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Passenger Trains > In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via DET


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Date: 11/04/19 12:34
In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via DET
Author: inCHI

I'm on board Via 73, from Toronto to Windsor. The itinerary - which I knew was risky - was to take it to Windsor, then catch Amtrak 355 at Detroit. 73 arrives at 4:30pm, 355 leaves Detroit at 6:15pm. If 73 was on time, I'd take transit and the tunnel bus to Amtrak. If not, I'd get a ride. And, if things get really bad, I'll miss the connection.

The latter is looking more likely. In Toronto, 73 was still headed to the station when boarding was supposed to commence. It departed 30 minutes late, the explanation was "equipment issues in the shop." We kept to 30 minutes late through London. West of there, at Kamoka, where the CN Chatham Sub diverges, we came to a stop. They announced that we needed to meet eastbound 76, which was coming to the next siding/stop west, Glencoe. So, here we sit, while it did the station work and continued on. They claimed 12-18 minutes delay would be likely, the way it is going I think 20-30 minutes is possible. If we somehow still get in an hour late I think there is a chance I can make 355 using a taxi/rideshare. But the way this is going, I'm getting doubtful. Then again, I've ridden 355 many times and sometimes it is late arriving into Detroit from Pontiac. Here is hoping!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/04/19 12:41 by inCHI.



Date: 11/04/19 13:59
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: cabsignaldrop

I miss the International! Shame it can't be reinstated. Let us know how you make out.

Posted from Android



Date: 11/04/19 14:26
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: Lackawanna484

Via 73 shows as 1 hour, 8 minutes late, approaching Windsor at 5.23pm (17.23)



Date: 11/04/19 15:03
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: toledopatch

It may take some friendly handling by Customs at the Tunnel.

VIA #73 arrived at Windsor at 5:37p, down 1 hr 7 min.

Amtrak #355, due out of Detroit at 6:18p, is currently estimated at 3 minutes late. It shows as having left Royal Oak at 5:57p, 2 minutes down.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/04/19 15:05 by toledopatch.



Date: 11/04/19 15:50
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: joemvcnj

cabsignaldrop Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I miss the International! Shame it can't be
> reinstated. Let us know how you make out.

If you try to go that route today and make your way somehow between Port Huron and Sarnia, you are not going to get much sleep.
Even before 9/11/01 , US Customs got very full of themselves and impossible. 
 



Date: 11/04/19 16:04
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: inCHI

Thanks for the well-wishes - I made it! It couldn't have been closer. With how little time I had, I needed to Uber. Taxi's filled up immediately and were gone, and I don't know if they go cross border. Rideshare can go across border but I knew many drivers wouldn't want to. So with the clock ticking (5:40pm at Via Station, Amtrak at 6:18pm) I ordered an Uber, talked to them and they declined, and then repeat that two more times until my 4th driver, who was willing to take the trip. I get why they don't want to, the app doesn't work once you cross the border, he didn't have cell service on the other side, you pay a toll coming back. I got underway in his car at 5:45pm or maybe later. We got through customs at maybe... 6:08pm. 355 didn't seem to be running late, and I realized there was no way I would make the Detroit station. I asked if I could pay him cash to go to Dearborn, and he agreed. I gave him what he seemed to think was a good amount for the extra distance and effort. I navigate him there with my cell service, ETA 6:33pm, Amtrak is scheduled for 6:36pm. As he drops me and we shake hands, I hear the honk of 355 pulling in. Can't believe I made it.

Now it's time I get to work on that Via reimbursement form for being over an hour late, because the stress their delay added certainly makes that justified.



Date: 11/04/19 16:12
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: inCHI

Now I'm also into the 355 experience. I think I've encountered this multiple times before on 355 headed west - there is that nice new(ish) 79mph double track to  almost Ypsilanti, where 352 should blow past 355. But 352 is almost always late, and I guess there isn't a siding at Ann Arbor. So on 355, you poke along at 30mph, then come to a stop... waiting will 352 is just arriving at Ann Arbor to do a station stop that always seems to be 5+ minutes. At least this won't be as long as that Via meet between 73 and 76... as I expected in that earlier comment, it was a 30 minute wait for that meet, not the 12-15 minute delay that was initially announced.

*Also, I should note: I rode business class on Via 73 and it was excellent, service wise. In fact I couldn't believe how much better it was than Amtrak's business class, especially considering they are priced about the same, I got a roomy seat, a tasty meal, and several free beverages (including alcoholic). On 355 I'm riding coach, as usual. The crew has been good, they have announced delays and are very pleasant.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/04/19 16:42 by inCHI.



Date: 11/04/19 16:26
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: robj

quite an adventure for sure, interesting to read.

Late Canadian train but things are always better in Canada???
 I know there is an element of tolerance but these trains are not that fast, I believe late trains = lost customers.

Bob



Date: 11/04/19 16:33
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: toledopatch

No, there is no siding between Ypsilanti and the east side of Chelsea. Single track all the way through Ann Arbor.



Date: 11/04/19 16:37
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: inCHI

Well, there is one thing in common on both trips - go high(er) speeds, but then sit and wait for meets. On Via, going 95mph along Lake St. Clair, watching the houses seemingly floating on water whiz by, is a pretty amazing view. But it comes after sitting motionless for 30 minutes waiting for the meet. And then same on 355; it has a Charger front and rear, and if ITCS is working, I'm excited to see how quickly we get up to 110mph... once we finally get to those parts.



Date: 11/04/19 19:51
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: CR900945

Many times 352 will be a half hour or more late into Ann Arbor.  Instead of keeping 352 in the siding at Chelsea, they hold 355 east of Ypsilanti to allow 352 to work Ann Arbor.  As a result, 355 then also becomes late.  An agent at one of the stations was told that if 352 missed a certain cutoff time in Pontiac, CN would make them wait an undetermined amount of time to turn the engine.  Sounds like justification for bi-directional diesels or having a cab control car so you don't have to turn anything.  Nothing new here.  Planning is not Amtrak's strong suit right now.



Date: 11/04/19 21:44
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: RailThunder

We had a fabulous experience on a VIA roundtrip from Windsor to Toronto and return this past summer.  The headache for us was the tunnel bus which had a cancelled trip, and a long wait in the tunnel, and a customs getting back into Detroit.  That said I would do it again, it was a fun trip.



Date: 11/05/19 03:26
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: ghCBNS

inCHI Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Well, there is one thing in common on both trips -
> go high(er) speeds, but then sit and wait for
> meets. On Via, going 95mph along Lake St. Clair,
> watching the houses seemingly floating on water
> whiz by, is a pretty amazing view. But it comes
> after sitting motionless for 30 minutes waiting
> for the meet.

This is VIA owned track. Perhaps an additional passing track is required in this section.



Date: 11/05/19 06:46
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: mp51w

The freight railroads demand new or lengthened sidings for expanded Amtrak service, but yet here Amtrak is with their very own route, and they can't fund an obvious capacity problem!



Date: 11/05/19 07:29
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: inCHI

Other updates: got into Chicago 36 minutes late thanks to padding, otherwise we were 53 minutes late. Overall the route feels like you are getting somewhere, with so much more 79mph running than their used to be under NS. I wish there weren't such severe speed restrictions through certain towns (Albion and some others) and their weren't ridiculous station stops like Dowagiac. Having a station with the 3rd-lowest boardings located on 110mph just 15 miles from another station (Niles) that every train stops at is ridiculous. We had another extra stop on that 110mph segment near Lawton, where the annoucement made it sound like there was a signal issue. (Engineer had to come to a complete stop twice.) In Battle Creek we also had an extra pause at the station for what sounded like PTC stuff that the engineer had to work on before departing.

mp51w Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The freight railroads demand new or lengthened
> sidings for expanded Amtrak service, but yet here
> Amtrak is with their very own route, and they
> can't fund an obvious capacity problem!

Interesting to say that, because it brings to mind TAW's post on the Western board about capacity and scheduled railroading

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?1,4896298

The capacity is fine for the scheduled meets, but as soon as the trains are off schedule, so are the meets, and the delay magnifies.

That said, I think there could be a case for Ann Arbor to be a siding and a dual platform. I was going to make a comment from personal experience that it is a very busy station, but instead I looked it up and it is the busiest station. Making it a siding where a meet can occur, and giving it two platforms both seem like essential items if they are ever to increase the frequency of the service.
 



Date: 11/05/19 07:38
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: joemvcnj

Wasn't there a proposal to run commuter trains from Ann Arbor to somewhere ? 



Date: 11/05/19 10:47
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: DevalDragon

inCHI Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Other updates: got into Chicago 36 minutes late
> thanks to padding, otherwise we were 53 minutes
> late. Overall the route feels like you are getting
> somewhere, with so much more 79mph running than
> their used to be under NS. I wish there weren't
> such severe speed restrictions through certain
> towns (Albion and some others) and their weren't
> ridiculous station stops like Dowagiac. Having a
> station with the 3rd-lowest boardings located on
> 110mph just 15 miles from another station (Niles)
> that every train stops at is ridiculous. We had
> another extra stop on that 110mph segment near
> Lawton, where the annoucement made it sound like
> there was a signal issue. (Engineer had to come to
> a complete stop twice.) In Battle Creek we also
> had an extra pause at the station for what sounded
> like PTC stuff that the engineer had to work on
> before departing.

They change crews in Battle Creek - that's part of the "extra pause." Every time they change crews the old engineer logs out and the new engineer has to log in. 



Date: 11/05/19 16:20
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: jp1822

With improved service for the Pontiac/Detroit to Chicago corridor - some higher speed running etc. - the restoration of Amtrak's International Train via Detroit, should definitely be re-considered. It seems to make better sense with an improved corridor and probably could work to everyone's advantage. I wasn't too keen on first hearing this suggestion a couple of months ago, but I've come to realize that this is a pretty popular "connection" that people make on their own - between Detroit/Dearborn and Toronto.  



Date: 11/05/19 19:05
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

I haven't plotted it out, but I think, distance wise, you do better using the station in Dearborn and the Ambassador Bridge.  I did it in the reverse direction many years ago.  The VIA train was still using MLW FAs.  



Date: 11/06/19 01:35
Re: In progress trip report on an attempt to ride VIA/Amtrak via
Author: ghCBNS

jp1822 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ......... I wasn't too keen on first hearing this
> suggestion a couple of months ago, but I've come
> to realize that this is a pretty popular
> "connection" that people make on their own -
> between Detroit/Dearborn and Toronto.  

One only need to walk through the parking lot at the Windsor Station and look at the number of Michigan plated cars. Especially over a weekend!



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