Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Shawnee’

End of the Line in Carbondale

January 11, 2020

It is a Saturday in June 1979 and just for the fun of it I bought a round-trip ticket to ride Nos. 391 and 392 between Mattoon and Carbondale, Illinois.

Carbondale was the southern terminus for Amtrak’s Shawnee.

I’ve just disembarked from No. 391 in Carbondale. An Illinois Central Gulf locomotive will attach to the rear of the Amtrak train and pull it north to turn on a wye in preparation for its return to Chicago at 4 p.m.

In retrospect I wish I had made this photograph on the other side of the grade crossing.

But then again I can appreciate now the view of the wooden arms that railroads once used on crossing gates and how they were painted black and white. Note that this set of crossing arms is partly painted red and white.

Also note in the photograph a passing northbound ICG freight train and the approaching ICG locomotive that will attach to the rear of No. 391.

Also on this day the Shawnee had a baggage car, which it typically did not except during peak travel periods.

Linking the Seventies With Today

January 29, 2019

There is much that has changed and much that has remained the same in this view of the southbound Shawnee leaving Mattoon, Illinois, during the summer of 1978.

Train No. 391 now operates under the name Saluki on approximately the same schedule that the Shawnee had. That means it is scheduled to depart Mattoon in late morning.

The tracks the Shawnee is using were at the time this image was made owned by Illinois Central Gulf, but today they are in the Canadian National system. Of course the heritage of this line is Illinois Central.

There are still two main tracks here but the tracks at the far left and far right are long gone. The mainline track to the left is now considered a siding.

Those tracks are relics of another era when the IC has branch line passenger service on its line between Peoria and Evansville, Indiana, that operated via Decatur and Mattoon.

Those trains were scheduled to operate between Mattoon and Evansville, and between Mattoon and Peoria. The Evansville passenger service ended in August 1939 while the Peoria passenger service was discontinued in March 1940. Somehow the tracks used by those trains at the Mattoon station survived for several more decades before being removed.

The bridge in the distance carries Charleston Avenue (U.S. Route 45 and Illinois routes 16 and 121) over the tracks. It has since been replaced.

Back in the late 1970s, the standard consist for the Shawnee was two Amfleet coaches and an Amcafe.

Amtrak still uses Amfleet equipment on Midwest corridor trains, but No. 391 today is a mixture of Amfleet and Horizon fleet cars.

Leading No. 391 is an F40PH. Amtrak years ago ceased using F40s to power its trains although a few remain on the roster as cab cars.

The equipment seen here will arrive in Carbondale, Illinois, in early to mid afternoon and be returned to return tonight to Chicago as train No. 392.

For those interested in such things, this photograph was made with Kodak Tri-x black and white negative film and scanned from the negative.

That ’70s Look

December 22, 2017

It is the summer of 1978. Amfleet equipment and F40PH locomotives have been operating on Amtrak’s Midwest corridor trains for nearly two years so the equipment can’t be said to be brand new anymore.

Still it is relatively new enough to be the look of the future having come to pass.

Steam-heated passengers cars are a thing of the past on the corridor routes, but still see service on some long-distance trains in the region.

But on the Chicago-Carbondale-New Orleans route head-end power is the rule. Steam-heated equipment is not coming back.

Shown is the northbound Shawnee, train No. 392, arriving in Mattoon, Illinois, in early evening. The equipment is state of the art for its time with an F40, two Amfleet coaches and an Amcafe. The train will halt at Chicago Union Station in more than three hours.

Turning the Shawnee in Carbondale

October 2, 2016

ic-024-may-7-1979

It is a Monday afternoon in Carbondale, Illinois. I had a day off from work and spent part of it riding Amtrak’s Shawnee from Mattoon, Illinois, where I lived and worked at the time, to Carbondale.

I could board train No. 391 in late morning, arrive in Carbondale in early afternoon and then take No. 392, which was due to depart at 4 p.m., back, home.

The date is May 7, 1979, and the scene is pure 1970s. An Illinois Central Gulf geep has tied onto the rear of the Shawnee and will pull it to North Yard where the consist will be turned on a wye.

If you look hard enough you can see the light towers in the yard as well as the old coaling tower. A portion of the St. Louis Division office building is visible on the right edge in the distance.

The train is sitting in front of the former Illinois Central passenger station. At one time, Carbondale was a busy place where through cars for St. Louis were switched in and out of Chicago-New Orleans trains.

In Amtrak’s early years cars were added and subtracted from Amtrak Nos. 58 and 59 (Chicago-New Orleans), but that didn’t last long.

On the point of the Shawnee is P30CH No. 724, which was less than four years old at the time. Pooches were common fixtures on corridor trains running on ICG tracks.

The consist of the train is three Amfleet cars, one of them an Amcafe, and a baggage car. The latter did not routinely operate on Nos. 391/392 but in the 1970s Amtrak sometimes assigned a baggage car to the Shawnee during periods when the colleges along the line were starting or ending a term.

Today, much of what can be seen here is gone. The Pooches are long since been retired. The tracks are now owned by Canadian National and Amtrak built its own station at a location farther south. There aren’t as many tracks, either.

The Shawnee name is gone but there are now two pairs of Chicago-Carbondale trains, one named the Illini and the other the Saluki. College students still make up a substantial market for this corridor. The old IC passenger station still exists but has been re-purposed.

Although not apparent at the time, this scene captures the transition from the ICRR passenger train era to a modern Amtrak era in which passenger stations and the railroad infrastructure serving them have been much reduced in scope.

Back in 1979, though, you could still imagine what this place looked like when the trains wore orange and chocolate brown and the Carbondale station was a much busier place.

When Amfleet Was New in the Midwest

September 22, 2016

shawnee-1977

Amfleet equipment had been assigned to Midwest corridor trains for just over a year when I made this image of the southbound Shawnee arriving in Effingham, Illinois, on a cold Saturday morning in February.

The Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, train was scheduled into Effingham in late morning and on this day was running close to on time.

Because of its daylight schedule I frequently saw Nos. 391 and 392, and photographed them a few times in the late 1970s.

A trainman is looking for passengers as No. 391 arrives on the Illinois Central Gulf tracks at a union station that once served the Illinois Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In 1977, Effingham saw six Amtrak trains a day. Aside from the Shawnee, the city was served by the Chicago-New Orleans Panama Limited and the New York-Kansas City National Limited.

My recollection is the trainman is not wearing an Amtrak uniform. Some ICG employees assigned to Amtrak service did not wear passenger uniforms. It might have been because they did not regularly work Amtrak trains. There may have been another reason for that.

Amfleet equipment was an upgrade at the time that it was introduced in the Midwest because it provided consistent climate control. Trains were neither too hot or too cold, and the new equipment was more reliable than much of the steam-heated equipment that it replaced.

The Shawnee  operated with one equipment set, making a daily roundtrip from Chicago to Carbondale. Crews changed at Champaign and Centralia just as the ICRR passenger train crews had. It would be several years before the crew district became Chicago-Carbondale.

It would also be several years before the Shawnee would become a state-funded train and renamed the Illini. In the 1970s, the Shawnee was part of Amtrak’s basic network.

Remeber When the F40, Phase II Were New?

March 24, 2014

Shawnee

It’s January 1977 and I am in Champaign,  Ill., to await the arrival of the southbound Shawnee, a Chicago to Carbondale, Ill., train that was part of Amtrak’s original basic system.

The train pulls in, passengers disembark and board, and a new crew takes over. At the time, F40PH No. 206 has been in service less than a year, having been built in March 1976 as part of Amtrak’s original order of F40s.

The F40 did not debut the Phase II livery. That honor went to the P30CH locomotives, the first of which was built in August 1975.

The Amfleet equipment assigned to No. 391 is also fairly new, having been on the train for the past year.

A number of things have changed about this scene and yet some of them remain the same. The Amfleet equipment is still in service, although much of it is assigned to Northeast Corridor service.

Amtrak no longer operates the F40PH as locomotives, but it has converted several of them to non-powered cab units. No. 206 is not among them.

Crews no longer change at Champaign. Today they work between Chicago and Carbondale.

The former Illinois Central passenger station seen to the left of the photo still stands, but is no longer used by Amtrak, which moved to an intermodal facility south of the IC depot.

The platforms shown are still in use. The tracks visible to the far right of the image have all been removed. Now owned by Canadian National, the former IC mainline here is now a single track railroad.

As for No. 391, it now operates under the name Saluki on the same schedule of the former Shawnee, a name that Amtrak has retired. The Saluki is funded in part by the State of Illinois.