Posts Tagged ‘Indianapolis Union Station’

Last Day For Amtrak In Indianapolis

October 11, 2018

It’s Oct. 1, 1979, and Amtrak’s National Limited is halting for the final time in Indianapolis.

With the on-time departure of No. 31 in late morning, the capital of Indiana will be without intercity rail passenger service.

But it won’t last for long. About a year later Amtrak launched the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State and Indy returned to the Amtrak route map.

The Ohio cities of Dayton and Columbus would not be so fortunate. When the National Limited stopped there for the final time, those cities would lose intercity rail passenger service for good.

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From the Vestibule Aboard the National Limited

May 31, 2017

In the early days of Amtrak, crew members often said little to nothing if you made photographs from the windows of the vestibule doors.

I’m sure there were crew members who would chase you out of the vestibule if they saw you standing there, but I had some good luck in being able to make images while the crew either looked the other way or gave their tacit approval.

The conductor of Amtrak’s westbound National Limited fell into the latter category along with the rear brakeman. In fact the brakeman talked to myself and another passenger at length and even led us to the vestibule window at the rear of the train.

In the photograph above, No. 31 is arriving at Indianapolis Union Station on a Saturday morning in April 1977. Those Amtrak passenger cars on the other tracks might be waiting to go to the Beech Grove shops. At the time Nos. 30 and 31 were the only Amtrak trains serving Indianapolis.

The bottom photograph was made as No. 31 was going around a curve in East St. Louis, Illinois, to cross the Mississippi River over MacArthur Bridge and enter St. Louis.

On the point of No. 31 are a pair of freight diesels, Penn Central SD35 No. 6029 and Conrail SD40 No. 6319, both former Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives. That seemed appropriate given that much of the route of the National Limited across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois was former PRR trackage. The exception was the track between Indianapolis and Terre Haute, Indiana, which was former New York Central.

I do not know where these freight units were put on. They were on  the train when it rolled in Dayton, Ohio, where I boarded. I can only guess that Amtrak E8A No. 477 had mechanical problems en route. By coincidence, No. 477 was also a former PRR diesel, No. 5790.

There were limits to the crew’s tolerance. After we crossed the Mississippi, the conductor came back and shooed us into the coach. I remember him saying, “I let  you ride [in the vestibule] across the river.”

Indeed he had and I was grateful for that. I returned to my seat where I remained for the rest of the journey to Kirkwood, Missouri.

Indiana Passenger Rail Group Pressuring Indianapolis to Fix Up Decrepit Union Station

February 9, 2017

The Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance is trying to pressure city officials into taking action to rehabilitate Indianapolis Union Station.

indianaThe facility, which is used by Amtrak and Greyhound, has been described by some rail advocates as a “civic embarrassment.”

The Rail Alliance has invited city leaders to meet with them to discuss how the station can be improved.

IPRA member Bill Malcolm said that the station is unwelcoming, unsightly and even scary.

“If it’s a turnoff to even go into that facility, people are not going to take advantage of it, [they won’t] take their families up to go shopping  . . . because it’s just kind of a frightening place,” Malcolm said.

The city’s department of Metropolitan Development operates the station, which is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal and the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State.

Indianapolis Union Station in April 1979

January 17, 2017

national-limited-april-9-1977-arriving-indianapolis

All major U.S. cities had a union station that was used by multiple railroads. By the time that Amtrak arrived, these monuments to the glory years of passenger trains had become expensive institutions whose high costs was one factor in dooming intercity rail passenger service in the 1960s.

Indianapolis is among a number of cities that have kept its union station during the Amtrak era.

When Amtrak began on May 1, 1971, the venerable depot was served by six trains, including the New York/Washington-Kansas City National Limited.

No. 31 is shown arriving at the train shed at Indianapolis Union Station on April 9, 1977. The cars parked on a station track to the right are bound for the Beech Grove shops.

At the time that this image was made, Indianapolis had just the National Limited. The Chicago-Miami/St. Petersburg Floridian and the Chicago-Washington James Whitcomb Riley had been routed away from the city due to poor Penn Central track conditions between Indy and Chicago.