Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Union Station’

Last Outbound Amtrak Train of the Day

October 9, 2019

Boarding of the outbound Lake Shore Limited has begun on Track 26 at Chicago Union Station.

The sleeper class passengers are the first to board and I was near the head of the line in that group.

Actually, I wasn’t riding in a sleeper. But if you buy a day pass to the lounge at Union Station you get to board your train along with the sleeper passengers.

Train No. 48 will be the last Amtrak train to depart from the South concourse of Union Station today.

But other trains will be arriving over the next couple of hours including a Wolverine Service train, the Illini, a Lincoln Service train, the Carl Sanburg and an extraordinarily late California Zephyr.

These platforms won’t be empty for long.

Chicago Union Station Parking Structure to Close

September 20, 2019

The Chicago Union Station self park structure will close on Sept. 30 Amtrak said in a service advisory.

The facility is located at 210 S. Canal St. Amtrak said overnight parking at the station is limited and passengers are being encouraged to use public transit, taxis, ride share services or having family or friends drop them off at the station.

Underground and above-ground public parking facilities that are available within two blocks of the station include:

  • 565 Quincy St. (550 W. Jackson Building) — valet service, weekdays only: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • 225 S. Desplaines St. (625 W. Adams Building) — self park, Monday to Saturday, closed Sunday.
  • 113 S. Clinton St. (525 W. Monroe Building) — self park, 24-hours.
  • 500 W. Monroe St. — self park, 24-hours.

 

Amtrak Seeks Food Hall for Chicago Union Station

August 7, 2019

Amtrak has issued a request for proposals to develop a food hall at Chicago Union Station.

It would be located between the Great Hall and on the Clinton Street side of the terminal, which has been closed to the public ever since a 1980 fire.

The proposed food hall is expected to draw customers from among nearby office workers and residents in addition to rail passengers.

“With all the development that is going on around Union Station, we think a food hall is just a natural for this space,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

What Amtrak has in mind is not a collection of fast food outlets, but rather something featuring a little style and higher prices.

Although the requests for proposals has a deadline of Oct. 4, Magliari said that could be extended.

The passenger carrier is eyeing a late 2020 opening date for the food hall.

Magliari said Amtrak will use $10 million, part of the proceeds from its sale of a parking garage immediately south of Union Station, to fund the food hall work.

The site of the food hall would be what there once was a Fred Harvey Lunch Room.

In the meantime, workers continue to renovate the west wall area of Union Station, which hasn’t had an entrance since the 1980s fire.

Following the fire, the wall’s soaring windows and the space covered with bricks.

The renovation will involve replacing the 8-by-17-foot windows and three 9-by-30-foot windows that once overlooked the Great Hall.

Hanging With the Hoosier State in Its Final Week

August 4, 2019

Boarding has begun for the Chicago-bound Hoosier State on June 25 at Indianapolis Union Station.

By the time I arrived in Indianapolis Amtrak’s Hoosier State had just one week left to live.

I would experience No. 851 three times before it made its final trip on June 30, riding it once and photographing it trackside twice.

I have ridden the Hoosier State several times but not since August 1991.

Interestingly, my purpose for riding the Hoosier State nearly 28 years later would be the same as why I rode it in 1991.

I was moving and needed to go back to my former hometown to pick up a car and drive it to my new hometown.

In 1991 I had driven from Indianapolis to State College, Pennsylvania. In 2019 I drove from Cleveland to Indianapolis.

Boarding of No. 851 began shortly after I arrived at Indianapolis Union Station on the morning of June 25.

I was the second passenger to board the Horizon fleet coach to which most Indy passengers were assigned. The car was about two-thirds full.

The consist also included an Amfleet coach, an Amfleet food service car and two P42DC locomotives, Nos. 77 and 55.

We departed on time but a few minutes later received a penalty application near CP Holt that required a conversation with the CSX PTC desk.

We would later encounter a delay between Crawfordsville and Lafayette due to signal issues.

Yet there was no freight train interference en route that I observed. We stopped briefly in Chicago so a Metra train could go around us.

That was probably because we were early. We halted at Chicago Union Station 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

I had heard the former Monon can be rough riding, but I didn’t think it was any worse than other Amtrak routes I’ve ridden.

There wasn’t any of the abrupt sideways jerking that I’ve experienced on other Amtrak trains.

The journey did seem to be slow going at times, particularly through the CSX yard in Lafayette; on the former Grand Trunk Western west of Munster, Indiana; through the Union Pacific yard on the former Chicago & Eastern Illinois; and within Chicago.

Overall, the experience was much the same as riding any other Amtrak Midwest corridor train although it featured an entrance into Chicago that I had not experienced before in daylight.

The crew said nothing about it being the last week of operation for Nos. 850 and 851.

My next encounter with the Hoosier State came in Lafayette on June 28.

No. 851 arrived on time with a more typical consist that included cars being ferried from Beach Grove shops to Chicago.

These included a Superliner sleeping car, a Viewliner baggage car, a Horizon food service car, and a Heritage baggage car in addition to the standard Hoosier State consist of three cars. On the point was P42DC No. 99.

I was positioned next to the former Big Four station at Riehle Plaza so I could photograph above the train.

Although a sunny morning, the tracks were more in shadows than I would have liked. Nonetheless I was pleased, overall, with what I came away with.

After No 851 departed – it operates on CSX as P317, an original Hoosier State number – I went over to Fifth Street to photograph it sans railroad tracks.

One stretch of rails has been left in the street in front of the former Monon passenger station.

My last encounter with the Hoosier State would be my briefest.

I drove to Linden to photograph the last northbound run at the railroad museum at the former joint Monon-Nickel Plate depot.

No. 851 was 24 minutes late leaving Indianapolis Union Station and about that late at Crawfordsville.

It had a consist similar to what I had seen in Lafayette two days earlier. P42DC No. 160 had a battered nose with some of its silver paint peeling away.

I wasn’t aware until I saw them that two former Pennsylvania Railroad cars had been chartered to operate on the rear of the last Hoosier State.

They were Colonial Crafts and Frank Thomson. The latter carried a Pennsy keystone tail sign on its observation end emblazoned with the Hoosier State name.

It was a nice touch and after those cars charged past the Hoosier State was gone in more ways than one.

 

That’s my Horizon coach reflected in the lower level of the Lafayette station.

 

Watching the countryside slide by west of Monon, Indiana.

The Hoosier State has come to a halt on Track 16 at Chicago Union Station. That’s the inbound City of New Orleans to the left.

A crowd lines the platform in Lafayette as the Hoosier State arrives en route to Chicago.

The former Big Four station in Lafayette was moved to its current location to serve Amtrak. At one time it also served intercity buses.

Pulling out of Lafayette on the penultimate northbound trip to Chicago.

P42DC No. 160, which pulled the last northbound Amtrak Train No. 851 had a well-worn nose.

Two former Pennsylvania Railroad passenger cars brought up the rear of the last northbound Hoosier State.

STB Asked to Allow Metra to Continue Use of CUS

July 26, 2019

Amtrak has asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to allow Chicago commuter rail agency Metra to continue using Chicago Union Station as the two sides continue to haggle over lease payments.

Declaring that more than a year of negotiations has yet to yield an agreement to extend Metra’s lease, which expires on July 29, Amtrak has asked the STB to issue an interim order enabling Metra to continue using the station.

Metra and Amtrak officials have said that no disruption of service or other operational changes will occur despite the lack of a lease extension.

Instead, Metra will continue to use the station under a 1984 agreement that has been amended several times.

Amtrak said the two sides have a “significant, material gap between our respective views of ‘fair share’” costs at the station, and there are “methodological and philosophical differences between us on how that fair share should be calculated.”

Metra said in a statement that it “is seeking the best deal for its customers and for the taxpayers of northeastern Illinois. We agree that requesting the involvement of the Surface Transportation Board at this juncture is appropriate and we look forward to making our case there.”

Union Station serves 41 percent of Metra’s passengers traveling to or from downtown Chicago.

It has 286 weekly trains using six routes from Union Station that average 109,520 passengers.

In fiscal year 2018, Metra paid Amtrak $9.66 million to use Union Station. Amtrak reportedly is seeking to raise the rent by several million dollars.

It has justified its demands for higher rent by saying Metra’s use of the depot has increased significantly over the years. Amtrak is also seeking to recoup some of the costs of capital investments it has made at Union Station.

Amtrak contends that Metra has benefited from an outdated and inadequate 1984 contract that has failed to account for significant increases in its rail traffic and passenger counts at CUS.

The national passenger carrier is also reported to be seeking a firm commitment by Metra to contribute to upgrading the station facilities.

However, Metra is seeking to reduce its rent to less than $7 million a year. Earlier this year, Metra even suggested that it take control of Union Station because it accounts for 90 percent of the trains using the facility. Amtrak rejected that idea.

A consulting firm hired by Metra suggested the commuter rail agency pay costs for dispatching and maintenance that are similar to those Amtrak is seeking.

“But there is still a gap between Amtrak’s proposals in these areas and Metra’s counter-proposal, and more significant gaps in other cost categories, including operating expenses, policing, liability and overall capital investment,” Amtrak has said.

That Late 1970s Look

July 12, 2019

Amtrak was in the midst of rebuilding its Chicago infrastructure when I made this image in September 1978.

My recollection is that I was part of a group making a tour of Amtrak facilities at the time, but I don’t remember much about. it.

Amtrak was well into its transition from steam heated equipment to head end power and its general of P30CH and F40PH locomotives were rapidly overtaking EMD E and F units inherited from the freight railroads and the ill-fated SDP40F locomotives that Amtrak itself ordered.

Not also that this motive power set of a P30 and two F40s is wearing the then new Phase III livery.

These units had helped to introduce Phase II, but it didn’t last long.

Not Much Longer to Run

July 9, 2019

Amtrak’s northbound Hoosier State sits on Track 16 at Chicago Union Station on June 25 after having completed a trip that originated at Indianapolis Union Station.

Train 851 arrived at CUS 20 minutes early on this day.

It was the last week of operation of Nos. 850 and 851 after the Indiana legislature declined to continue its funding of the quad-weekly service.

In the background is the equipment that arrived earlier on the City of New Orleans.

Proposal New Chicago Transit Hub Includes Amtrak

June 6, 2019

Chicago may be getting a second Amtrak station if a Wisconsin developer is able to follow through on an ambitious proposal.

Landmark Development wants to create a transit center across Lake Shore Drive near Soldier Field on the southside of downtown Chicago. The location is close to the site of Central Station, which the Illinois Central razed in the middle 1970s after Amtrak ceased using it in March 1972.

The center would serve Metra, CTA and Amtrak. The developer also plans to build a $20 billion residential and commercial complex on a platform that would span the tracks running alongside Lake Shore Drive.

Those tracks are used by Metra Electric trains and Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, Illini and Saluki.

A recent state capital funding plan approved by the Illinois General Assembly would make $5 billion in state funding available to help finance the transit center.

The proposal calls for extending the CTA Orange Line and Metra’s BNSF route to the site.

It is not clear if that would mean that Metra BNSF route trains would no longer use Chicago Union Station.

The transit center would have parking for 6,500 vehicles and feature a bus line connecting it to Navy Pier, museums and other tourist attractions along the Lake Michigan shore in and near downtown Chicago.

The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce paid for a study that concluded that the transit center, to be known as One Central, generate $120 billion in new tax and fee revenues to state and local governments over 40 years.

Student funding is necessarily for the project to qualify for federal transportation funding.

All of Amtrak’s trains serving Chicago originate and terminate at Union Station. Some of those Amtrak routes have suburban stops, but no Amtrak train stops for passengers within Chicago other that at Union Station.

One Morning at Chicago Union Station

May 3, 2019

It is mid morning at Chicago Union Station. I’ve just stepped off the inbound Capitol Limited after boarding several hours earlier in Cleveland.

On an adjacent track is the inbound Broadway Limited. Nos. 40 and 41 are living on borrowed time and will be discontinued in just over a month.

It’s difficult to make good images of trains at CUS due to low lighting conditions not to mention the limited sight lines.

The sleepers on the rear of No. 41 caught my attention. Maybe there is just enough light to make a serviceable image on the slide film I was using.

The images turned out dark and a little blurry. But they remind me of something I can’t see anymore, which is Heritage Fleet sleepers on a train that has been gone more than a decade.

I also liked the mood of the subdued lighting, which seems well suited to portray a passenger car designed for nighttime travel.

No. 2432 in the top photograph was built by the Budd Company in 1950 as Union Pacific 1449, Pacific Waves.

Amtrak retained the name and rebuilt the car to HEP capability in June 1980. Its original Amtrak roster number was 2642.

No. 2051 in bottom image has had a more varied history. It was built by Budd in 1949 as New York Central 10360.

The Central rebuilt the all-roomette care in 1961 to a sleeper coach with a configuration of 16 single rooms and 10 double rooms.

Amtrak reapplied the name Fairport Harbor, which had been dropped by either NYC or Penn Central. At one time it carried Amtrak roster number 2001.

No. 2432 was sold in 2001 and according to the book Amtrak by the Numbers by David C. Warner and Elbert Simon No. 2051 at last report was for sale in 2011. It may have been sold or donated to a museum by now.

Falling Concrete Delays Metra at CUS

May 2, 2019

Falling concrete affected Metra operations on Wednesday morning at Chicago Union Station.

Three tracks were closed after chunks of concrete fell on tracks at the south end of the station.

Officials said no one was injured and the falling debris did not land on any platform areas.

Some Metra trains were delayed while workers cleaned up the scene.

A Metra spokesman said Tracks 2, 4 and 6 were closed Wednesday morning for repairs.

The track closures affected Metra’s BNSF, Southwest Service and Heritage Corridor routes.

An Amtrak spokesperson said four Metra trains were delayed while its workers inspected the station, which Amtrak owns.