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Home > Blog > Exhibit Train Blog, 2011-2012 > Wilmington, DE, March 31 and April 1

Wilmington, DE, March 31 and April 1

Posted by admin at Apr 11, 2012 11:35 AM |
A major employee hub, Wilmington is a great place to see Amtrak at work—and to catch-up with friends old and new.
The Exhibit Train resting at the Wilmington platform; the stations signature clock tower rises on the right above the canopies and roofs
Model train display at Wilmington showcases an Amtrak consist
Family Day for Amtrak employees featured a delicious cookout

The Exhibit Train resting at the Wilmington platform; the stations signature clock tower rises on the right above the canopies and roofs

Model train display at Wilmington showcases an Amtrak consist

Family Day for Amtrak employees featured a delicious cookout

Left to right: Bert DiClemente, Amtrak Board of Directors; Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman; APD Sergeant John Cullinan; and John Mattoccia
NCPU 406, attached to the Exhibit Train, behind the nose of the Acela locomotive
Family Day for Amtrak employees featured a delicious cookout

Left to right: Bert DiClemente, Amtrak Board of Directors; Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman; APD Sergeant John Cullinan; and John Mattoccia

NCPU 406, attached to the Exhibit Train, behind the nose of the Acela locomotive

A clown (a CNOC employee) performed for the children

We’d been looking forward to the Exhibit Train stop in Wilmington for weeks because the city is home to hundreds of employees working in the Consolidated National Operations Center (CNOC), High-Speed Rail Training Facility, Bear and Wilmington maintenance and repair shops and rail yards, and the train station that was beautifully renovated last year and renamed in honor of Vice President of the United States Joseph Biden, Jr. As a senator from Delaware, Biden often rode the train back and forth to the nation’s capital, and thus knew the station well.

CNOC is the nerve center of Amtrak operations with numerous “desks” (work groups) overseeing various aspects of the nation’s intercity passenger rail network. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, the two Train Movements Desks monitor trains in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southern, Central, Southwest, and Pacific divisions to track service disruptions and on-time performance.

The Locomotive Desk watches over approximately 400 locomotives while the Car Desk has responsibility for more than 1,700 pieces of equipment across the country. A group of employees keeps an eye on freight trains moving over Amtrak-owned tracks while others take care of dispatching for the Train and Engine and On-Board Service Crews. CNOC also manages charter train movements, Amtrak Thruway bus scheduling, and changes to the national schedules. The Customer Service Desk located at CNOC issues Twitter messages for service interruptions on the Northeast Corridor to keep passengers informed of unexpected delays.

At the High-Speed Rail Training Facility, engineers, conductors and on-board staff train for Acela Express service. It houses a full-scale motion simulator that duplicates the experience of operating Acela Express trains from inside the cab, an on-board service-training lab complete with seats, tables and food preparation areas, and nine classrooms.

All Amfleet cars—the rounded ones familiar to most passengers east of the Mississippi River—as well as all electric locomotives used on the Northeast Corridor, are maintained, repaired, and overhauled at the Bear and Wilmington shops adjacent to downtown. Highly skilled employees are experts in air brake valve refurbishment, HVAC overhaul and electric and diesel locomotive rebuilds. Other specialties include car overhaul, interior upgrades, root cause analysis and equipment painting and trim work. Passengers in the west may be more familiar with the bi-level Superliner equipment, which is maintained at another Amtrak facility in Beech Grove, Ind.

The presence of the Exhibit Train provided a great opportunity to hold a special Employee Appreciation Day to thank everyone for their hard work and contributions that made last year one of Amtrak’s most successful ever—in FY 2011, ridership broke all previous records to reach 30.2 million passenger trips. Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman was on hand to speak to the crowd and meet with families during lunch. He was joined by Bert DiClemente, a member of Amtrak’s Board of Directors, as well as Thomas Carper, one of Delaware’s U.S. Senators.

Although Saturday was a bit overcast, employees volunteered to fire up the grills and briskly turn out hotdogs and hamburgers. The party atmosphere was enhanced by the talents of an employee-turned-DJ who took requests and got people dancing. Kids enjoyed the routine of a clown (another CNOC employee) dressed in colorful polka dots and stripes, while adults and children alike had their faces painted with whatever they could dream up.

Employees also volunteered their time to staff the Exhibit Train, welcoming visitors and answering questions about the objects on display. The historic station, especially the trackside waiting room, hummed with activity as people stopped to look at the displays set up by our stop partners, including DART Transit, Operation Lifesaver Delaware and the National Association of Railroad Passengers. The Northern Delaware Model Railroad Club and the Delaware Large Scalers Garden Railroad Club set up layouts that caught the eye of visitors young and old—they of course featured Amtrak trains gliding along the rails.

A number of local museums and cultural institutions also distributed brochures and told visitors about their programs and activities. Among them were the Hagley Museum and Library, World Café Live at the Queen and the Wilmington and Western Railroad, as well as two station neighbors, the Delaware Theatre Company and the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. The Wilmington station, designed by Philadelphia architect Frank Furness, has long been a landmark along the Christina River. Known for dozens of railroad commissions, Furness had earlier drawn up plans for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad depot on West Street. Representatives of the Friends of the Furness Railroad District excitedly told attendees about the history of the two stations. They pointed out special decorative features and described how Furness impacted American architecture in the Victorian Era.

Our next stop takes us to Longview, Texas, where we’re proud to be part of a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of a project that will see the city’s old depot renovated into a modern intermodal facility. Hope to see you there!

--PK