In 1977-1978, Amtrak resorted to litigation to force the Missouri Pacific (now Union Pacific) to operate Amtrak trains at 75 mph rather than arbitrarily limiting passenger trains to the 60 mph freight train speed limit which was then in effect. After a favorable court ruling, Amtrak in April 1978 implemented a faster schedule for Chicago-San Antonio passenger service. Since that time, over three hours have been given back to Union Pacific, and the schedule change effective October 25 will give back a substantial amount of additional schedule time. The Union Pacific (Missouri Pacific) has a twenty-three year record of abusing all scheduling concessions secured from Amtrak for this route, as evidenced by the Texas Eagle's past history of dismal on-time performance.
It is generally conceded that the present Texas Eagle schedule already has sufficient "extra" time to accommodate the marginally greater starting and stopping requirements of a longer train. The additional schedule time which will be added in October is a concession to the Union Pacific by Amtrak in an attempt to minimize Union Pacific's irrational opposition to Amtrak's express initiative. Once given this more leisurely schedule, Union Pacific management must be held accountable for failure to operate the Texas Eagle in a timely manner at all stations en route. It shall not be acceptable to continue the Union Pacific's frequent practice of allowing the train to become two or three hours late at intermediate stations and then providing favorable dispatching for the remainder of the trip so that the train arrives at the endpoint terminals on time. Passengers boarding in Little Rock or Longview are entitled to on-time performance just as much as passengers boarding in Chicago or San Antonio. It should also be understood that no additional time should be required in the future for brief station stops at Newport and Hope, Arkansas, should a decision be made to restore Amtrak service to the newly refurbished rail passenger stations in those cities.
In the event of failure by Union Pacific to properly operate the train (excepting delays caused by Amtrak mechanical failure or holding for connecting trains) Amtrak management must be prepared to enforce terms of the contract with the Union Pacific through court action, formal complaints to the Surface Transportation Board and the Federal Railroad Administration, or any other effective course of action.
The new schedule provides generally good arrival and departure times for stations north of San Antonio, but the 1:32am San Antonio arrival time is particularly undesirable. An earlier departure from Chicago is not possible without breaking important connections from western trains, which would be even more undesirable. Restoration of a through coach and sleeping car for passengers traveling on both the Eagle and the Sunset Limited would greatly reduce the negative impact of the San Antonio times. For accounting purposes, these through cars (and all related costs and revenues) should be considered as strictly Texas Eagle cars between Chicago and San Antonio and strictly Sunset Limited cars between San Antonio and Los Angeles. A basic Eagle consist of at least two coaches and one sleeper (in addition to a diner and sightseer lounge) should continue to operate in Chicago-San Antonio service, so that it would be possible to operate an on-time train #22 from San Antonio in cases where the eastbound Sunset Limited is excessively late. [The Sunset Limited also operates over the Union Pacific Railroad, and like the Eagle, has been plagued by horrendous timekeeping problems due to freight train interference in recent months.]
For comparison purposes, the following schedule shows the present schedule (21/22old) and the new schedule (21/22new) which will become effective October 25, 1997.
21new 21old STATIONS 22old 22new 630pm 630pm Chicago 115pm 135pm 725pm 725pm Joliet 12noon 1201pm 847pm 850pm Bloomington 1035am 1027am 1002pm 1002pm Springfield 918am 910am 1113pm 1113pm Alton 758am 748am 1225am 1225am Av St. Louis Lv 710am 659am 100am 100am Lv St. Louis Av 620am 607am 510am 448am Poplar Bluff 209am 154am 606am 542am Walnut Ridge 105am 1249am Newport 827am 808am Little Rock 1102pm 1049pm 918am 853am Malvern 950pm 934pm 940am 914am Arkadelphia 927pm 910pm Hope 1107am 1039am Texarkana 812pm 751pm 1224pm 1154pm Marshall 648pm 633pm 101pm 1229pm Longview 616pm 600pm 148pm 114pm Mineola 445pm 427pm 341pm 305pm Av Dallas Lv 333pm 315pm 401pm 315pm Lv Dallas Av 325pm 255pm 536pm 438pm Av Ft. Worth Lv 225pm 150pm 601pm 458pm Lv Ft. Worth Av 205pm 125pm 648pm 544pm Cleburne 103pm 1221pm 756pm 651pm McGregor 1153am 1109am 842pm 735pm Temple 1125am 1035am 942pm 834pm Taylor 1020am 932am 1038pm 928pm Austin 930am 841am 1118pm 1007pm San Marcos 840am 750am 122am 1159pm San Antonio 700am 600am
Prepared for Arkansas Rail by
Posted: Saturday, 30 August 1997; revised 4 January 1998.
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