Posts Tagged ‘Chicago-Quincy corridor’

More Midwest Service Being Suspended

November 19, 2022

The Chicago-bound Illinois Zephyr (left) meets the Quincy-bound Carl Sandburg in Mendota, Illinois, on Aug. 6, 2008.

More service suspensions are coming to Amtrak’s Midwest corridor network.

The passenger carrier said this week that it will suspend through mid-January Illinois Zephyr No. 380 from Quincy, Illinois, to Chicago, and Carl Sandburg No. 381, a Chicago to Quincy train.

Both trains operate during morning hours. The suspension will last through Jan. 16, 2023.

It is the latest in a series of service suspensions that have occurred this year on nearly every Midwest corridor route.

Amtrak has cited equipment shortages for most of those service suspensions, but the suspensions of the Chicago-Quincy trains was attributed to a shortage of operating personnel.

To pick up the slack on the route, Amtrak said substitute bus service will be provided as an alternative to the suspended trains.

Passengers who held reservations for travel on the suspended trains will be offered full refunds or re-booked without penalty on other trains or at a later travel date.

An Amtrak official said the carrier lacks qualified crew members at its Quincy crew base.

The official said the morning trains were cancelled because they would need to be staffed with personnel from the Chicago crew base.

Unaffected by the service suspensions are No. 382, the Carl Sandburg operating from Quincy to Chicago, and No. 383, the Illinois Zephyr from Chicago to Quincy.

Both of those trains operate during afternoon and evening hours.

This year’s Midwest corridor service suspensions have all occurred on routes with multiple train frequencies, including Chicago-St. Louis; Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois; St. Louis-Kansas City; and Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac).

In most cases, the suspensions lasted for several to a few weeks. However, a pair of Chicago-Carbondale trains, the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini, were suspended last January and no date has been announced for when those trains will be reinstated.

Some Chicago-Quincy service was suspended in late summer for a short time, but those suspensions were attributed by Amtrak to equipment shortages.

Equipment Shortage Sidelines Carl Sandburg

August 7, 2022

Amtrak cited equipment shortages for suspended its Carl Sandberg trains last week between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois. The suspension was to last through Aug. 7.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Trains magazine Nos. 381 and 382 lacked enough usable equipment.

“We have exceeded the margin of spare equipment, so we had to suspend that round trip,” Magliari said. “We expect the release of enough usable equipment to be able to restore that service next week.”

The Trains report said federal maintenance rules require passenger cars to be taken out of service periodically.

Aggravating the situation in the Midwest has been the slower than expected assignment of new Venture coaches due to a defect with their doors.

Another factor has been that some Horizon equipment once used in Midwest service was sent to the Pacific Northwest after Talgo trains there were removed from service.

The Trains report said host railroad Canadian National has demanded that Amtrak assign Superliner equipment to its Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, trains.

Since January the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini have been suspended.

In other Amtrak equipment woes last week, some trips of the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder were canceled.

However, a factor in those cancellations was the route being blocked by a BNSF freight train derailment in western Montana.

Cancelled were the westbound departure from Chicago on Aug. 3 and the eastbound departures from Seattle and Portland on Aug. 5.

The Empire Builder operates with five Superliner equipment sets consisting of three coaches, two sleeping cars, a transition sleeper, dining car, Sightseer lounge, and baggage car split between the Portland and Seattle sections.

Trains reported that is one coach and at least one sleeping car less than what the Builder normally carries.

Some of that equipment has been sidelined for weeks because Amtrak lacks enough mechanical workers to perform safety overhauls before the cars can return to revenue service.

Carl Sandburg to be Disrupted by Track Work

April 5, 2022

BNSF track work in Illinois will disrupt operations of Amtrak’s Carl Sandburg on Wednesday (April 6).

Train 381 will terminate in Galesburg with passengers being provided bus transportation to all stations between Galesburg and Quincy.

Train 382 will originate in Galesburg with bus transportation provided from all stations between Quincy and Galesburg.

The track work will not affect operations of the Illinois Zephyr on this date between Chicago and Quincy.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said Bus 3381 will operate on the schedule of Train 381 between Macomb and Quincy, holding at Galesburg for passengers off Train 381. Delays of 10-15 minutes can be expected.

Eastbound Bus 3382 will depart Quincy at 4:30 p.m. and operate 60 minutes earlier than the normal train schedule.

BNSF Track Work to Affect Carl Sandburg

February 12, 2022

Track work being conducted by host railroad BNSF will result in schedule changes to the Chicago-Quincy, Illinois, Carl Sandburg on Feb. 23.

Train 381 will terminate at Galesburg with alternate transportation being provided between Galesburg and Quincy. Train 382 will originate at Galesburg with alternate transportation provided between Quincy and Galesburg.

The Illinois Zephyr will operate that day as normal between Chicago and Quincy.

Thruway bus 3381 will operate on the schedule of Train 381 between Macomb and Quincy, holding at Galesburg for passengers off Train 381. Delays of 10 to 15 minutes can be expected.

Bus 3382 will depart Quincy at 4:30 p.m. and operate 60 minutes earlier than the normal train schedule.

Hannibal Eyes Bringing Amtrak to Town

January 22, 2022

Hannibal, Missouri, has never had scheduled Amtrak service. In fact, by the time Amtrak arrived in 1971 Hannibal had lost intercity rail passenger service on the two major rail lines that pass through the city, a former Wabash route from Springfield, Illinois, to Kansas City; and a former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy route between St. Louis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

The last passenger train, Burlington Nos. 15 and 8 made their final trips on April 8, 1967.

Yet some Hannibal officials are eyeing bringing Amtrak to the city of 17,000 located on the Mississippi River 117 miles north of St. Louis. Hannibal is best known as the boyhood home of author Mark Twain.

Tourism is a significant business in Hannibal and local officials seek bringing in Amtrak as a way to bolster that. The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is leading the way, seeking to get Amtrak to extend service to Hannibal that now terminates in Quincy, Illinois.

Business owner Michael O’Cheltree said rail passenger service could bring in tourists when the river cruises are not operating.

There is, of course, a long way to go before Amtrak could arrive in Hannibal.

Extending Amtrak service from Quincy to Hannibal is feasible because the ex-Burlington line through Hannibal, now operated by BNSF, connects with the route used by Amtrak at West Quincy, Missouri.

“One of the first things we’re looking at, obviously, is funding for planning,” said Hannibal Economic Development Executive Coordinator Corey Mehaffy. “We’ve got two studies we really need to do. And a feasibility study on demand or passenger rail. So obviously the potential revenue that could come along with that.”

The Chicago-Quincy service is funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation and there is little to no prospect that agency would agree to fund Amtrak service to Hannibal.

Funding would thus need to come from the Missouri Department of Transportation, which currently funds Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Hannibal officials have created a transportation committee to work with city and state officials as well as Amtrak and local businesses.

Mehaffy said the project is still at an early stage and no one knows yet how much it would cost to fund needed studies or to construct a station.

That hasn’t stopped some from dreaming. O’Cheltree said the station could be placed Y Men’s Pavilion next to existing tracks and within walking distance of downtown.

He sees nothing but upside to the idea of bringing in Amtrak.

 “They’d come from Chicago, Macomb, Rockford, all these possible places, spend the night in our motels, come here, do some shopping and go home the next day,” he said.

Beau Hicks, the executive director of the visitor’s bureau has even bigger dreams. She said in time the service could be extended south to St. Louis.

Illinois Zephyr Launched 50 Years Ago Today

November 4, 2021

The eastbound Illinois Zephyr (left) meets the westbound Carl Sandburg at Mendota, Illinois, on Aug. 6, 2008

As Amtrak prepared to begin operations on May 1, 1971, dozens of communities across the country faced the loss of intercity rail passenger service because the trains serving them had not been chosen to operate under the Amtrak banner.

Among them were the Western Illinois cities of Quincy and Macomb, both of which were served by trains of Burlington Northern. Both cities were stops for the Chicago-North Kansas City American Royal Zephyr and unnamed Nos. 5/6 between Chicago and West Quincy, Missouri. Nos. 5/6 has once been known as the Kansas City Zephyr but was now known informally as the “Quincy Local.”

BN forerunner Chicago, Burlington & Quincy had sought to end the Kansas City Zephyr in late 1967 but 800 people, including 700 college students and their parents had opposed the move, leading the Interstate Commerce Commission to order the train to continue operating between Chicago and West Quincy. Students attending Western Illinois University in Macomb were heavy uses of Burlington passenger trains and the Burlington operated 24 specials a year to accommodate them.

Macomb had no airline service and no direct intercity bus service or interstate highway to Chicago, where many students were from. Quincy College also had a contingent of students from Chicago who took the train to campus.

With the “Quincy Local” set to make its final trips on April 30, 1971, officials of WIU, Quincy College, and the cities of Quincy and Macomb went to court on April 28, 1971, where Federal District Court Judge Joseph Sam Perry issued an injunction ordering BN to continue to operate the “Quincy Local.” The court vacated the injunction on May 10 and the “Quincy Local” was prompted discontinued.

But Quincy College and its allies weren’t through with their fight to preserve intercity rail passenger service to their communities. They filed suit In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, arguing that the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, which created the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, as Amtrak is formally known, was an unconstitutional attempt to regulate commerce that is solely intrastate.

A three-judge panel on June 21 disagreed and also rebuffed the argument of the plaintiffs that discontinuance of the “Quincy Local” violated section 403(b) of the 1970 Act, which authorized Amtrak to operate service beyond its initial basic route network if management thought it would be prudent to do so. The court’s decision was appealed and on Feb. 22, 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision of the District Court.

But even as Quincy College and its fellow plaintiffs were in court, legislation had been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly to appropriate $4 million to pay for service to Quincy and Macomb under section 403(b), which enabled state and local governments to request Amtrak service if they agreed to pay two-thirds of the operating deficit.

The bill was approved and the Illinois Zephyr began operating between Chicago and West Quincy, Missouri, on Nov. 4, 1971, with intermediate stops at LaGrange Road in the Chicago suburbs, Aurora, Mendota, Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg and Macomb.

Service began at Plano on April 30, 1972, while Naperville replaced Aurora as a station stop on April 28, 1985. Service to Quincy proper began April 24, 1983. After flooding damaged the West Quincy station in July 1993, Quincy became the western terminus for the Illinois Zephyr on May 1, 1994.

Service on the Chicago-Quincy route expanded to two daily roundtrips on Oct. 30, 2006, with the inauguration of the Carl Sandburg. The Illinois Zephyr continued its traditional schedule of leaving Quincy in early morning and arriving in Chicago by 10:30 a.m. while departing Chicago in early evening for a 10 p.m. arrival in Quincy.

The Carl Sandburg, which was named for a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and biographer who had been born in Galesburg, was scheduled to depart Chicago at 8 a.m. and arrive in Quincy shortly after noon. The return trip to Chicago left Quincy in late afternoon and arrived in Chicago before 10 p.m.

As it marks its 50th anniversary, the Illinois Zephyr holds the distinction of being Amtrak’s continuously operated state-sponsored train. The Chicago-Quincy route is one of four Midwest corridor routes radiating from Chicago funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The other routes are Chicago-St. Louis; Chicago-Carbondale; and Chicago-Milwaukee, the latter funded in part by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Amtrak Service Cuts Just Keep Coming

March 19, 2020

Amtrak service to Michigan will be reduced to two pairs of trains and service cuts will be imposed on three corridor routes in Illinois.

However, no service reductions are being planned for the long-distance network Amtrak spokesman Marc Magilari told Trains magazine.

Michigan trains that will continue to operate are the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water while Wolverine Service will consist of No 352, which departs Chicago at 1:25 p.m. and arrives in Pontiac at 8:32 p.m. and No. 351, which departs Pontiac at 5:50 a.m. and arrives in Chicago at 10:32 a.m.

Canceled are the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette and two Wolverine Service roundtrips.

On the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini will continue to operate while their counterparts are canceled.

The corridor is also served by the City of New Orleans which provides service northbound in the early morning hours and southbound in late evening.

Between Chicago and Quincy the Carl Sandburg will be canceled while the Illinois Zephyr will continue to operate.

Part of the Chicago-Quincy corridor will continue to be served by the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief.

The Chicago-Milwaukee corridor will be reduced to one Hiawatha Service roundtrip with the Empire Builder picking up some of the slack.

The one Chicago to Milwaukee Hiawatha will depart at 5:08 p.m. for a 6:45 p.m. arrival in Milwaukee.

There will also be a late night bus from Chicago to Milwaukee that leaves Chicago at 9:15 p.m.

The Milwaukee to Chicago Hiawatha will depart at 8:05 a.m. and arriving in Chicago at 9:34 a.m.

The Empire Builder will handle local passengers at all stops, including at Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee airport station, both of which Nos. 7 and 8 normally do not serve.

However, the Empire Builder is an afternoon operation in both directions between Chicago and Milwaukee so passengers will not be able to travel northbound in the morning or southbound in the evening.

On the Chicago-St. Louis corridor the southbound 7 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. departures from Chicago will be cut.

Lincoln Service trains will continue to depart Chicago at 9:25 a.m. and 7 p.m.

From St. Louis, Lincoln Service trains will depart at 4:35 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The Texas Eagle will also continue operating in the corridor. Canceled are northbound Lincoln Service departures from St. Louis at 6:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

For now Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City will continue operating on its current level of service of two roundtrips per day.

On the West Coast, the Capitol Corridor route will see a reduction from 15 to five weekday departures in each direction between Sacramento and Emeryville, California, effective March 23.

This does not include the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight, which uses part of the corridor.

Service reductions on the San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner corridors have not yet been announced.

Cascades Service is no longer operating north of Seattle and will see the last round trip of the day canceled.

A presentation by the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University in Chicago said Amtrak’s current bookings are down 60 percent, future reservations are off 80 percent, and passenger cancellations are up 400 percent compared with the same period last year.

In a related development the Trump administration has proposed that Amtrak receive $500 million in emergency aid.

The carrier had said it needs $1 billion to cover losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding is part of a supplemental appropriation proposal the administration has sent to Congress totaling $45.8 billion.

Amtrak Continues to Pare Service

March 19, 2020

It remains to be seen if Amtrak will suspend or reduce the operations of its long-distance trains, but an online report quoting a union official indicated that onboard service cuts are coming.

The official from the SMART Transportation Division said he has been told to expect sleeping car service to be suspended and dining removed from some trains.

However, the official said he has not been advised by the carrier if it plans to suspend any long-distance trains.

Amtrak has suspended several Midwest corridor trains including three roundtrips in the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor and one roundtrip between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

The Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette has also been suspended.

Service reductions for corridors in Illinois are expected but as of early Thursday morning had yet to be formally announced by Amtrak.

Amtrak operates three corridors in Illinois linking Chicago with Carbondale, Quincy and St. Louis.

The Chicago-Carbondale corridor has two roundtrips plus the Chicago-New Orleans City of Orleans.

The Chicago-Quincy corridor has two roundtrips while the Chicago-St. Louis corridor has four roundtrips plus the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

An online report indicated that effective March 21 Chicago-Carbondale service will be reduced to the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini.

A similar service pattern is expected to be implemented for the Chicago-Quincy corridor with service to Chicago in the morning and returning service in the evening by trains 381 and 381 respectively.

In both corridors, the remaining trains could be covered with one equipment set.

The Empire Builder is also expected to begin carrying local passengers to and from Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Airport station. Neither are regular stops for Nos. 7 and 8.

The New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian also has been suspended along with all Keystone Service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Service reductions have been made in all other eastern corridors as well.

In a service advisory Amtrak said some stations that have ticket agents may not be staffed for all train arrivals and departure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amtrak said passengers should proceed to the platform for boarding if they encounter an unstaffed station that normally has agents directing the boarding process.

Other online reports indicated that Cascade Service between Portland and Eugene, Oregon, will be reduced to one roundtrip with trains 500 and 505 providing the service.

Macomb Creates Amtrak Tracking Website

November 23, 2019

Macomb, Illinois, has created a special website to track the progress of the Amtrak trains serving the city. It’s similar to the Amtrak status monitors at Chicago Union Station.

“We are proud to be an Amtrak community,” said Mayor Mike Inman. “[The city] will gladly continue to work with Amtrak on these initiatives to improve the service to Amtrak customers.”

The progress tracker is located on the city’s website.

“Amtrak was good to work with on this project and we are glad we could be the first community served by Amtrak to introduce this,” said Macomb City Administrator Scott Coker.

Macomb is served by the Chicago-Quincy Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg.

BNSF Derailment Disrupts Illinois Zephyr

November 20, 2019

A BNSF derailment on Tuesday prevented the eastbound Illinois Zephyr from leaving Quincy, Illinois.

The derailment in West Quincy, Missouri, blocked the route the train takes when ferrying from the BNSF yard where the equipment spends the night to the Quincy Amtrak station.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said passengers who had been ticketed to ride Train No. 380 were instead put aboard chartered buses.

He said the buses could not make the same time as the train and passengers would experience delays.

The derailment occurred about 5:30 a.m. and involved 12 cars leaving the tracks, five of them turning over onto their sides.

No hazardous material was involved in the derailment.

The Illinois Zephyr returned to normal operations Tuesday evening.