Posts Tagged ‘Chicago-Carbondale corridor’

New Venture Cars Tested in Illinois

April 15, 2021

Amtrak made test runs this week of three Siemens Venture coaches pulled by Charger locomotives between Edgewood and Kinmundy, Illinois, on Canadian National tracks.

The test trains evaluated the ability of the new equipment to shunt electric current between rails on CN’s former Illinois Central mainline.

Scheduled Amtrak operations on the CN line between Chicago and New Orleans are required by the host railroad to have a minimum of 30 axles.

Studies conducted by CN, Amtrak, and the Federal Railroad Administration have yet to conclude what track, wheel, or rolling stock issues might cause an interruption of a shunt, which is necessary to activiate signals and highway warning devices.

The test train had three Viewliner II baggage cars, but those were reported to be excluded from the tests, which were to use various locomotive and passenger car combinations.

On Time at Pesotum

March 5, 2021

Amtrak’s daily Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, combination is still running these days with Superliner equipment. The northbound train, which operates as the Saluki, is on time as it barrels through Pesotum, Illinois, en route to its next station at Champaign-Urbana.

This equipment will turn later in the day to return to Carbondale as the Illini.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last year about this time, the Illinois Department of Transportation paid for a pair of Chicago-Carbondale roundtrips. For now it is only sponsoring one roundtrip.

This image was made on Feb. 27.

CN Track Work to Disrupt Illinois Service

January 13, 2021

Track work being conducted by host railroad Canadian National will result in the cancellation of Amtrak’s northbound Saluki and southbound Illini between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois, on Jan. 15.

In a service advisory Amtrak said no alternative transportation is being provided to any of the stations on the affected day.

Instead, it recommended that passengers choose an alternative date for travel.

The advisory said passengers traveling to or from Champaign or Carbondale would be able to use Amtrak Thruway buses or vans as an alternative.

Those services link Carbondale with St. Louis and Champaign with Normal, Illinois, where passengers would be able to transfer to another Amtrak train.

However, the advisory said travel times via those options will be longer than the normal Amtrak service.

Although service suspensions in the Chicago-Carbondale corridor due to CN track work have occurred before, Amtrak usually provided bus transportation to accommodate displayed passengers.

Charging Past Some Late Fall Color

November 24, 2020

There was still some good fall foliage to be had in Pesotum, Illinois, in early November when I caught Amtrak’s northbound Saluki.

On the point is a Siemens Charger leading a consist of Superliner cars that likely have been bumped from long-distance train service when most of those trains shifted to tri-weekly operation this past October.

SB Illini to Run 30 Minutes Later Due to CN Track Work

October 30, 2020

Canadian National track work will result in temporary schedule changes for Amtrak’s Chicago to Carbondale, Illini, between Nov. 2 and 20.

Train 393 during that period will depart Chicago at 4:35 p.m., 30 minutes later than normally scheduled, on Monday through Friday.

Train arrival times will be 30 minutes later than scheduled at all stations to Carbondale.

The normal schedule will be in effect on Saturdays and Sundays.

Ground Breaking Ceremony Held for Rebuilding of the Amtrak, Metra Homewood Station

September 30, 2020

A conductor picks up a step box after passengers have finished disembarking from the northbound Illini at Homewood, Illinois in September 1996

A groundbreaking ceremony was held this week to mark the launch of a $29 million project to renovate the Homewood, Illinois, Amtrak and Metra station.

The work, which began in July, will improve the accessibility of the facility located alongside Canadian National tracks and served by Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, Illini and Saluki.

Workers will replace the station stairway and install a ramp to allow passengers access to a tunnel under the tracks, which leads to the boarding platforms.

Other work planned for next year includes leveling the path between the station building, parking area and entrance to the tunnel.

Metra plans to replace its existing station structure on the east side of the tracks, renovate the existing tunnel and create accessible paths from both ends of the tunnel.

The tunnel, which is 109 years old, will be waterproofed, receive improved lighting, drainage and ventilation systems, and be coated in a graffiti resistant finish.

Amtrak is spending $15 million on the $29 million project, Metra is chipping in $14 million, the village of Homewood will contribute $585,000 and Cook County will provide $300,000.

The Homewood station was built by the Illinois Central Railroad in 1923.

Amtrak plans to build a ramp building to house the elevator and walkways. The work also includes renovating the waiting area and restrooms of the existing station.

“We’ll put down new tile and move some walls to make the restrooms accessible, but you should be able to distinguish what is new and what was original to this space without taking away any of the history or character of the building — it’s really a beautiful station,” Amtrak Project Manager Jamie Shindell said.

For now Amtrak passengers are unable to board or disembark from trains in Homewood due to the construction.

Instead, they are riding buses to and from the next Amtrak station to the south, Kankakee.

Amtrak expects trains to resume boarding and disembarking in Homewood from a temporary platform in late March 2021. The project is expected to be completed by October 2021.

Charging Through Arcola, Illinois

July 29, 2020

The massive grain elevator complex in Arcola, Illinois, has been a favorite backdrop that I’ve used over the years when photographing Amtrak trains on the Chicago-Carbondale-New Orleans corridor.

The way the schedule works out, the complex best works as a backdrop for the northbound Saluki.

The southbound City of New Orleans would have to be really, really late to catch in daylight and the window for getting its northbound counterpart is very small.

The Illini in both directions passes through Arcola in daylight but by then the sun is behind the grain complex.

So that leaves the Saluki, which I’ve photographed here a few times.

My motivation for getting No. 390 this year has been to recreate an image I did years ago but with different motive power.

The P42DC units that were mainstays on the Chicago-Carbondale trains have given was to Siemens SC-44 Chargers.

Last Sunday No. 390 was about 10 to 15 minutes off its published schedule as it blasted through Arcola.

There is a restored Illinois Central depot here, but Arcola has never been a scheduled Amtrak stop.

This is the second time I’ve photographed No. 390 in Arcola this summer. Back in mid June the Saluki carried a Heritage baggage car.

That has since been replaced by a Viewliner baggage car. In both cases, the baggage car was in the consist to enable the train to meet a minimum axle count required by host railroad Canadian National.

Amtrak to Temporarily Cease Stopping in Homewood

July 23, 2020

As a Canadian National train works at nearby Markham Yard, Amtrak’s southbound Saluki calls at the Homewood station on Aug. 8, 2008.

Amtrak will suspend train service to Homewood, Illinois, starting July 27 due to a station construction project that will extend through next spring.

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans and Chicago-Carbondale corridor trains will no longer stop in Homewood but alternative bus service will be provided between Homewood and Kankakee, Illinois.

During the construction project, which is expected to last through March 31, 2021, passenger traveling to Homewood from points south will disembark in Kankakee and ride a bus to Homewood.

Passengers would have boarded in Homewood for points south will board a bus in Kankakee and travel to Kankakee where they will board their train.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that during the construction the boarding platform will be closed and a temporary waiting room and restrooms will be established near the station building.

Portions of the station parking lot will be closed for construction stating.

No alternative transportation is being provided between Chicago Union Station and Homewood.

However, Metra Electric trains will continue to operate between Homewood and the Millenium station in downtown Chicago.

The Amtrak charter buses operating between Homewood and Kankakee will have numbers corresponding to their connection trains: 4058, 4059, 4390 and 4393.

Although Amtrak does not provide local service between Homewood and Chicago, it does allow passengers to board in Homewood if they are connecting to other Amtrak trains at Union Station.

Such passengers may either board Amtrak in Kankakee or in Joliet, Illinois, to begin their journey to Chicago Union Station and a connection with another Amtrak train.

Track Work to Disrupt Illini, Saluki

May 15, 2020

Track work being performed by host railroad Canadian National has resulted in temporary scheduled changes for Amtrak trains operating between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois.

The changes will be in effect on May 15, 19 and 22.

The southbound Illini will operate 30 minutes earlier on May 15 and 22.

The northbound Saluki and southbound Illini will be canceled on May 19 and substitute bus service provided.

Bus 3390 will operate from Carbondale to Chicago, departing Carbondale 1 hour and 45 minutes earlier than the schedule of the train and make all intermediate stops.

Bus 5390 will operate from Carbondale to Chicago, departing Carbondale 30 minutes earlier than the schedule of the train and stopping only at the Champaign-Urbana station.

Bus 3393 will operate from Chicago to Carbondale, departing at 4:05 p.m., making all intermediate stops.

Its arrival in Carbondale will be 1 hour and 55 minutes later than the normal schedule at 11:30 p.m.

Bus 5393 will operate from Chicago to Carbondale, departing Chicago at 4:05 p.m. and stopping only at Champaign.

Its arrival in Carbondale will be 10 minutes later than normal at 9:45 p.m.

Illini to Run Earlier on Fridays

April 28, 2020

Canadian National track work is resulting in Amtrak’s southbound Illini operating 30 minutes earlier on Fridays through May 22.

Train 393, which operates from Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, will continue to run on its normal schedule on all other days of the week.