Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Joliet’

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.

RTG Turboliner Memories

April 14, 2017

A photograph that my friend Bob Farkas sent me this week of an Amtrak RTG Turboliner at Joliet, Illinois, brought back a lot of fond memories.

I rode the Turboliner when I lived in Springfield, Illinois, in the mid-1970s, but many of my memories involve watching the French-built train.

Sometimes on a late Friday afternoon I would go to the Amtrak station to see the Turboliner from St. Louis arrive en route to Chicago.

During my first semester at the then-named Sangamon State University, I had a class that met in the early evening.

It got out shortly before the evening Turboliner was to leave Springfield for St. Louis. Parking for the downtown SSU campus was in a lot next to the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio tracks, which were Illinois Central Gulf by then.

If it a searchlight signal next to the tracks was green, the Amtrak train was in the station out of sight a few blocks to the north. I’d sit in my car until the train came past and then go home.

My first ride on a Turboliner came in February 1975 when I made a trip to St. Louis to visit my grandparents.

I liked the Turboliner. It was modern, had nice large windows and lived up to its billing in a an Amtrak radio advertisement of the time with a tagline of “hitch a ride on the future.:

But not everyone did felt the way that I did. Many passengers disliked the narrow seats that barely reclined, the narrow aisles and the sometimes hard to open doors. Another drawback was limited seating in the café car.

The Turboliner had a fixed capacity of 296, so some passengers were left standing during peak travel periods.

Those who regularly rode Amtrak in the Chicago-Springfield-St. Louis corridor preferred conventional equipment over the Turboliner.

Some locomotive engineers wouldn’t work on the Turboliner because they didn’t feel they would be protected enough during a grade crossing collision with a large truck.

When they began service on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor on Oct. 1, 1973, Amtrak touted the Turboliner as the greatest advancement in transportation since the 747.

Although much was made of the capability of the Turboliner to run more than 100 mph, the fastest it could sprint between Chicago and St. Louis was 79 p.m.

But the Turboliner schedule was a half-hour faster than trains using conventional equipment and 11 minutes faster than GM&O trains of the late 1940s.

An Amtrak official conceded to Trains magazine editor David P. Morgan that the purpose the flashy-looking Turboliners was to show that Amtrak was doing something to improve passenger service other than making cosmetic improvements to hand-me-down equipment.

Morgan said the Turboliner reminded him of the low center of gravity lightweight trains that railroads tried in the 1950s but which failed to catch on.

The last Turboliner in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor ran on Trains 301/304. It was withdrawn from the route after it struck an asphalt truck at Elwood, Illinois, on Nov. 18, 1975.

About a month later, Nos. 301/304 because the first Midwest corridor trains to receive the new Amfleet equipment.

My last trip aboard a Turboliner came in November 1980 when I rode the Lake Cities from  Chicago to Toledo via Detroit.

The next time I remember seeing a Turboliner was in the mid-1990s at the Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis. One of the Turboliner sets was sitting forlornly off to the side.

I’ve seen photographs of a Turboliner sitting in a junk yard near Dugger, Indiana. One of these days I’ve got to get out there to see if it is still there.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Keeping a Watch on the Platform in Joliet

January 25, 2017

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Amtrak operating crew members have always had radios to communicate with each other. A conductor can tell the engineer by radio that boarding is complete and it is time to leave.

But engine crew members still like to do things the old fashioned way and look in the side mirror to see how the boarding process is going.

It is June 25, 1977, in Joliet, Illinois. The St. Louis-bound Statehouse has arrived and is boarding passengers.

At the time, it was the only train on the Chicago-St. Louis route funded by the State of Illinois.

The engineer is at the throttle of a P30PH locomotive. Known as “Pooches,” the P30s were a common sight on Midwest corridor trains in the 1970s, particularly on Illinois Central Gulf routes.

It was an era when the Statehouse and other corridor trains might be pull into the station behind a P30 or an F40PH. You just never knew.

Faded Slide, Faded Amtrak Glory

January 6, 2017

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Maybe it is just as well that this slide of Amtrak’s Ann Rutledge at Joliet, Illinois, is faded. The Chicago to Kansas City train is just a faded memory in the minds of those who remember it.

Originally, a Chicago-St. Louis train of the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, Amtrak reprised the name in the 1970s.

After the State of Missouri funded a restoration of Amtrak service between St. Louis and Kansas City, Amtrak extended the Ann Rutledge to K.C. on Oct. 29, 1979.

Originally, Amtrak Nos. 301 and 304 were turboliner trains, departing Chicago in the morning and St. Louis in the late afternoon.

In December 1976, they became the first Midwest corridor trains to receive Amfleet equipment. They were named the Ann Rutledge on Feb. 15, 1976.

The Ann Rutledge name vanished from the Amtrak timetable on Oct. 31, 1976, when the Inter-American was extended to Chicago.

But the Ann Rutledge name returned a year later when Amtrak dropped the Abraham Lincoln name for the evening train from Chicago to St. Louis.

With the April 2, 2007, timetable change, Amtrak renamed all of its Chicago-St. Louis trains Lincoln Service. But Ann Rutledge remained as a name for a St. Louis-Kansas City roundtrip until Oct. 27, 2008.

This image of the outbound Ann Rutledge was made on Oct. 3, 1981.

Southwest Chief Superliners Leaving Joliet

September 7, 2016

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It is a Saturday afternoon in Joliet, Illinois. The date: Sept. 9, 1995. I’m spending time at Joliet Union Station catching whatever trains that I can, including a few Amtrak trains.

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is still using the Santa Fe route between Chicago and Galesburg, Illinois.

The train from Los Angeles is departing Joliet and will be in Chicago Union Station in about an hour having just begun the final leg of its 2,200-mile journey.

It is passing beneath a venerable signal bridge that held semaphore signals when I first saw it years earlier.

The Superliner equipment assigned to the Southwest Chief on this day is wearing the Phase III livery that was in vogue back then.

Has it been that long since this scheme was the state of the art look for Amtrak rolling stock? Yes it has been my friend, yes it has.

Amtrak Moves to Makeshift Station in Joliet

September 30, 2014

Joliet Union Station still stands, but it is no longer used as a train station by Amtrak of Metra. Passengers now use new platforms and a temporary station located east of the tracks.

The station, which includes an Amtrak ticket office, is located on the northwest corner of East Jefferson Street and Mayor Art Schulz Drive (formerly North Michigan Street).

The temporary facility, which is expected to be used until a permanent station, the Joliet Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center, is completed in late 2016.

The temporary Amtrak facility is about situated two blocks northeast of the 102-year-old Joliet Union Station, directly across from Silver Cross Field.

Metra agreed to move in order to avoid disruption of freight service on BNSF and Union Pacific freight lines caused by cross traffic on Metra’s Rock Island District.

The closure of Union Station was effective at 10 a.m. last Friday. The last Metra trains to use the Union Station platform were Chicago-bound No. 508, which departed at 9:21 a.m., and Joliet-bound No. 505, which was scheduled to arrived at 9:53 a.m.

The first trains to use the new platform, located east of the crossing on the north side of the tracks, were the outbound No. 510 at 10:21 a.m. and inbound No. 507 at 10:53 a.m. Also affected are Metra’s Heritage Corridor trains and Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle.

Friday morning’s St. Louis to Chicago Lincoln Service train No. 300 used the Union Station platform while Chicago to St. Louis No. 303 used the new platform. Once construction is complete, Amtrak will move to the new When opened in October 1912, Joliet Union Station served the Santa Fe, Rock Island, Chicago & Alton, and Michigan Central.