Posts Tagged ‘Carbondale Illinois’

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.

Just 2 BUILD Grants Will Benefit Amtrak

November 17, 2019

Only two of the rail projects that recently received federal BUILD grants that were awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation will directly benefit Amtrak service.

Both involve Amtrak stations in Illinois.

A $14 million grant was awarded for building an underpass at the station in Normal, Illinois, that also serves nearby Bloomington.

The federal funds will pay for design and construction of a pedestrian, bicyclist, and passenger underpass and a second boarding platform at the station.

Normal is served by Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains as well as the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

The other grant was $14 million for design and construction of a new multi-modal transportation center in downtown Carbondale.

That station will replace a modular facility Amtrak opened in the 1980s.

Carbondale is the southern terminus of Amtrak’s Illini and Saluki as well as an intermediate stop for the City of New Orleans, which operates between Chicago and New Orleans.

USDOT handed out $900 million in BUILD grants for 55 transportation-related infrastructure projects in 35 states,

Half of the funding went to projects in rural areas of the country and the lion’s share ($603 million) went to highway projects.

Rail projects received $48.3 million or 5 percent of the total. Transit projects received $84.6 million or 10 percent of the total.

Florida received the largest amount of grant funding followed by North Carolina, Maine, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana.

California received two grants while Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut received no grant funding.

BUILD Grant to be Used for New Carbondale Station

November 8, 2019

Federal grant funds will be used to create a new transportation center in Carbondale, Illinois, that will be used by Amtrak.

The $14 million grant will be used to pay for the design and construction of the new facility, as well as demolition of the existing Amtrak station.

The new facility, once opened, will also serve intercity bus routes.

The funding is being awarded from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development program.

Carbondale is the southern origination and termination point for the state-funded Illini and Saluki, which operate on Canadian National tracks to and from Chicago.

The city, which is home to Southern Illinois University, is also a station stop and crew change point for the Chicago-New Orleans City of New Orleans

The current Carbondale station opened on Oct. 8, 1981, and was built as part of a grade crossing reduction project.

Construction Set at Carbondale Station

August 29, 2019

In a service advisory, Amtrak said work will be done on the plaza and ramp access to the station.

During that time, one ADA-compliant path will remain open to and from the depot.

Passengers and visitors are being urged to look for signs and to use caution when going to and from the station and train platform.

Carbondale is served by Amtrak’s Illini, Saluki and City of New Orleans.

CONO Breakdown Strands 145 in Carbondale

April 4, 2019

Passengers aboard Amtrak’s southbound City of New Orleans were forced to finish their trip by bus on Monday after mechanical issues halted the train for several hours in Carbondale, Illinois.

Attempts to fix the problem were unsuccessful and the 145 passengers were later put aboard buses.

As it was those going south of Jackson, Mississippi, were already slated to ride the bus because service between Jackson and New Orleans has been suspended in recent weeks due to flooding.

Amtrak provided some food for the stranded passengers who sat aboard their train in the cold.

News reports indicated that the mechanical issues occurred after the train made its regular station stop in Carbondale, which is also an Amtrak crew change point.

Durbin Wants FRA to Pressure Railroads to Run Amtrak Trains On Time

May 11, 2018

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has joined Carbondale, Illinois, officials in seeking to pressure the Federal Railroad Administration into leaning on Amtrak’s host railroads to operate Chicago-Carbondale trains on time.

During the past year trains on the route were on time on just 32 percent of their trips.

“That’s simply unacceptable and deserves the FRA’s immediate attention and action,” Durbin wrote in his letter to the FRA.

“Amtrak’s Chicago-Champaign-Carbondale route continues to be one of the worst preforming routes in the country,” he said. “The Illini and Saluki trains are consistently delayed by CN’s freight interference and the ongoing speed restrictions put in place by CN in 2015.”

The speed restriction that Durbin referenced was put into place along a 200-mile stretch of the 309-mile corridor as a safety precaution following repeated mechanical issues.

However, Amtrak and CN have been in a stalemate over finding a solution to solve that issue and lift the speed restriction.

Durbin wants the FRA to take a more active role to ensure that Amtrak trains operate on time in Illinois and around the country.

“My constituents have waited long enough while the Amtrak service they rely on has suffered,” Durbin said. “It’s time for the FRA to take on a larger oversight role in the ongoing dispute between Amtrak and CN, and I urge you to begin convening regular meetings between the leadership at FRA, CN, and Amtrak that include my staff so the FRA can set deadlines, prevent further delays, and ensure greater accountability.”

Durbin also contended that freight train interference has played a major role in causing delays to Amtrak trains.

“Canadian National in particular has a long history of holding up Amtrak trains and holding back investments that could improve passenger and freight service in downstate Illinois,” Durbin said.

Durbin’s letter came shortly after Carbondale city officials met with him and Amtrak managers to discuss the paltry on-time performance of Chicago-Carbondale trains, most of which are funded by the State of Illinois.

The route also hosts Amtrak’s Chicago-New Orleans City of New Orleans.

Taking Amtrak to the Eclipse

August 24, 2017

About 400 people boarded an Amtrak train in Chicago at 3 a.m. this week to go see the solar eclipse in Carbondale, Illinois.

The Amtrak special followed the former Illinois Central Railroad route used by Amtrak trains between the two cities.

The first visible coast-to-coast eclipse in the United States since 1918, had the longest lasting totality over Carbondale.

The special sold out in 22 hours once ticket sales were announced. It also stopped in Champaign-Urbana where 55 passengers boarded.

News accounts quoted passengers as saying the trip was convenient.

“When Amtrak announced it, we thought it was a great idea; and going down and coming back in a day is great,” Tim Costello said. “It’s going to be a great experience to see a total eclipse; everything being quiet, and things getting dark, and things like that is just once in a lifetime.”

Christine Chavez said she was happy to going to Carbondale because clouds were threatening to obscure the eclipse in Chicago.

“We’re actually doing it, because my daughter is really into space; and she’s been wanting to go ahead and see the eclipse, because she heard about it in school,” she said. “It’s definitely a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for my family. So we’re very excited, and excited that my daughter gets to experience this as well.”

The train had P42DC No. 64 pulling the train southbound while No. 36 pulled the return trip. The passenger car consist was Nos. 48187, 54562, 82543, 54000, 82536, 54555, 54575.

Amtrak Discounting Fares for Solar Esclipse

June 30, 2017

Amtrak is offering a 30 percent discount on certain tickets for trains serving Carbondale, Illinois, which will experience a total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

The discounts will apply for travel aboard the Illini and Saluki between Aug. 16 and 22. Both trains are funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The eclipse will have its longest duration near Carbondale, lasting 2 minutes, 38 seconds.

It will be the first total coast-to-coast solar eclipse in North America in nearly a century, moving at a speed of greater than 930 mph from Oregon to South Carolina.

The prime viewing near Carbondale will be no later than noon CDT.

Amtrak is a sponsor of the Carbondale Eclipse event, so the Amtrak logo is on viewing glasses distributed at the Eclipse Marketplace. Space for bicycles on the trains is limited, as are supplies of the souvenir glasses.

In a news release, Amtrak said that fares from Chicago to Carbondale are still available for as low as $24 each way, plus $10 each way for a bicycle.

Amtrak also serves Carbondale with its City of New Orleans, which operates between Chicago and New Orleans.

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.

CONO Patrons Being Bused Carbondale-Memphis

December 31, 2015

Since Tuesday passengers aboard the City of New Orleans have been riding the bus between Memphis and Carbondale, Illinois, due to heavy rains and flooding.

The bus substitution is expected to continue through early next week.

The Chicago-New Orleans train will continue operate as normal between Chicago and Carbondale.

Charter buses are meeting No. 59 at Carbondale and taking passengers to Memphis where they then reboard their train to New Orleans.

Northbound passengers on No. 58 are riding the train from New Orleans to Memphis, taking a bus to Carbondale and then reboarding the train.

The Chicago-Carbondale Saluki and Illini are not affected and continue to operate as normal.