Trains in Champaign Not Quite as Late as They Were

Passengers board the southbound Illini at the Champaign-Urbana station on May 17, 2000.

The on-time performance of Amtrak’s trains in the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor improved slightly in 2018 but not by much.

The News-Gazette of Champaign-Urbana used the online Amtrak Status Maps Archive Database to show that Amtrak’s six trains serving those cities during most of 2018 were about 34 minutes late on average.

That was a slight improvement from the average lateness of 36 minutes in 2017.

However, the newspaper said the average lateness upon departure varied considerably among the trains.

It said the City of New Orleans departed Champaign an average of 42 minutes late northbound but just 19 minutes late southbound.

But it was the opposite pattern for the state-funded Illini and Saluki.

The northbound Saluki left average of 24 minutes late northbound but 49 minutes late southbound.

The northbound Illini was, on average, 35 minutes late northbound and 37 minutes late southbound during 2018.

The News-Gazette report said many of the delays could be attributed to host railroad Canadian National. Amtrak contends CN is one of its worst host carrier with freight trains delaying Amtrak on 90 percent of the trips made on the route via Champaign.

Amtrak contends that CN contributes an average of 26 minutes of delay per day.

But some of the delays are also caused by longer than scheduled loading and unloading of passengers.

That is particularly an issue in Champaign, which serves the University of Illinois, a major generator of traffic in the Chicago-Carbondale corridor.

The newspaper found that the longest delay of 2018 through Dec. 21 occurred on Oct. 4 when the northbound City left Champaign 9 hours and 37 minutes late.

The longest delay for No. 59 was 6 hours, 18 minutes on Dec. 17. The longest delays for the Saluki were 3 hours, 4 minutes northbound on June 290 and 3 hours, 14 minutes southbound on Nov. 21.

The Illini’s record 2018 tardiness northbound was 3 hours, 4 minutes on Nov. 22 and 4 hours, 30 minutes on June 29.

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