Late Wednesday: Amtrak's late, later, and canceled
Christmas Eve update: This morning, the Northeast Regional departed 7 minutes late but arrived on time in Washington; the Crescent departed 2 minutes late but arrived 28 minutes early.
Since the Hook provided a slideshow of the popular 8:49am Northeast Regional train's nearly on-time departure on Monday, it seems only fair to follow up with few less sunny details.
First, not only was the 7:20am Crescent booked up on Monday, it was running 5 hours and 37 minutes late into Washington.
On Tuesday, the Crescent was canceled; the Northeast Regional was 58 minutes late into Washington.
Today, Wednesday, the Crescent was 2 hours and 45 minutes late to D.C. By that standard, the NE Regional's 1 hour, 20-minute late arrival was looking good.
How about the Cardinal, the train that runs east and west? The Chicago-originating train never made it to Charlottesville on December 20.
"On Sunday, it made it as far as Huntington, West Virginia," says Amtrak spokesperson Tracy Connell, "before the weather was too bad, and it terminated in Huntington and turned around and went back."
The same thing was happening Wednesday, according to a rep at 800-USA-RAIL, who says that passengers were getting off the train in Huntington. They should be on time to Washington–- but they'll be arriving by motor coach, he says.
The Crescent typically runs on time about 80 percent of the time. The Cardinal has made incredible strides–- at least by its own standards–- over the past years. Around this time last year, it had recently jumped from 18 to 35 percent on-time rating. In the last 12 months, however, it's achieved a 59 percent rating–- with November's trains hitting their mark 88 percent of the time.
The good news is that the Cardinal's snow woes aren't the fault of the Buckingham Branch, the Dillwyn-based railroad that operates the east-west tracks through Charlottesville as far west as Clifton Forge. Still, the company leader admits that the snow fell heavy enough to halt trains early Saturday morning, and indeed there were blockages.
"We pretty much worked on it all day Sunday and most of the day [Monday] to get it back," says Steve Powell. "The main thing was trees down that we had to cut as we went along."
Powell notes the snow was so deep that instead of using its usual road-rail vehicles for the repairs, he had to send out "light locomotives," i.e. an engine without cars, to get the work done.
–-updated 10:33am Thursday with historical on-time data