Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Illinois service’

New Carlinville Station Close to Opening

October 6, 2017

A new Amtrak station in Carlinville, Illinois, is expected to open soon.

A least lease agreement between the city of Carlinville, which owns the building, and Union Pacific, which owns the ground, has been reached.

But the city must work out a lease agreement with Amtrak, but the negotiations have snagged over liability insurance.

“We’re still dilly dallying with the Amtrak lease of the station and the platforms,” said City attorney Rick Bertinetti.” Everything is pretty well getting ironed out in that agreement except for one significant major item that pertains to liability and insurance.”

Bertinetti said he placed language in the lease stating Amtrak would indemnify the city over anything that happens with regard to Amtrak’s use of the platform, its agents, its employees and its passengers.

“We do have a good clause in there as far as indemnity that they have approved,” he said. “Now, we’re just trying to put together what insurances we do have to carry and maintain in effect because of our other agreement to lease the property — the platform in particular — from Union Pacific Railroad.”

Mayor Deanna Demuzio said a meeting has been scheduled with an attorney from Amtrak.

“We hope to get everything finalized very, very soon. This is something we’ve been working on for over a year.”

The Carlinville City Council recently approved a stipulation by the Illinois Department of Transportation for a passenger information display system that will provide passengers with infromation regarding arriving and departing trains.

Bertinetti said the PIDS agreement had to be approved by the council since the displays are improvements to the property and included a grant received by the city.

“We don’t have any monetary obligation here, other than we are the owner,” he said. “We have to carry insurance on it and we’re basically responsible if it gets damaged, vandalized, stolen, something like that. We’ll carry insurance on it, just as we have to carry insurance on the station itself.

Carlinville is served by Amtrak’s Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

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Illinois Trains Making Detour in Galesburg

July 13, 2017

Amtrak’s Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg are making a 5.7 mile detour in Galesburg, Illinois, due to work on the new Main Street underpass.

As part of that project, a bridge is being built under the BNSF mainline for Main Street and tracks 2 and 3 are removed until at least noon on Friday.

The regular route for Nos. 380, 381, 382 and 383, uses Track No. 2 through the Galesburg Amtrak station, thus making a detour necessary through the Galesburg yard even it is never more than a half-mile away from the normal route.

Using an eastbound train as an example, the detour route begins at Saluda, the south end of the Galesburg yard complex, and takes the lead to the Graham Cut-off Line.

At the Graham Cut-off connection, Amtrak trains continue compass north, passing beneath the Waterman lead to the Graham Cut-off.
North of the underpass, Amtrak stays on the westernmost (compass direction) track, passing west of the hump and immediately east of the locomotive tracks at the Galesburg shops.

Amtrak trains then stay to the west, pass the Prospect Street switch under the West Third Street overpass, and turns northeast to enter the Ottumwa Subdivision mainline at the west end of A-Plant.

At that point, the trains cross over from Track 3 to Track 1 to serve the Amtrak station, which is unusual for these trains. Track 1 is currently the only open track through town on the former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy mainline.

Illini to Run an Hour Later on Weekdays

April 19, 2017

Amtrak’s Carbondale, Illinois, to Chicago Illini will operate an hour later between April 24 and May 12 due to Canadian National track work.

The schedule change affects only trains operating on Monday through Friday. The Saturday and Sunday schedule of No. 392 remains unchanged.

Arrival times at all intermediate stations will be an hour later.

The Illini is funded largely by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

 

Some Lincoln Service Trains, Texas Eagle to be Disrupted on Dec. 12 by Track Work

December 5, 2016

Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle will be disrupted on Dec. 12, 2016, due to track work.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgSome Lincoln Service passengers will ride chartered buses while the Eagle will be detoured.

The track work is related to the program to upgrade the Chicago-St. Louis route to allow a top speed of 110 miles per hour in some places.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that Trains 300, 301, 302 and 303 will be canceled with bus service replacing all trains (except Train 300) at all stations on the route.

The buses will depart earlier than their respective trains. Trains 304, 305, 306 and 307 will run on their normal schedules.

Passengers ticketed on the Texas Eagle to all intermediate stops between Chicago and St. Louis will have the option of riding on a Lincoln Service train or a chartered bus.

This affects passengers at the Illinois cities of Joliet, Pontiac, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville and Alton.

Texas Eagle passengers bound for Chicago or St. Louis will remain aboard the train. Amtrak advises that the Eagle might encounter delays of up to 45 minutes traveling on the detour route.

Moment in Time on the Panama Limited

October 19, 2016

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Amtrak dropped the Panama Limited name from its timetables in early 1981. It was time. Amtrak trains 58 and 59 hardly came close to offering the level of service that the Illinois Central had offered aboard its flagship Chicago-New Orleans passenger train.

Amtrak’s Chicago-New Orleans trains have never come close to offering the elite level of service that the IC offered. Then again, Amtrak didn’t need to offer that type of service, which it is ill suited to provide.

Shown is the northbound Panama Limited arriving in Mattoon, Illinois, in September 1977.

It is a low point in the train’s Amtrak history. Sleeping cars were removed in January 1977 when the train received Amfleet equipment. Also removed was the full-service diner. Passengers on this day had to be content with an Amcafe offering.

But the train had checked baggage service and sleepers would return in a few months.

It was common in the late 1970s for Nos. 58 and 59 to be pulled by a lone P30CH. Class unit No. 700 is doing the honors today as the baggage man watches the platform.

Some Lincoln Service Passengers to be Bused

March 2, 2016

Track work will result in some Lincoln Service passengers being transported by bus in mid-March.

Amtrak said the affected trains are Nos. 302, 303, 306 and 307 between St. Louis and Springfield.

Amtrak logoOn March 12, Train No. 307 will operate normally from Chicago to Springfield, but passengers will be bused to St. Louis and all intermediate stations.

On March 13, Trains 302 and 306 will be replaced with bus service at all stations from St. Louis to Springfield. At Springfield, passengers will board their respective train to their destination.

The buses are expected to leave earlier than the published times for the trains in order to allow for adequate connection time in Springfield.

Trains 303 and 307 will operate normally from Chicago to Springfield where passengers will board buses for St. Louis and all intermediate stations.

On March 14, Trains 302 and 306 will be replaced with bus service at all stations from St. Louis to Springfield. At Springfield, passengers will board the respective train to their destination.

The buses will depart earlier than the published times for the trains.

Train No. 303 will operate normally from Chicago to Springfield with passengers bused to St. Louis and all intermediate stations.

Amtrak said in a service advisory that the track work is being undertaken by Union Pacific to perform track and signal upgrades in preparation for 110 mph speeds to the Lincoln Service route.

IDOT Intends to Finish High-Speed Rail Project

February 10, 2016

Despite a budget stalemate and the desire of the governor to reduce spending on Amtrak service, the Illinois Department of Transportation expects to spend all of the $1.1 billion in federal funds it has been awarded to upgrade the Chicago-St. Louis corridor to higher speed rail.

IDOT faces a Sept. 30, 2017, deadline to spend the money or else return to the federal government what it has not spent.

IDOTDuring a meeting in Lockport, Illinois, this week, IDOT officials said the budget standoff between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly won’t affect work on the high-speed rail project.

Scott Speegle, IDOT’s passenger rail marketing manager, said the department continues to work with the Federal Railroad Administration on the project and intends to meet the 2017 deadline.

Speegle spoke at the Gladys Fox Museum at the invitation of the Blackhawk Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

The high-speed rail program began in 2010 and involves upgrading the corridor in some places to a 110 mph top speed.

Illinois is providing $850 million of the cost of the $1.95 million project, which includes $637 million for track and structure improvements; $194 million for grade crossings, fencing and bridge improvements; and $609 million for rolling stock and equipment.

“I don’t think it’s a secret, certainly not to most folks, but right now we’re in some respects in a holding pattern primarily due to the [state’s] budget and financial situation,” Speegle said in reference to the budget fight.

Also in limbo are other rail and station improvement projects, including an extension of Amtrak service from Chicago to Rockford and the Quad Cities region.

“None have been canceled, but until funding is identified, they probably won’t be moving forward at this point any time soon,” Speegle said.

The Chicago-St. Louis corridor has 11 stations and is served by four daily Lincoln Service roundtrips and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Ground Broken for New Amtrak Station in Dwight

August 11, 2015

Groundbreaking was held today in Dwight, Illinois, for a new $3.77 million station to serve Amtrak.

The 800-square-foot depot will provide shelter and restrooms for Lincoln Service passengers. Seven trains stop in Dwight, which is located 92 miles southwest of Chicago Union Station.

“We believe that it’s an economic development grower,” said Village Administrator Kevin McNamara.

The original Dwight station still stands and is the home of the Dwight Main Street Program office. Built for the Chicago & Alton in 1891, the station features the stone architecture of its era.

The new Amtrak station in Dwight will be paid for with federal money meant to improve high-speed rail across the country.

Local officials hope that the new facility will encourage an increase in the number of people who commute to work in Chicago by rail.

Illinois Amtrak Trains Continue to Operate Despite Lack of Budget Agreement for FY 2016

July 7, 2015

Illinois still doesn’t have a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 and the governor has threatened to cut Amtrak funding by 40 percent.

But for now Amtrak’s state-funded trains in Illinois continue to run as before. Amtrak officials have indicated that that will be the case for at least several weeks.

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced in mid-June plans to slash funding for Amtrak service in Illinois from $42 million to $26 million.

The governor took the action after he vetoed a budget approved by the Illinois General Assembly that Rauner said was out of balance.

Amtrak has seen these type of budget fights before. Rauner is a Republican in his first term in office while the legislature is controlled by Democrats.

“It’s not unusual for us to begin a fiscal year without a contract or a budget in place, in this state and others,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. “There’s a continuation clause in the current contract so it continues on. We’ll continue to provide service while we await a conclusion.”

Magliari said that the continuation clause says that “the contract continues in force for several months. I don’t expect this will take several months.”

Nonetheless, Magliari said Amtrak is “discussing with (the Illinois Department of Transportation) what the service will look like going forward.”

Should Amtrak service on Illinois state-funded routes need to be reduced, Magliari said there will be several weeks notice of those cuts.

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly confirmed that IDOT is talking with Amtrak about future service.

“IDOT is proceeding as quickly as possible to make decisions about the frequency and level of service that the state can afford. Despite weeks of conversations, Amtrak has not yet provided IDOT with the complete financial information necessary to reduce service,” Kelly said.

Illinois funds two roundtrips daily between Chicago and Carbondale, and between Chicago and Quincy. It also funds four roundtrips between Chicago and St. Louis and helps underwrite service between Chicago and Milwaukee. The latter service is also funded by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

The Illinois-funded trains have been particularly popular with college students.

In Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University, students were lined up on the last day of the most recent school term, huddling under an awning as it began raining.

Most of the students were headed for Chicago, but some would be getting off at a station in central Illinois.

Although Carbondale is served by the Chicago-bound City of New Orleans in the middle of the night, the early morning state-funded Saluki is more popular.

The next train from Carbondale to Chicago is the late afternoon Illini.

“I probably wouldn’t take the train because I can’t get up at 3:30 in the morning because I’m a sleeper,” said Justin Edelheit of Buffalo Grove as he waited to board the Saluki. “Well, I don’t really have a car down here so I have to take the train to get home and that’s the only way I have to see my family. ”

Pareth Patel can understand Justin’s reliance on Amtrak. “I don’t actually have a car here so it’s easier for me to take the train because I take the train from here to Chicago and then I take the [Metra] train from Union Station to Naperville which is closer to my house.”

Joe Tumminaro likes the train ride home to the suburbs. “I actually take the train a lot. I got rid of my car his year to take the train because it’s just easier,” he said.

John O’Shea said he rides the train every couple of months. “I live right by [Chicago] Union Station so this takes me right to there and I live two blocks away from here so it’s just easy; it’s just a hassle driving 6 hours to and from.”

O’Shea said he often rides the City of New Orleans, but on this day he needed another option, so he rode the Saluki.

“That’s usually the one I take, but that’s just because it’s more convenient for me, I’m taking this because I have to be here somewhere tonight.”

Keelia Hamdan connects in Chicago with a train for Detroit. Losing options could lead to headaches getting home, especially after exams.

“It would be much more difficult to get around and as you can see a ton of people come like the end of the semester so it would effect a lot of people,” she said.

Rauner Threatens 40% Amtrak Funding Cut

June 27, 2015

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has indicated that he plans to slash funding for Amtrak service in the state by 40 percent on July 1.

The governor’s plan is to cut the funding from $42 million to $26 million as part of some $820 million in spending cuts that he plans to impose if there is not budget agreement by the time the 2016 fiscal year begins on July 1.

Rauner, a Republican, vetoed an earlier budget sent to him by the Illinois General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats.

The governor said that budget was nearly $4 billion out of balance. The legislature earlier passed a school funding bill that Rauner signed.

Although Amtrak has said it is unclear what effect the wrangling over the budget will have on its state-supported, Richard Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, said in a statement that the cuts would result in fewer trains and higher fares.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said Amtrak is awaiting official word as to how funding Illinois will provide for the service it helps underwrite on routes linking Chicago with Milwaukee, St. Louis, Quincy and Carbondale.

“We’ve not had any formal word from Illinois DOT,” Magliari said. “We’re still accepting bookings for current levels of service.”

Some observers have seen Rauner’s announcement of a new series of cuts to state programs as a strategy to prod Democratic leaders to include some of the governor’s pro-business proposals in a compromise budget deal.

In particular, Democrats have balked at Rauner’s attempts to alter worker compensation laws and have voted down his push for a property tax freeze.

Democrats have proposed extending an income tax hike that is scheduled to expire, but Rauner said he won’t support that without the legislature adopting at least five of his initiatives.

In a spending proposal made in February, Rauner said he wanted to reduce Amtrak funding subsidy by 40 percent, a move that Amtrak said would result in cuts to Illinois Amtrak service. The specter of Amtrak cuts prompted statements of concern from lawmakers and university town officials, who say the reductions would hurt students, business and tourism.

The budget bill approved by the General Assembly would keep Amtrak funding at its current $42 million level.

For now, Amtrak is continuing to operate under its current schedule. “We don’t anticipate any July 1 change,” Magliari said.