Monday, September 26, 2016

Chicago Route for the City of New Orleans

In addition to the City of New Orleans, Amtrak uses the CN/IC "mainline" to run two trains a day to Carbondale, IL: the Saluki and the Illini. [Amtrak]  IC used to terminate their passenger trains at Central Station. When Amtrak took over in 1971, they reduced the number of trains run so that they would all fit in Union Station. To see how the IC trains can get from the IC tracks along the lakefront to Union Station, I include this annotated railroad map so that the text makes more sense.

The inbound trains turn west on the east/west line near the bottom labeled "IC - AMTRAK," which is the St. Charles Railroad. Where I added the blue text "16th" text is where IC crossed the former Rock Island and NYC lines. [Tower, Tracks in the Area] This north/south line to La Salle Street Station is now owned by Metra and services just commuter trains.

Steven J. Brown posted

Amtrak City of New Orleans descends the St Charles

Airline into Chicago - January 23, 1988.
[Inbound train]
Option 1 to run trains from the IC mainline to Union Station is to continue west across the St. Charles Bridge; a viaduct over Amtrak's Yard, BNSF/CB&Q's Commuter Yard, and Canal Street; and down the ramp in the photo on which Steven caught the City of New Orleans until the train is completely on BNSF/CB&Q tracks. The few times I went to New Orleans, the train then backed up and turned north into the Union Station. But a comment by Tad Dunville, "Passengers be like: "please back in please back in please back in". Nobody ever likes to take the long way around that wye." indicates sometimes it backups up to the south across the Canal Street RR Bridge then goes north in Union Station. I can understand why the passengers don't like this route. Note only would it take longer, you then have to also walk pass the head-end cars and the engines to get into the station. An outbound train would back south out of the station, around the curve to the west on BNSF/CB&Q and then go forward over the St. Charles viaduct and bridge to the IC mainline on the east side of town.

I and Aaron Sims commented that the B&OCT Bridge was down in 1988. Steven explained: "The B&OCT bridge could be occasionally found in the down position into the early 1990s. A few cars would be infrequently shuttled into and out of the last track left on the big parcel of land where Grand Central Station stood. This was done as a legal exercise to prove that the trackage and area were technically still in use."

Steven J. Brown posted

Amtrak City of New Orleans takes a right

onto the connection to the Illinois Central
at 21st Street in Chicago - July 4, 1989.
[Outbound train]
Steven J. Brown In the late 80's and early 90's
it would regularly take either way.
Option 2 is to turn south just after it crossed the 16th Street Interlocking and head southwest on what I think of as the ICwest. More accurately, it was the Chicago, Madison & Northern branch of the IC. (Between 1984 and 1996, it was the Chicago Central and Pacific. But IC bought it back.) It is on the ICwest route for just a short distance because it will turn south onto the (green) Amtrak/Metra route. Once the train is completely on the Metra track, it will backup north across the Canal Street RR Bridge to the Union Station. Steven's photo catches an outbound train using the connector from the Metra route to the ICwest route. You can see some of the remaining diamonds of the 21st Street Crossing.

The CREATE P4 Project will eliminate these convoluted paths to the Union Station for Amtrak trains using the CN/IC mainline tracks.

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