Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Horizon coaches’

Will Horizon Fleet Get a New Look?

December 29, 2017

Amtrak has gotten a fair amount of publicity about its revamping of the interiors of its Amfleet equipment. But will that look be applied to the interiors of Heritage fleet coaches that are ubiquitous on Midwest corridor trains? And will Superliner equipment get a new look? Goodness knows it sure could use it.

It is not that these interiors look bad or are unappealing. But Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson has indicated that he learned during his airline industry days that the interior needs to be refreshed every once in a while so that passengers don’t feel like they are riding in something that is multiple decades old.

Shown is a Horizon fleet coach assigned to the southbound Illini, which is sitting in Chicago Union Station waiting to depart for Carbondale, Illinois.


Statehouse at Joliet

August 11, 2017

The southbound  St. Louis-bound Statehouse rolls into Joliet Union Station on June 19, 1998. Aside from the Phase III livery on the P42DC locomotive, the scene is similar in appearance to today in that some Chicago-St. Louis passenger trains feature a mix of Horizon coaches and Anfleet food service cars.

The Statehouse was funded in part by the State of Illinois and at the time operated on a mid-day schedule.

One Morning in Crawfordsville, Indiana

March 6, 2017
Amtrak train No. 851 approaches the Crawfordsville station in August 2011.

Amtrak train No. 851 approaches the Crawfordsville station in August 2011.

When I lived in Indiana between 1983 and 1991, Amtrak’s Hoosier State was a part of my life for periodic day trips from Indianapolis to Chicago.

I actually preferred to ride the Cardinal because it had a full-service dining car and slumber coaches, which offered a reasonable fare for a return trip to Indy.

But the Cardinal only ran three days a week so more often than not I wound up going to Chicago on the Hoosier State.

After leaving Indiana for Pennsylvania and, later, Ohio, I rarely saw the Hoosier State again.

I followed its story from afar, including how it was discontinued in 1995 only to be brought back because operating a hospital train to and from Beech Grove shops in suburban Indianapolis didn’t work out so well.

In August 2011 I was on my way to Illinois. I stayed overnight in Indianapolis and got up early the next morning to get to Crawfordsville before No. 851 did.

The sun wasn’t yet above the tree line when the Hoosier State arrived, but there was enough light to document the coming and going of the train.

Since making these images, the Hoosier State has had a rough ride at times with the latest development being the takeover of the train by Iowa Pacific Holdings in July 2015.

IP won high marks for its on-board service, but the Indiana Department of Transportation declined IP’s request for more money.

So IP pulled out and Amtrak has resumed operation of the Hoosier State. Actually, Amtrak was never completely out of the picture with Nos. 850 and 851 because it provided the operating crews and handled relationships with the host railroads.

So now what was the usual state of affairs in Crawfordsville is back again. Here is a look back at a morning not too long ago when the Hoosier State came calling.

A typical Amshack that is so typical in smaller cities served by Amtrak.

A typical Amshack that is so typical in smaller cities served by Amtrak.

The old Monon station is no longer used by Amtrak.

The old Monon station is no longer used by Amtrak.

All aboard for Chicago and all intermediate stops.

All aboard for Chicago and all intermediate stops.

And away it goes to its next stop in Lafayette.

And away it goes to its next stop in Lafayette.

A ;l;ast look at the train, which has two cars being ferried from Beech Grove to Chicago.

A ;l;ast look at the train, which has two cars being ferried from Beech Grove to Chicago.

Getting Settled Aboard the Southbound Illini

January 31, 2017


Boarding is well underway for Amtrak train No. 393, the Illini, at Chicago Union Station. En route to Carbondale, Illinois, the train will make intermediate stops in Homewood, Kankakee, Gilman, Rantoul, Champaign-Urbana, Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia and DuQuoin before it ties up for the night.

I’ll be getting off in Mattoon to visit my Dad. It will be my final trip to see him in my hometown for in a couple months he will move top Arizona and my method of conveyance to go see him will be an Airbus or Boeing 737.

Between April 1994 and March 2014, I would regularly ride Amtrak from my home in Cleveland to visit my Dad.

The Illini was a constant during that period of time, leaving in late afternoon at 4 p.m. and later 4:05 p.m.

Most of the time I would ride in a Horizon fleet coach similar to one although during a few trips I bought a business class seat in what was often an Amfleet food service car.

Some day the Horizon equipment might be gone from the Illinois corridor trains and this view will be dated. But as this is posted in early 2017, it remains state of the art.

Somewhat a Reminder of the Streamliner Era Equipment

January 11, 2017


Few people will confuse or equate an Amtrak Amfleet car with the equipment that was built during the streamliner era of American passenger trains.

Amfleet cars and what Amtrak described as its Heritage Fleet were built to different designs. But how does other Amtrak rolling stock compare?

When I ran across this photograph of the rear of a Horizon Fleet car on Amtrak’s Illini departing from the station at Mattoon, Illinois, I began comparing it with a streamliner era car.

I’ve seen many images over the year of a streamliner era passenger car as the last car on a departing train. Like the Horizon fleet, the streamliner era equipment had a boxy design with a rounded roof.

The diaphragm around the doorway that enabled passengers and crew members to move from one car to another are similar. Many trains in the streamliner era had a tail hose just as this Amtrak train does.

I’ve also seen rear markers lights on streamliner equipment similar to those on this Horizon car.

Streamliner equipment often had a folding gate that could be put into place if a car was the last one on the train. I don’t see that on this Horizon car.

In short there are differences, but enough similarities to remind me of passenger equipment from another era.

Anyone Want to Board No. 393?

January 2, 2017


The conductor of Amtrak train No. 393 looks over the platform in Mattoon, Illinois, to see if he has any more boarding passengers.

The Chicago to Carbondale Illini has discharged all of its passengers at Mattoon and will be underway southbound very shortly.

Most of those who got off here — myself included — got on in Chicago.

The station was built by the Illinois Central and is now owned by the City of Mattoon. The rails are now owned by Canadian National.

No One Boarding the Illini in Homewood

November 25, 2016


An Amtrak crew member is picking up the step box and will soon board the northbound Illini at Homewood, Illinois, as it departs for its final stop at Chicago Union Station. The date is Aug. 31, 1996.

Amtrak does not carry passengers from Homewood to Chicago except when they are connecting there with other Amtrak trains.

Homewood is shown as a discharge only station for the northbound Illini.

Some passengers who disembarked here are still lingering on the platform before walking down a stairway to a tunnel that leads to the station.

Another Edition of Train Time on Amtrak

October 10, 2016


Thousands of times a day an Amtrak train pulls into the station, passengers get off, passengers get on and the conductor gives the engineer a highball to move on to the next station.

It’s a ritual that has played out for more than four decades and more than a century if you go back to the era when railroads operated their own passenger trains.

There is nothing out of the ordinary about this moment in Mattoon, Illinois, involving the southbound Saluki.

The equipment on No. 391 will turn at Carbondale, Illinois, and return north as No. 392, the Illini. It will be the next train to play out this ritual on this platform today.

Tomorrow, it will play out again with a slightly different cast of characters.

Amtrak No. 1 on No. 380 at Highlands

September 30, 2016


There is something special about number one. Numero Uno often is used to designate the winner of something, often a sports team that won a championship.

Not many railroads have locomotives with roster numbers in the single digits. Most Amtrak locomotive roster numbers are three digits but an exception was made for the P42DC fleet, which began with No. 1

There is nothing out of the ordinary about P42DC No. 1 other than its number. Nonetheless, I was excited to see it leading the Illinois Zephyr past Highlands on the BNSF raceway in Chicago a few years ago.

Just over a year later I would see No. 1 again, this time in Portland Oregon. It would lead the Portland section of the Empire Builder eastward and I would ride behind it all the way to Chicago.

Ready to Highball Glenview

September 16, 2016


The station work for this northbound Hiawatha Service train is complete and the train has a clear signal just beyond the station in Glenview, Illinois.

Passenger trains are the primary rail traffic past this depot located along tracks now owned by Canadian Pacific, but once belonging to the Milwaukee Road.

Aside from Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service and the Chicago-Seattle/Portland¬†Empire Builder, Glenview is served by Metra commuter trains between Chicago and Fox Lake, Illinois.

In fact, I had ridden to Glenview on a Metra train and was spending some time there during a layover between Amtrak trains in Chicago.

The woman on the platform is probably waiting for a Metra train as they tended to run behind the Hiawathas out of Chicago Union Station.