Posts Tagged ‘Illinois Amtrak routes’

NB CONO Operating 4 Hours Later untill April 1

March 9, 2017

The northbound City of New Orleans is being rescheduled to operate four hours later between March 6 and April 1 due to Canadian National track work.

No. 58 will during that time frame depart from New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal at 5:45 p.m., and operate four hours later at all stations from New Orleans to Carbondale, Illinois.

North of Cardonable, No. 58 will operate on the schedule of No. 390, the northbound Saluki, and make all station stops served by No. 390.

That means that No. 58 will be stopping in Illinois at DuQuoin, Rantoul and Gillman, stations that it normally does not serve.

In order to provide three daily trains from Carbondale to Chicago, Amtrak will operate an extra train, No. 1158.

Passengers who hold tickets for travel on No. 58 between March 6 and April 1 will instead travel on No. 1158.

That train will operate on the schedule of No. 58 and serve all of its stations. It will use the equipment normally assigned to No. 390.

The northbound schedule for Train 392 (Illini) and the southbound schedules for Trains 59 (City of New Orleans), 391 (Saluki) and 393 (Illini) are unchanged for this period.

The National Limited Takes a Detour

December 19, 2016
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The westbound National Limited arrives in the station at Mattoon, Ilinois, in May 1977 on a detour move. The train is using the former New York Central route to St. Louis due to track work on its regular route over the former Pennsylvania Railroad route via Effingham, Illinois.

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The National Limited handled mail from New York to Los Angeles that was interchanged to the Southwest Limited in Kansas City. Note that the former NYC passenger platform is still in place at right nine years after the last NYC passenger train here was discontinued.

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The Amtrak conductor and two other crew members wait in the vestibule of a coach as the eastbound National Limited arrives in Mattoon, Illinois, in May 1977 on a detour move.

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The eastbound National Limited departs from Mattoon, Illinois, on former New York Central rails. It will regain its regular route in Terre Haute, Indiana. A portion of the former NYC passenger station is visible at right.

It was not unusual for Amtrak’s National Limited to detour between Terre Haute, Indiana, and St. Louis.

The scheduled route was via the former Pennsylvania Railroad via Effingham, Illlinois, but the Penn Central dispatcher had the option of running the train over the ex-New York Central route through Mattoon, Illinois.

After Conrail took over Penn Central in 1976, it began rebuilding the ex-Pennsy route used by Amtrak Nos. 30 and 31.

In late April 1977, the National Limited was rescheduled to operate during the afternoon hours between St. Louis and Effingham. That also coincided with the track gang hours.

So, for a good part of May 1977, Nos. 30 and 31 detoured via the ex-NYC route, making the Effingham stop at the former NYC passenger platform in Mattoon

The last NYC passenger train through Mattoon had been discontinued in March 1968, but the platform was still in place on the south side of the tracks.

I was a young reporter for the Mattoon Journal Gazette and I gave myself an assignment one afternoon to cover the detour of the National Limited.

I went down to the tracks, interviewed waiting passengers, and made photographs of both trains using Kodak Tri-X film.

Much has changed since that May 1977 day. The National Limited was discontinued on Oct. 1, 1979, and in March 1982, Conrail abandoned the former NYC tracks through Mattoon. The rails were picked up a year later.

The former NYC station has since been razed. The platforms remained in place for several years after the tracks were pulled up, but were eventually taken out in the early 2000s to make way for a parking lot for the YMCA.

Last Hurrah for the Prairie Marksman

December 11, 2016

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If you remember Amtrak’s Prairie Marksman you are either an old guy or really know your Amtrak history.

The Chicago-East Peoria, Illinois, train operated for just two years with funding from the State of Illinois.

Low ridership and a state budget crunch would lead to the train being discontinued in early October 1981. The state had considered Nos. 311 and 312 to be experimental.

I rode the last westbound trip to East Peoria on Oct. 3, 1981. For the final trips, Amtrak assigned a Heritage fleet coach which was given a Prairie Marksman drum head. This image was made at Chicago Union Station before the train departed.

The Prairie Marksman name was used for a Toledo, Peoria & Western business car and for a freight rain. The TP&W once used the slogan “The Route of the Prairie Marksman,” but I found no evidence in a search of the Official Guide of the Railways that the TP&W had a passenger train of that name.

Boarding in Champaign-Urbana

October 5, 2016

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As the home of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana is one of busiest Amtrak stations in the Midwest. Much of the traffic is travels between here and Chicago, but a fair number of passengers board here to go to Carbondale, the home of Southern Illinois University.

Depending on how the trains are operating, there might be a few minutes to step off if you are a through passenger. That was the case on this day in May 2000. I was riding from Chicago to Mattoon, Illinois, but No. 391 was on time or even a little early.

I had enough time to get off and make a few photographs before getting back on board.

 

Normal May Pay for Underpass Study

October 3, 2016

The City of Normal, Illinois, may fund a $1.4 million study of the feasibility of building a pedestrian underpass under tracks used by Amtrak in that central Illinois community located on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgThe underpass would cost an estimated $10 million. The city was poised to begin a $6.3 million overpass two years but halted that project when members of the city council sought more research.

If the underpass study is approved, it would be finished by Oct. 15, 2018. The study is expected to determine how much an underpass would cost and what engineering issues might arise.

The underpass would connect the area of Uptown Circle to land south of the railroad tracks, which the city hopes will improve access and promote redevelopment south of the tracks. The study will be conducted by consulting firm WSP Parsons Brickerhoff.

In the meantime, Normal plans to construct a temporary at-grade crossing at the Amtrak station, which is being expanded.

City officials said construction of a boarding platform and other improvements are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Amtrak No. 1 on No. 380 at Highlands

September 30, 2016

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There is something special about number one. Numero Uno often is used to designate the winner of something, often a sports team that won a championship.

Not many railroads have locomotives with roster numbers in the single digits. Most Amtrak locomotive roster numbers are three digits but an exception was made for the P42DC fleet, which began with No. 1

There is nothing out of the ordinary about P42DC No. 1 other than its number. Nonetheless, I was excited to see it leading the Illinois Zephyr past Highlands on the BNSF raceway in Chicago a few years ago.

Just over a year later I would see No. 1 again, this time in Portland Oregon. It would lead the Portland section of the Empire Builder eastward and I would ride behind it all the way to Chicago.

When Amfleet Was New in the Midwest

September 22, 2016

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Amfleet equipment had been assigned to Midwest corridor trains for just over a year when I made this image of the southbound Shawnee arriving in Effingham, Illinois, on a cold Saturday morning in February.

The Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois, train was scheduled into Effingham in late morning and on this day was running close to on time.

Because of its daylight schedule I frequently saw Nos. 391 and 392, and photographed them a few times in the late 1970s.

A trainman is looking for passengers as No. 391 arrives on the Illinois Central Gulf tracks at a union station that once served the Illinois Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In 1977, Effingham saw six Amtrak trains a day. Aside from the Shawnee, the city was served by the Chicago-New Orleans Panama Limited and the New York-Kansas City National Limited.

My recollection is the trainman is not wearing an Amtrak uniform. Some ICG employees assigned to Amtrak service did not wear passenger uniforms. It might have been because they did not regularly work Amtrak trains. There may have been another reason for that.

Amfleet equipment was an upgrade at the time that it was introduced in the Midwest because it provided consistent climate control. Trains were neither too hot or too cold, and the new equipment was more reliable than much of the steam-heated equipment that it replaced.

The Shawnee  operated with one equipment set, making a daily roundtrip from Chicago to Carbondale. Crews changed at Champaign and Centralia just as the ICRR passenger train crews had. It would be several years before the crew district became Chicago-Carbondale.

It would also be several years before the Shawnee would become a state-funded train and renamed the Illini. In the 1970s, the Shawnee was part of Amtrak’s basic network.

Gloomy Morning in Dubuque

September 9, 2016

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It was a cloudy, foggy and all-around gloomy morning in Dubuque, Iowa, when I arrived at the former Illinois Central station to board the Chicago-bound Black Hawk.

I had driven through the night from my home in downstate Illinois to reach Dubuque to get the mileage on a route I’d never ridden before. I didn’t have much time to do that for Nos. 371 and 371 were to be discontinued at the end of September 1981. That was about two weeks away when I rode the Black Hawk.

It was a Saturday morning and my hazy recollection is that I arrived well before departure time. When it got light enough I made this photograph, which is the only image that I have of the Black Hawk.

The station still has Illinois Central prominently carved in stone on the side, which is a reminder of a time when trains with such names as Hawkeye and Land ‘O Corn used to call here.

The Black Hawk had a short, but colorful life. It started with Rail Diesel equipment that was trouble-prone. Then it received an array of equipment including a consist that had bullet nose observation cars on each end of the train.

It must have been fun to photograph the Black Hawk back in those days. Eventually, Amtrak received enough Amfleet equipment to assign to the route and the electric equipment assignments ended.

On this day No. 372 has the standard Midwest corridor consist of the time of an F40PH locomotive and a pair of Amfleet cars, one of them a food service car.

The return trip to Dubque that night, though, had a P30CH locomotive on the point. I had booked a motel room for Saturday night in Dubuque so I could return home on Sunday in daylight.

I don’t remember a whole lot about the trip or what I did in Chicago during my layover. I am grateful now, though, that I made at least one photo of the Black Hawk.

Late Night Hiawatha Service to Continue

September 7, 2016

The trial period of late Saturday night Hiawatha Service will continue.

Hiawatha 2Amtrak said it is extending indefinitely the operation of Train 343, which leaves Chicago at 11:10 p.m., and Train 344, which departs Milwaukee at 10:40 p.m.

Nos. 343 and 344 will replace Trains 329 and 330, which will continue to operate on weekdays. Amtrak said a Thruway Bus leaving at 6 a.m. will replace Train 330 on Saturdays.

Amtrak said in a news release that the Saturday late evening trains have shown higher ridership during the trial period than the early morning trains they replaced.

The Hiawatha Service is funded by the departments of transportation of Illinois and Wisconsin.

About 800,000 passengers rode Hiawatha trains last year. Intermediate stops include Glenview in Illinois and Sturtevant and Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport in Wisconsin.

Because Amtrak ticket offices on the route are closed before the departures of Trains 343 and 344, passengers may purchase tickets onboard the train without penalty.

Amtrak’s Quik-Trak kiosks are available at all stations except Glenview. More information about the Hiawatha Service route is available at Amtrak.com/Hiawatha-train

Carlinville Station Work Gets Underway

September 7, 2016

Carlinville, Illinois, officials recently broke ground for a new Amtrak station that has been years in the making.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgMost of the $3 million cost of the station is being paid by the federal government with the city paying $70,000.

The station, which is expected to open in June 2017, will serve Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio (Los Angeles) Texas Eagle.

Carlinville mayor Deanna Demuzio expects the station to attract passengers from a number of surrounding cities.

“We’re the only train station in (Macoupin) county. We’ll bring in a number of outside cities. It will become a regional hub for a number of passengers,” Demuzio said.