Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak photography’

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.

Advertisements

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.

Heritage In Harpers Ferry

January 4, 2018

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited is coming to a stop in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, on July 16, 2014.

On the point is the Phase IV heritage locomotive wearing a livery that was relatively short-lived on Amtrak in its original incarnation.

The locomotive is not the only heritage to be seen on this train. The baggage car is from the Heritage fleet, having served for decades.

Since this image was made, Amtrak has placed in service its Viewliner baggage cars and most of the heritage baggage cars have been retired.

But the oldest thing in this image is the former Baltimore & Ohio passenger station next to the tracks.  It opened in 1889. Today it is used by the National Park Service and also used by Maryland Area Rail Commuter trains from Washington.

Going in Opposite Directions in New Orleans

January 3, 2018

I’m standing in the rear car of Amtrak’s northbound City of New Orleans. It’s a sleeper and I have a room in this car.

We had left New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal about 20 minutes earlier and have stopped near Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

Our stopping point is just beyond a gate that can be shut during times of flooding. The tracks are now owned by Canadian National but used to be the Illinois Central mainline between Chicago and the Gulf.

I figured we were stopped for a meet with another train so I walked back to the rear door with my camera and waited.

It turned out to be our southbound counterpart, Amtrak train No. 59. I grabbed a few shots and we were on our way.

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.

Swinging Around the Curve

December 28, 2017

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited was late. OK, I hear some of you saying “so what’s new?” They don’t call it the Late Shore Limited for nothing.

But on this day 2007, No. 48 was several hours late when it came through Berea, Ohio, in a snowstorm.

But this snow didn’t fall in December or January or February. It fell on April 7. Snow in April in Northeast Ohio isn’t rare, even if it tends not to last long.

I’m not sure why No. 48 was so late on this day. By the time it reached Cleveland it was late morning. Maybe the weather had something to do with it.

That 90s Look at Lewistown

December 26, 2017

I made this image of  Amtrak’s eastbound Broadway Limited at Lewistown, Pennsylvania, in 1992. In my mind, it was’t that long ago. Yet its been 25 years since this photograph was made on color negative film.

Much can change in a quarter century and there is much to be seen here that is gone.

That starts with the Broadway Limited itself, which would made its last trips between Chicago and New York in September 1995.

On the point on this day is GP40TC No. 192, one of eight such units that Amtrak operated in the 1990s. All were built for Toronto’s GO Transit agency and were purchased by Amtrak in October 1988.

The locomotives could be found in service on routes east of the Mississippi River, but have since been retired.

Behind the GP40TC is an F40PH. Most of those have been retired by Amtrak, but a handful have survived as cab cars while others have gained second lives on other railroads.

The consist includes seven material handling cars, which were common on long distance trains in the 1990s. Amtrak had begun earning additional revenue hauling mail and the MHCs were acquired for that purpose. They’ve since been retired and Amtrak no longer carries mail.

Most of the passenger cars in the consist of No. 40 are Heritage Fleet cars, including the baggage car. Most of those have been retired although in late 2017 a handful of Heritage dining cars continue to work in revenue service.