Posts Tagged ‘platforms at Chicago Union Station’

Your Sleeping Car Awaits

January 4, 2017


If you are holding a sleeper class ticket on Amtrak this is your first view of your train as you board at Chicago Union Station.

You’ve probably been sitting in the Metropolitan Lounge a good hour or more. Perhaps you had a few hours between trains and did some sightseeing or went out to lunch. After all, the Berghoff is within easy walking distance of the station, just a few blocks down Adams Street.

But all that is behind you and the gate agent has led passengers out of the lounge and directed them to their train.

This happens to be No. 7, the westbound Empire Builder. It will have three sleepers as it departs Chicago today. Two are bound for Seattle and one is going to Portland.

There is a bit of rush every time I approach my train when I have sleeping accommodations. I stow away my luggage, settle into my seat and then watch the scene unfold as other Amtrak and Metra trains board and then depart or arrive. My journey is about to begin.

Amtrak Institutes New Chicago Boarding Procedure

November 18, 2016

Amtrak institute new boarding procedures for coach passengers at Chicago Union Station last month.

Amtrak logoPassengers boarding trains that require reservations are now required to check in on the day of travel and obtain a boarding pass.

Once passengers have checked in and received a boarding pass, they will be directed to the appropriate boarding area to wait for their train.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said “the earlier you check in, the earlier you’ll be in the boarding process. If you don’t check in, you’ll be among the last to board.”

The check-in procedure will not apply to Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains because they are unreserved.

Boarding will begin about a half-hour before departure and passengers will board with their assigned group much in the same way that Southwest Airlines handles boarding of its planes.

According to the service advisory, general boarding for passengers traveling in coach class will take place in the Great Hall where there will be signs directing passengers to the location of their assigned group.

Passengers may purchase a $20 priority boarding pass for the Legacy Club, making them the first coach class group to board. Uniformed military personnel can enjoy the Legacy Club free of charge.

Seniors age 62 and over, customers with disabilities, families with children 12 and under, and non-uniformed active duty military personnel can board with assistance from the south boarding lounge, ahead of general boarding.

Passengers in sleeping car or business Class, or are a Select Plus or a Select Executive Amtrak Guest Rewards member will not need a boarding pass. They will board from the Metropolitan Lounge and continue to receive advance boarding.

Amtrak advised that passengers should be at Chicago Union Station no later than 45 minutes before departure and 60 minutes if assistance is needed with ticketing, baggage, pets, bikes or other services. Boarding gates will close five minutes before train departure time.

Night of Change in September 1995

October 4, 2016


It’s the evening of Sept. 9, 1995. Train No. 50, the Cardinal, is boarding passengers at Chicago Union Station to go to New York for the final time.

It has been more than a decade since the administration of Thomas Downs engaged in a massive Amtrak route restructuring that had it been fully implemented would have wiped out far more service than it did.

As part of that restructuring, Amtrak cut back the eastern terminus of the Cardinal to Washington, D.C., and assigned Superliner equipment to the tri-weekly train.

Later this evening, the Broadway Limited would depart for New York for the last time, leaving Amtrak with just one Chicago-New York train.

You are looking at the last Cardinal to depart Chicago with Heritage Fleet equipment although Amfleet II coaches had been regulars for some time.

The Cardinal would eventually resume going to New York and the Superliner equipment was assigned elsewhere. But on this day, the changes about to occur had the appearance of being permanent.