December 24, 2019

On August 5, 2019 Peter Fletcher began as Director as the LaCrosse/ LaCrescent Metropolitan Planning Organization.  Fletcher replaces Tom Faella who retired December 31, 2018.

LaCrosse is an important stop for Amtrak and the State of Wisconsin with over 25,000 on/offs for Fiscal Year 2018, the last year data is available.  LaCrosse County and the MPO also contributed $30,000 in the early stages of the TCMC Environmental Impact Studies, declaring their vote for another train.

Fletcher brings to the LaCrosse area a strong resume.  His Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee in 1993 is just a start.  He was the Planning Director for Trempealeau County (WI) from 1993-97 and the Senior Planner for the Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission from 2004-2019.

Peter Fletcher in August IMG_0261LaCrosse MPO information sheet

WisARP will be inviting Fletcher to speak at a future General Membership Meeting.

The two attachments on this post include:  A one page PDF file brief explaining the LaCrosse/ LaCrescent Urbanized Area, and a picture of Left, Terry Brown, WisARP Vice-President Public Relations and Right, Peter Fletcher, Director of the LaCrosse MPO, taken August 22, 2019.


Empire Builder #7 Westbound On-Time numbers for 2019


UPDATED April 30, 2020 – Sorry for fumbling the complete 2019 chart for the westbound Empire Builder.  It should be the chart that populates below. 

The Empire Builder westbound #7 performed well in October and November, but slipped a bit in December for the Holidays.  But the average minutes late in December was still a tolerable 23 minutes. 

Westbound7 OnTime Performance 2019

For those of you that attended the WisARP Membership meeting in Madison on Saturday, October 26, you saw my presentation debuted an On-Time chart for the Empire Builder #7 westbound.  This chart was created to demonstrate expectations for the TCMC train running just between Chicago and St. Paul (MSP).

The Empire Builder #8 eastbound has its own issues with scheduling, which easily distracts us trying to gauge the 400 miles between St. Paul (MSP) and Chicago.  The #7 chart should more clearly demonstrate how well Canadian Pacific is likely to take care of the TCMC train.  CP with Metra would be the dispatchers for the TCMC train.

For the month of November 2019, the Empire Builder #7 running to St. Paul had another very good month.  A route of over 400 miles with 83 percent of the trains on time, and an average of just 10 minutes late.  Very Nice!!  Use the link above to see the full chart for 2019.

Empire Builder #8 On-Time numbers for November 2019

December 12, 2019 – For those of you that attended the WisARP Membership meeting in Madison on Saturday, October 26, you saw my On-Time charts for the Empire Builder, both the #7 westbound and #8 eastbound.  For the #8 Builder, the days of heavy freight interference from high numbers of oil trains is over, but late running Amtrak trains isn’t over.

For the month of November 2019, overall the chart looks very good!  There were still a half-dozen days of seriously late trains, which I guess is apt to happen.  When you consider a 2200 mile trip through the mountains with little or no pressure to maintain performance, aging equipment with maintenance needs; it is likely to produce late trains without any other interference.

As discussed at the meeting, for Amtrak riders needing to get to Chicago to make a connection to another Amtrak train leaving late afternoon/ early evening, the TCMC as it is currently scheduled will not be a solution.  The only viable solution right now is writing your lawmakers in Washington D.C. to re-enact some teeth in Amtrak’s On-Time performance standards for the host freight railroads.

Eastbound8 Frequently Late chart nov2019  rpa-amtrak_ON TIME PERF_v8

Check out the YouTube link below from a recent House subcommittee meeting on Freight trains.  The exchange between Rep. DeFazio and AAR President Jefferies that’s roughly in the middle of the clip offers some hope.  Happy Holidays to all!!

Terry Brown, Vice-President Public Relations