Posts Tagged ‘boarding at Chicago Union Station’

Remember the Old CUS Metropolitan Lounge?

June 28, 2018

It is May 2014 and passengers are lined up waiting to board the California Zephyr, which will be leaving soon for the San Francisco Bay area.

These passengers are holding sleeping car accommodations and were waiting in the former Metropolitan Lounge at Chicago Union Station.

A new lounge has replaced this facility, but the old lounge should be a familiar sight to those who rode Amtrak sleeping cars to and from Chicago during the past couple of decades.

When it was time to board your train, you went through a door toward the back of the lounge and an Amtrak agent escorted you to the track where your train was waiting.

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.

Historic Day for the City of New Orleans

January 14, 2017


For several decades, Illinois Central passenger trains were part of the daily ritual of life in the Mississippi towns of Batesville, Grenada, Winona, Durant and Canton.

That continued unabated when Amtrak took over in 1971, although the number of passenger trains was fewer in number.

The IC decided during the 1990s to shift most of its freight to another route in Mississippi between Memphis and Jackson.  That route had less steep grades.

Amtrak was told it could move its City of New Orleans to that route or pay to maintain the other route to passenger train speeds. That route wasn’t being abandoned, but it would not be maintained for 79 mph speeds.

So Amtrak moved and two other Mississippi cities, Greenville and Yazoo City were added to the Amtrak map.

It is a Saturday evening at Chicago Union Station, Sept. 9, 1995. For the final time, the City of New Orleans will depart for its namesake city and stop at Batesville, Grenada, Winona, Durant and Canton.

The occasion passed without fanfare or ceremony, but I made it a point to record the last station sign to note service to the cities soon to drop off the Amtrak map after 24 years.

Amtrak Institutes New Chicago Boarding Procedure

November 18, 2016

Amtrak institute new boarding procedures for coach passengers at Chicago Union Station last month.

Amtrak logoPassengers boarding trains that require reservations are now required to check in on the day of travel and obtain a boarding pass.

Once passengers have checked in and received a boarding pass, they will be directed to the appropriate boarding area to wait for their train.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said “the earlier you check in, the earlier you’ll be in the boarding process. If you don’t check in, you’ll be among the last to board.”

The check-in procedure will not apply to Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains because they are unreserved.

Boarding will begin about a half-hour before departure and passengers will board with their assigned group much in the same way that Southwest Airlines handles boarding of its planes.

According to the service advisory, general boarding for passengers traveling in coach class will take place in the Great Hall where there will be signs directing passengers to the location of their assigned group.

Passengers may purchase a $20 priority boarding pass for the Legacy Club, making them the first coach class group to board. Uniformed military personnel can enjoy the Legacy Club free of charge.

Seniors age 62 and over, customers with disabilities, families with children 12 and under, and non-uniformed active duty military personnel can board with assistance from the south boarding lounge, ahead of general boarding.

Passengers in sleeping car or business Class, or are a Select Plus or a Select Executive Amtrak Guest Rewards member will not need a boarding pass. They will board from the Metropolitan Lounge and continue to receive advance boarding.

Amtrak advised that passengers should be at Chicago Union Station no later than 45 minutes before departure and 60 minutes if assistance is needed with ticketing, baggage, pets, bikes or other services. Boarding gates will close five minutes before train departure time.