, D.C., south will be cancelled tomorrow, except the Sunset Limited along the Gulf Coast.

“All precautions to ensure the safety of our employees, our customers and the public with minimum delay to shipments will be taken as we continue to monitor the progress of this formidable storm,” the railroad said in a news release.