Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak baggage cars’

End of the Line in Carbondale

January 11, 2020

It is a Saturday in June 1979 and just for the fun of it I bought a round-trip ticket to ride Nos. 391 and 392 between Mattoon and Carbondale, Illinois.

Carbondale was the southern terminus for Amtrak’s Shawnee.

I’ve just disembarked from No. 391 in Carbondale. An Illinois Central Gulf locomotive will attach to the rear of the Amtrak train and pull it north to turn on a wye in preparation for its return to Chicago at 4 p.m.

In retrospect I wish I had made this photograph on the other side of the grade crossing.

But then again I can appreciate now the view of the wooden arms that railroads once used on crossing gates and how they were painted black and white. Note that this set of crossing arms is partly painted red and white.

Also note in the photograph a passing northbound ICG freight train and the approaching ICG locomotive that will attach to the rear of No. 391.

Also on this day the Shawnee had a baggage car, which it typically did not except during peak travel periods.

Working the Baggage Car

January 4, 2020

An Amtrak station agent loads baggage onto the baggage car of Train No. 353, then named the Lake Cities.

At the time some trains in the Chicago-Detroit corridor offered checked baggage service, but that has since ended.

No. 353 still runs but is now named Wolverine Service and no longer originates in Toledo, Ohio, as it once did.

At one time the Lake Cities ran between Chicago and Toledo, offering connections at the latter to and from Michigan points with the Lake Shore Limited.

Baggage Car Now Operating on The Pennsylvanian

October 2, 2019

Amtrak has added a baggage car and checked luggage service to the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

The service, which began on Oct. 1, provides checked luggage service at Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Altoona, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Newark and New York.

The baggage car also has space to carry up to six bicycles, which can be checked for a $20 fee to any of the aforementioned stations.

Checking of bikes and luggage is only available at stations that still have a station agent.

An online reported indicated that the baggage car was added at the insistence of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which helps to fund the Pennsylvanian.

3 Generations of Amtrak Liveries

August 23, 2019

It wasn’t until I was processing this photograph after downloading it from my camera that I discovered that I had captured three generations of Amtrak liveries on the baggage cars on the rear of the northbound Saluki at Pesotum, Illinois.

Those baggage cars are not carrying anything, but are riding along to meet a host railroad-mandated minimum axle count to ensure that grade crossing circuits are properly tripped as a train approaches.

Getting Lucky

August 9, 2019

At first glance this might appear to be another run of the mill image of an Amtrak train.

It’s the southbound Saluki rushing through Pesotum, Illinois, on its daily trek from Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois.

But take another look at that intermediate signal. It is displaying two indications simultaneously of clear and stop.

I probably could not have planned this image if I had tried. I just happened to catch the signal head as it was transitioning from one signal indication to another and, apparently, green comes on a millisecond or two before the red goes out.

Those baggage cars, by the way, are not carrying anything. They are on the train to meet a Canadian National mandated minimum axle count.

Bound for Miami

May 19, 2019

Amtrak’s Silver Meteor rushes past the Newark Liberty Airport station without even slowing down.

No. 97 is bound for Miami and assuming it doesn’t lose any significant time en route will be halting at its destination in more than 24 hours.

Boston LSL Section to Lose Check Baggage Service

December 22, 2018

Checked baggage service will end on the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited on Jan. 7, 2019.

That will leave Northeast Regional Nos. 65, 66 and 67 as the only trains serving Boston South Station with checked baggage service.

Affected by the change to Nos. 448 and 449 will be passengers traveling to South Station and stations in Massachusetts in Worcester and Springfield.

Amtrak’s national carry-on baggage policy limits passengers to two bags not exceeding 50 pounds each plus two personal items not exceeding 25 pounds each.

The New York section of the Lake Shore Limited will continue offering checked baggage service between Chicago and New York and at select intermediate stations.

Vanishing Sight

January 23, 2018

All of Amtrak’s long-distance trains carry baggage cars. Given that these cars are new Viewliner equipment that went into service in the past few years, it is likely that Amtrak trains will continue to carry baggage cars and offer checked baggage for the foreseeable future.

But rapidly vanishing at intermediate stations is the practice of the local station agent wheeling a baggage cart out to the platform to load and unload bags on the train’s baggage car.

Shown is an Amtrak agent at Minot, North Dakota, loading a box aboard the westbound Empire Builder in May 2014.

As Amtrak tells the story, it has pulled its agents from many stations because most passengers are buying their tickets online. Many passengers are using their smart phones for their tickets rather than using paper.

So, the story goes, there is less need to have agents at stations that sell few tickets. With the disappearance of agents have also come the end of check baggage at those stations.

In some instances, an Amtrak conductor can check items, such as bicycles. But in most towns served by Amtrak, checked luggage has become another relic of history.

Last Days of the North Coast Hiawatha

February 8, 2017

north-coast-hiawatha-september-23-1979-02

The trip was somewhat bittersweet. It is Sept. 23, 1979. I am aboard the westbound North Coast Hiawatha en route to Seattle.

The North Coast Hi has less than a month to live, soon to become a victim of a massive Amtrak route restructuring that will end it, the Lone Star, the National Limited, the Floridian, the Hilltopper and the Champion.

I bought a ticket aboard No. 9 to ride the train before it ended. I rode in coach from Chicago to St. Paul and then had a roomette to Seattle.

We are somewhere in Montana on the former Northern Pacific, which at the time was controlled by Burlington Northern.

I made a few images from an open vestibule window as the train snaked through the mountains. I have not been back here since.

The Cardinal Lands in Charlottesville

September 21, 2016

cardinal-july-2012

It is a July afternoon in Charlottesville, Virginia. Amtrak’s tri-weekly Cardinal is scheduled to arrive from both Chicago and New York.

In fact, the Cardinal calls in Charlottesville in both directions three days a week, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. That is not the case on the western end of the route where the Cardinal arrives in Chicago on Monday, but doesn’t depart again until Tuesday.

Otherwise, Nos. 50 and 51 arrives and departs Chicago on the same day, Thursday and Saturday.

I had some free time during a vacation trip so I made it a point to venture to the Amtrak station to catch the Cardinal. It is a train I used to ride when I lived in Indianapolis, but since leaving there in 1991 I seldom see the Cardinal.

On this day, No. 50 has its then standard consist of one P42DC, a Heritage Fleet baggage car, one Viewliner sleeper, a food service car and three Amfleet II coaches.

Since making this image four years, ago, the Heritage Fleet baggage car has been replaced by a Viewliner baggage car and the train now seems to routinely have two Viewliner sleepers.

It has been a long time since the Cardinal had a full-service dining car. Maybe it will get one when the new Viewliner dining car order is completed by CAF USA. And maybe the dining car will arrive, but the food service will be little different than it is today.

Change in Amtrak service on trains such as the Cardinal seems to be incremental. This train is unlikely to ever be confused with the George Washington, the one-time premier train of the Chesapeake & Ohio, whose tracks the Cardinal uses between Cincinnati and Washington.

But then maybe it doesn’t need to be. Given the history of the Cardinal and how political pressure is all that saved it back in the 1980s, having any service at all is a good thing.