Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak photographs’

Station Stop in Greewood

February 17, 2018


Greenwood, Mississippi, is one of that places that has intercity rail passenger service because of Amtrak.

When Amtrak began service on May 1, 1971, it had been several years since a scheduled passenger train had halted in Greenwood.

It would remain 24 years before that would occur again. But thanks to a rerouting of the City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans, Greenwood would join the Amtrak network.

No. 59 is shown at Greenwood during its station stop in March 2012.

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Last Dinner on the Broadway Limited

February 3, 2018

It Saturday night in the dining car on Amtrak’s eastbound Broadway Limited. Despite the train having departed Chicago at 8:55 p.m., the dining car is open and serving.

At first glance, there is nothing out of the ordinary about these scenes. What is playing out has occurred countless times aboard this car, whose heritage predates the creation of Amtrak by two decades.

It was built in 1948 by Budd for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, which named it Silver Cafe.  Amtrak modernized it when it rebuilt the car in June 1980 for head-end power as part of the Heritage Fleet.

Tonight every table and nearly every seat in the Silver Cafe is taken as train No. 40 roars toward New York through Indiana on CSX tracks that once belonged to the Baltimore & Ohio.

But this trip was different because it would be the last run of the Broadway Limited.

The next day, Nos. 40 and 41 will began operating only between Pittsburgh and New York and will be renamed the Three Rivers.

The change was part of a route rationalization plan launched amid a budget cut and the cutbacks could have been more severe than they were.

These images that I made during the last dinner on the Broadway Limited were made on color print film and turned out grainy.

Nonetheless, they remind me of one of my most memorable dinners aboard Amtrak.

The entree, I believe it was trout with a mustard sauce was served with steamed carrots and a rice pilaf, and was quite tasty. The desert was chocolate cake that I recall was embellished by the server, John Long.

Despite it being a last run, the dining car crew was courteous and seemed to go out of their way to make the event something special and worth remembering.

The Conference is Over

January 24, 2018

Having conferred with the engineer of Amtrak’s westbound Empire Builder during a station stop in Milwaukee, the conductor is walking back to his post. No. 7 was running behind schedule due to having to wait in Chicago for connecting passengers from a late Lake Shore Limited. The Milwaukee Amtrak station was built by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad.

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.

Running in a Winter Wonderland

January 22, 2018

When the weather in the upper Midwest turns wintry, Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited often runs late.

Earlier this month Nos. 48 and 49 were running as much as six hours or more behind schedule due to the effects of winter conditions. Delays in turning the equipment in Chicago were given some of the blame, but winter operating conditions can also lead to frozen switches, broken rails and freight train emergencies that are not Amtrak’s fault.

If No. 48 leaves Chicago late, it likely will be even later as it rolls eastward toward New York and Boston.

On a sunny but frigid day last week when the early morning temperatures were in the low teens and the wind chill was sub zero, I braved the elements to photograph No. 48 at Geneva, Ohio, which was more than two hours off its schedule.

It was running a few minutes behind an eastbound CSX stack train. I can only speculate that the dispatcher put the intermodal train out ahead of Amtrak because it would not be stopping in Erie, Pennsylvania, but Amtrak would be.

The St. Charles Air Line

January 19, 2018

Since March 1972, Amtrak trains going to and from the Illinois Central mainline between Chicago and New Orleans have plied the St. Charles Air Line to gain access to Chicago Union Station.

At some point a train arriving or leaving Union Station must do a backup move to get into or out of the station. All of this adds to the running time and for years there has been talk of creating a more direct connection to the IC mainline and the route into Union Station.

But that has yet to come to fruition so six Amtrak trains a day use the St. Charles Air Line.

In the Illinois Central passenger train days, varnish going to and from the Iowa Division used a portion of the St. Charles Air Line.  Of course, freight trains use the Air Line, too.

Some Chicago officials and land developers would like to see the Air Line abandoned because it traverses territory that in the past decade has seen rapid grown of high-end residential housing. The former site of Central Station has been converted to a housing development.

But for the foreseeable future Amtrak and freight trains will continue to use the Air Line at all hours of the day.

I made the image above from the last car on Amtrak Train No. 393, the Illini, to Carbondale, Illinois, back in June 2010.

In a few minutes No. 393 will round the curve at South Wye Junction and gain the Mainline of Mid America. The train will accelerate as it passes beneath McCormick place and heads southward.

Those Lost Little Touches

January 18, 2018

There was a time when Amtrak offered a number of small touches for passengers holding sleeping car tickets.

Notice this display inside my room in a Viewliner sleeper on the Lake Shore Limited out of Chicago in June 2010. The car attendant has left a printed greeting with his name.

Another touch was the artificial flowers and the chocolate mint. You could also expect to get a newspaper delivered to your room in the morning and a route schedule to be there as well. Back in the day, as they say, Amtrak even provided route guides.

Now all of these things are gone, victims of cost cutting and changes in service philosophies.

Waiting for His Passengers

January 16, 2018

An Amtrak sleeping car attendant stands on the platform of the north concourse of Chicago Union Station to welcome passengers for his car aboard the westbound Empire Builder.

These tracks were once used by trains of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul and today Amtrak uses the ex-Milwaukee Road route between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

Although boarding of No. 7 began on time, the train will depart late from Chicago largely due to late inbound trains, most notably the Lake Shore Limited. Also being held on this day for connecting passengers were the departing California Zephyr and Southwest Chief.

Double Shot of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited

January 8, 2018

Amtrak’s westbound Lake Shore Limited is running seven hours late as it rushes through Painesville, Ohio, on Sunday morning.

Amtrak train No. 48 has some heritage on the point as it passes through Northeast Ohio.

After church on Sunday morning I saw on the Amtrak website that Lake Shore Limited No. 49 left Erie at 8:57 a.m. Under normal running time that would put it at the Painesville station at 9:57 a.m.  Also, No. 48 departed Cleveland at 9:33 a.m., which would put it under normal running through Painesville at 10:03 a.m. It had Phase IV heritage unit No. 184 on the lead. Luck was on my side. No. 49 arrived at 9:50 a.m. and No. 48 showed up 11 minutes later at 10:01 a.m.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Ready for You This Morning

January 5, 2018

It is morning in the dining car of the westbound Capitol Limited. The train is somewhere in Indiana as you arrive in the dining car in anticipation of having a hot breakfast.

Although the car is nearly full, there are a few seats available. You sit down and the menu is laid out for you on the table. You look it over and tell the server what you want.

In days of old, you would have written your order on a check. That was the way it was in the early days of Amtrak, but now the dining car is run much like a regular restaurant, albeit one that is moving along at nearly 80 miles per hour.

In due time your breakfast arrives and you dig in. No matter how many times you’ve done this before aboard a dining car, it never seems to get old.