Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Saluki’

NB Saluki to Operate 2 Hours Earlier

June 19, 2017

Amtrak’s northbound Saluki will operate two hours earlier Monday through Friday between July 19 and August 4 in order to accommodate track work being undertaken by Canadian National.

No. 390 is scheduled to depart Carbondale, Illinois, at 7:30 a.m., but will now depart at 5:30 a.m., putting it just over two hours behind the City of New Orleans, which is scheduled to depart Carbondale at 3:16 a.m.

The early schedule will not apply to No. 390 on  Saturdays or Sundays.

 

NB CONO Operating 4 Hours Later untill April 1

March 9, 2017

The northbound City of New Orleans is being rescheduled to operate four hours later between March 6 and April 1 due to Canadian National track work.

No. 58 will during that time frame depart from New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal at 5:45 p.m., and operate four hours later at all stations from New Orleans to Carbondale, Illinois.

North of Cardonable, No. 58 will operate on the schedule of No. 390, the northbound Saluki, and make all station stops served by No. 390.

That means that No. 58 will be stopping in Illinois at DuQuoin, Rantoul and Gillman, stations that it normally does not serve.

In order to provide three daily trains from Carbondale to Chicago, Amtrak will operate an extra train, No. 1158.

Passengers who hold tickets for travel on No. 58 between March 6 and April 1 will instead travel on No. 1158.

That train will operate on the schedule of No. 58 and serve all of its stations. It will use the equipment normally assigned to No. 390.

The northbound schedule for Train 392 (Illini) and the southbound schedules for Trains 59 (City of New Orleans), 391 (Saluki) and 393 (Illini) are unchanged for this period.

Now Arriving From Carbondale, The Saluki

December 23, 2016

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saluki-arriving-2-x

The view is from the observation deck of Willis Tower in Chicago looking south on May 20, 2013. There is a clear view of the St. Charles Air Line which Amtrak trains use to get to and from the former Illinois Central mainline between Chicago and New Orleans.

The train that is visible in the top image crossing the Chicago River is the inbound Saluki from Carbondale, Illinois. It will cross over the Amtrak and Metra coach yards en route to reaching the BNSF Raceway at Union Avenue.

No. 390 will then back into Chicago Union Station. This move has been standard operating procedure for Amtrak trains arriving from New Orleans, Carbondale and Champaign since 1972.

On occasion, Amtrak has diverged from the St. Charles Air Line to the former IC Iowa Division at 16th Street Tower, crossed the route used by eastern Amtrak trains at 21st Street, and done a backup move on the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio route into Union Station.

I’ve also been on an Amtrak train that pulled out straight out and backed around the wye onto the Raceway to access the St. Charles Air Line.

Whichever route that an Amtrak train bound for or coming off the former IC takes, it will need to do a backup move at some point. Click on the photographs to enlarge them.

Another Edition of Train Time on Amtrak

October 10, 2016

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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.

Ticket Agent Removals Continued During 2016

September 6, 2016

In case you missed it, Amtrak continued to remove agents from its stations during the summer of 2016.

Here is a summary of those stations that lost their agents and the routes service.

Amtrak 4Glenview, Illinois: Amtrak reached an agreement with Chicago regional commuter rail agency Metra to staff this station, which is served by Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service (Chicago-Milwaukee) and the Empire Builder (Chicago-Seattle/Portland).

The Amtrak announcement said that Metra agents will not be selling Amtrak tickets.

The waiting room will be open between 5:15 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Amtrak said those requiring ticketing or other assistance from Amtrak station personnel should use Chicago Union Station, 18 miles south of Glenview.

Homewood, Illinois: Although also a joint station with Metra, the ticket office has been closed.

The station waiting room will remain open and an Amtrak Quik-Track ticketing kiosk is located here. The waiting room also has vending machines and restrooms.

The waiting room will remain open until after the departure of the last train of the day, scheduled to be the southbound City of New Orleans.

The nearest Amtrak staffed station is Chicago Union Station, 24 miles north of Homewood.

Homewood is served by the Illini and Saluki (Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois) and the City of New Orleans (Chicago-New Orleans).

Port Huron, Michigan: Served by the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water, the station waiting area will remain open from 11 p.m. until the departure of No. 356 the next morning to Chicago.

The waiting area has restrooms and vending machines, including a Quik-Trak ticketing kiosk.

Amtrak notes that parking at this station is limited.

Prince (Beckley), West Virginia: Served by the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal, the waiting room is open for all trains departures and arrivals.

As is standard at most stations with caretakers, the station opens 30 minutes before train time and remain open for 30 minutes after a train departs.

Removal of the Amtrak agent also meant that checked baggage and Amtrak Express service ended at Prince.

Wolf Point, Montana: Served by the Empire Builder, the waiting room will open at 11 a.m. and close at 5:30 pm or after the last train departs.

Removal of the ticket agent also ended checked baggage service here.

Rugby, North Dakota: Served by the Empire Builder, the station waiting room will continue to be open for all train arrivals and departures, although Amtrak did not specific the hours.

Checked baggage service has also ended here. The nearest staffed station is in Minot, North Dakota, located 39 miles west of Rugby.

Champaign-Urbana Saw Amtrak Ridership Decline in FY 2015 for the 2nd Consecutive Year

January 18, 2016
The southbound Illini makes its station stop in Rantoul in August 2012.

The southbound Illini makes its station stop in Rantoul in August 2012.

University towns tend to generate a lot of business for Amtrak and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, is no exception.

One some days the waiting room of the Illinois Terminal, the intermodal station that serves the hometowns of the University of Illinois, overflows with passengers.

Yet in fiscal year 2015, which ended last Sept. 30, ridership from Champaign-Urbana fell for the second consecutive year.

In FY 2013, Amtrak boarded 189,940 passengers in the Twin Cities but saw that number fall to 169,221 in FY 2015. FY 2014 ridership was 179,009.

At the next stop north of Champaign, ridership has shown a slight increase in Rantoul. The ridership numbers for Rantoul have been 5, 889 (FY 2013), 6,166 (FY 2014) and 6,199 (FY 2015)

Patronage fell in many areas of the country during FY 2015 and Amtrak has been blaming falling gasoline prices as a major culprit.

“We believe, as we’ve said before, as gasoline prices go up, so does ridership, and the inverse is true,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

He noted that parking, tolls and traffic tickets in and around Chicago have not changed.

Despite the ridership falloff, Magliari said, “we still have very strong ridership.”

IllinoisIn fact, Amtrak ridership remains at historic levels, with last year being the fifth-highest ridership year on record since 1979, said T.J. Blakeman, Champaign’s senior planner for economic development.

Local officials are concerned that Amtrak service may suffer cuts as a result of a budget stalemate between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly. The two have yet to agree on a budget for the current fiscal year.

Champaign-Urbana is served by three pairs of Amtrak trains, the City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans, and the state-funded Illini and Saluki between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois.

The addition of the Saluki in 2006 provided a boost to Amtrak patronage from Champaign-Urbana, Blakeman said.

“It shows if we can continue to add service on this line, I believe we will continue to see increased ridership,” he said.

Between 2007 and 2014, Amtrak ridership in the Chicago-Carbondale corridor grew 41.6 percent.

Aside from budget uncertainty, another concern of Champaign County officials is delays.

Amtrak uses Canadian National tracks between Chicago and New Orleans and the two have sparred over freight delays.

Magliari said Amtrak has an action pending against Canadian National before regulatory authorities.

Ben LeRoy, an associate planner for the city of Champaign, thinks that bus carriers might also be siphoning away some Amtrak ridership due to the problems of delays.

LeRoy, said he takes Amtrak to conferences, but while a student at the University of Illinois he rode Greyhound because the fare was lower and the buses ran more frequently

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said she has left the night before a meeting in Chicago because of the possibility of delays making her late to the meeting.

“That drives away passengers if you can’t be on time. I think that’s the biggest problem, and it’s not Amtrak’s fault,” she said.

Nearly 1,000 people have signed Champaign County First’s online petition at chn.ge/1PtVaBP to support intercity rail passenger rail service on the Chicago-Carbondale corridor.

The petition has described the service as an economic engine for the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University, which together constitute the I-57 Amtrak Rail Knowledge Corridor.

“Just imagine what would happen to the highways if all those people were driving,” Prushing said.

Blakeman said increased Amtrak ridership has played a role in reducing traffic congestion and parking shortages on the University of Illinois campus.

“We’ve reduced parking on campus. We’ve convinced students to bring fewer cars to campus,” he said.

Amtrak’s Illinois Pet Program Made Permanent

April 22, 2015

A trial program allowing passengers to carry pets aboard Amtrak trains in Illinois is being made permanent.

The program allowed small pets aboard the Chicago-Quincy Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg, and the Chicago-Carbondale Illini and Saluki.

Some 200 animals have ridden with their masters without a single complaint or incident.

“I am proud that Illinois is the first state in the country to work with Amtrak to offer this convenient service for pet owners, while also taking into account the considerations of other passengers,” said acting IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “By allowing pets on trains, Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation are making it that much easier for people to experience so many of our great communities throughout the state.”

Ticketing and travel with pets originates throughout the day in Chicago, Carbondale, Champaign, and Galesburg, while the service is only available during afternoon departures in Homewood and Naperville due to staffing.

Reservations are required and a surcharge of $25 is assessed for travel. Dogs or cats up to 20-pounds each are accepted in carriers that can be placed under the seat of each pet owner.

Amtrak Warns of Cuts if Illinois Reduces Funding

March 29, 2015

Amtrak has warned that the State of Illinois may need to repay more than $1 billion in federal grant money if the state cuts funding of service in the Chicago-Louis corridor.

Ray Lang, senior director of national state relations for Amtrak, said at an Illinois House committee hearing that the cuts being proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner would have a significant impact on other passenger rail routes in Illinois.

Rauner has proposed slashing the state’s share of Amtrak funding by 40 percent from $42 million per year to $26 million.

Lang said if service cannot be reduced on the Chicago-St. Louis route because of the federal payback issue, service would have to be cut on other routes.

Citing the Chicago-Carbondale corridor, he said the Illini and Saluki might be eliminated, leaving only the City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans via Champaign and Carbondale.

“You’re talking about elimination of service on routes. Worst-case scenario is that you’d just have the City of New Orleans (train,)” Lang said.

However, Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Guy Tridgell had a different perspective.

“The state’s financial support for Amtrak’s annual operations is independent of any construction work that’s ongoing or has already taken place,” Tridgell said.

Tridgell said that he was speaking in a general sense and not specifically about the Chicago-St. Louis route.

He also contended that no route decisions have been made. “Everything is still under review,” Tridgell said.

Rauner’s push to cut funding for Amtrak service is in contrast with the policies of former Gov. Pat Quinn, who had pushed for expanded Amtrak service, including new routes to Rockford and the Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa.

Those proposed new Amtrak routes took a hit when Rauner froze grants that were earmarked to pay for track construction.

State Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, expressed outrage that Rauner froze spending on the projects. “That is crazy,” Verschoore told the committee.

Rauner also wants to reduce mass transit spending by $180 million, a level that has Democratic lawmakers who control the General Assembly upset.

“I do not think I can support that deep of a cut to any of these transit agencies,” said state Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, who chairs the appropriation committee. “I tell you, something’s got to give.”l

3 Illinois Corridor Trains Using Superliners

February 17, 2015

Passengers riding the Illini, Saluki and Carl Sandburg trains in Illinois can expect to be accommodated in Superliner equipment through the end of February.

Amtrak said the usual equipment assigned to business class service on those trains has temporarily removed.

Passengers who purchase business class tickets will receive most if the amenities normally offered on the single-level Horizon and Amfleet cars, including priority boarding, use of the Metropolitan Lounge at Chicago Union Station, complimentary beverages and a newspaper.

Half of the upper level of the of the Superliner food service car will be curtained off for Business Class passengers.

Amtrak said in service advisory that the primary difference in business class on Superliner equipment is two-by-two seating, rather than a row of single seats on one side of the aisle.

The Saluki and Illini operated between Chicago and Carbondale, Ill., while the Carl Sandburg operates between Chicago and Quincy, Ill.

In the meantime, Amtrak has discontinued business class service on the quad-weekly Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State. Also disconnected was AmtrakConnect® Wi-Fi. Light refreshments are not longer available on Nos. 850 and 851.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said those services, which were made available on the Hoosier State last October have been removed because  the Indiana Department of Transportation has chosen not to fund their continuation.

Illini, Saluki to Have Shorter Trips on Dec. 15

December 15, 2014

Amtrak’s Saluki and Illini will operate today (Dec. 15) between Chicago and Champaign, Ill., due to track work being performed by host railroad Canadian National.

Passengers bound for or originating at points south of Champaign will complete their journey by bus.

Amtrak said that the southbound buses will operate on slightly later schedules than the trains due to the longer travel times between stations while the northbound buses will operate on earlier schedules.

Consequently, No. 390, the northbound Saluki will operate 30 minutes later than the normal train schedule, departing Champaign at 10:44 a.m.

The Saluki and Illini normally operate between Chicago and Carbondale, Ill., and are funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation.