Author Topic: Eclipse Express sells out  (Read 702 times)


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Eclipse Express sells out
« on: August 07, 2017, 08:47:30 PM »
Proof that people will pay for rail travel to special events......

Amtrak announced the "Eclipse Express" taking people to the center of the eclipse.  It sold out immediately (<24 hours).

Amtrak announces 'Eclipse Express' special to southern Illinois

CHICAGO — Amtrak has sold out a special train to southern Illinois catering to travelers who want to see a total solar eclipse on U.S. soil. Following protracted negotiations finalizing operating and logistical details with host railroad Canadian National, Amtrak on Sunday announced that it would run an additional round-trip, the Eclipse Express from Chicago to Carbondale, Ill., on Aug. 21. That trip sold-out within 24 hours, Amtrak officials say.

The southern Illinois city is situated a few miles from the Makanda, Ill., location where the moon will pass in front of the sun for the longest duration of totality anywhere in the United States.

The southbound special, designated No. 399 in Amtrak’s reservation system and available for sale since Sunday afternoon, will depart Chicago at 3 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Carbondale at 8:30 a.m., making one stop at Champaign, Ill. along the way at 5:05 a.m.

The first phase of the eclipse begins at 12:52 p.m., reaching totality between 1:20:07 p.m. and 1:22:44 p.m., with the partial phase ending at 2:47 p.m.

The daily southbound Saluki, scheduled to depart Chicago daily at 8:15 a.m., has a scheduled Carbondale arrival at 1:45 p.m., past the period of totality. For the last two weeks, the train has arrived more than 30 minutes late 50 percent of the time, suffering the longest delay on July 28 when it was over an hour late.

The special’s allotted time traveling to Carbondale is exactly the same as the Saluki, despite making eight fewer stops. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari tells Trains News Wire that the Eclipse Express is not departing later because, “There is a lot going on in Carbondale and the surrounding area that day. This schedule enables a full day in Williamson County without affecting our other services.”

Those events include an “Eclipse Day” celebration at Southern Illinois University’s Saluki Stadium, a Family Fun Zone area and Shadowfest, all within walking distance of the station.

The return special to Chicago, train No. 398, will depart Carbondale at 5:15 p.m. one hour after the regularly-scheduled Illini, also only stopping at Champaign.

Unlike other Illinois corridor trains, the Eclipse Express will not carry pets or bicycles and won’t have business class seating, but it will have a café car. Magliari has promised that overhead lighting in the coaches will be turned off for early morning snoozers.

One way fares from Chicago to Carbondale start at $65 ($38 from Champaign) southbound train, but northbound pricing is only being offered at $88 ($52 to Champaign).

Amtrak’s northbound Illini, train 392, has been sold out on Aug. 21 for weeks, even after heavy demand prompted the company to add an extra coach to bring capacity up to 340. Since the special is bypassing other intermediate stations, travelers from Homewood to Gilman, Ill., and Mattoon to DuQuoin, Ill., can’t make a same-day round-trip.

If Amtrak, the state, and CN had agreed to reschedule the southbound Saluki earlier months ago, there would not be the existing imbalance of traffic on Aug 21 which made running a special train a necessity. If that happened and demand was heavy enough, extra sections could have been added to satisfy it. Between Aug. 1 and Aug 18, the northbound morning Saluki is scheduled two hours earlier to accommodate track reconstruction north of Champaign.

Although some Carbondale hotels have been sold out for nearly a year and just a handful of rooms within 100 miles of the city have been available for months, Amtrak only announced its co-sponsorship of Carbondale events on June 27. Part of the involvement includes distribution on the Express of special glasses, which are necessary to prevent permanent eye damage from viewing the sun in its partial eclipse phase. They will be given out on the southbound Express.


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Re: Eclipse Express sells out
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2017, 06:51:54 PM »
Town requests CSX to delay trains during the eclipse.

Reading it I thought it was kind of funny that a town would want "silence" during a total eclipse.

But it was this remark (a quote) that really made me roll, especially knowing Hunter Harrison is in charge now.  Me thinks this spokesman isn't going to be around much longer.

“Freight trains do not operate on precise schedules so it is difficult to predict how many trains might pass through Hopkinsville that afternoon," CSX representative Rob Doolittle says.

As you may or may not be aware, Harrison wants to implement "precision railroading"

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. — Aug. 21 is the Great American Eclipse: The first total solar eclipse in history that’s only visible from the U.S. With 200 million Americans living a day’s drive from totality, NASA predicts this will also be the most viewed eclipse in history. It begins in Oregon and ends in South Carolina. At the center — what scientists call the point of greatest eclipse — is Hopkinsville, Ky., former L&N stop on the Evansville to Nashville mainline, currently served by CSX Transportation.

Hopkinsville has known the eclipse was coming for 10 years. But with less than a month to go, city leaders still aren’t sure what’s going on with the trains.

CSX’s freight line cuts straight through the heart of Hopkinsville, a rural town with roads built for the 31,577 people who live there. But the city expects more than 100,000 guests — which means traffic will be bad long before passing trains block roads.

“We have a very active railroad in our community,” says Hopkinsville Solar Eclipse Marketing and Events Consultant Brooke Jung. “The railroad adds to the charm of our wonderful community.”

As much as Hopkinsville loves its train, the city did ask CSX “to potentially delay the train schedule during the 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality and immediately prior to and after, to ensure a more direct connection with nature for our guests.”

During a total solar eclipse, the sky grows blacker than black — the moon completely covers the sun after all — and the point of greatest eclipse is where it will be blackest. Guests are coming to Hopkinsville from 36 states and 14 countries to be in the dark. The last thing they want is a loud freight train with a bright headlight barrelling through.

Federal — laws regulate train operations, so the most Hopkinsville could do was ask politely. In January, the city’s eclipse transportation committee asked CSX if the train could stop during totality.

The city soon learned that might not be for the best, though, and changed its request.

“Since we have such an active train system, that would just cause more delays with regards to traffic. We talked about potentially adjusting the train schedule, just to ensure that the train [horn] didn’t blow during totality, as we thought that should be a serene moment, if possible," Jung says. "So there is really only about a 10-minute window of time that we requested to halt the train, if it was even scheduled to run at that time.”

That’s a big if. Totality starts at 1:24:41 p.m. local time and ends at 1:26:51 p.m. That’s a pretty tight window.

“Freight trains do not operate on precise schedules so it is difficult to predict how many trains might pass through Hopkinsville that afternoon," CSX representative Rob Doolittle says.

But with the way celestial mechanics work, the moon doesn’t cover the sun — POOF — for a moment, then disappear. At 11:56:05 a.m. Central, it will gradually begin to move in front of the sun, casting its shadow on the earth, and will continue to cover areas of the sun until 2:51:16 p.m. That “serene moment” could last three hours — a wide enough of a window for a railroad company to know whether a regularly scheduled train is coming through.

“Our plan is to conduct normal train operations,” Doolittle says, meaning Hopkinsville’s answer is no. Meanwhile, the city’s thinks CSX is still deciding. Local CSX officials were "going to take the request back to his team,” says Jung. “We don’t have a timeline.”

Of course, there might not be the need to stop any train or to ask CSX not to sound the horn.

“This could all be a non-issue if no train is scheduled during that time, which very well may be the case,” says Jung.

How many trains might — or might not — come through Hopkinsville on Aug. 21 is an answer the city’s still waiting for. Whether they get that information or not, two things are certain: Aug. 21, the moon will move across the sky and thousands of tourists will watch it. In the meantime, city leaders are in the dark.