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Trip Report

Chicago-Cleveland via Amtrak

April 19-25, 2005

Shrewsbury, England


I have just returned from the USA after travelling to Cleveland, Ohio to propose to my girlfriend. It is my second trip in two months and on both occasions I used Amtrak to make the connection from Chicago to Cleveland. Here is a brief summary of my recent trip.

Tuesday 19th April 2005

Arrived at O'Hare International airport on time to be met by my friend, Adrian, who lives in Florida after emigrating from the UK last year. He managed to get a "buddy pass" from his wife to fly up to meet me and then return by Amtrak via Washington to West Palm Beach using the same train as me although he knew I had to "jump ship" at Cleveland.

We took the EL downtown and checked into our hotel before moving downstairs to the "Elephant & Castle" pub for a meal and a few drinks and a chance for him to catch up on news from back home. Due to the length of my day (I'd left home at 01.30 that morning CT) we retired early for some rest.

Wednesday 20th April 2005

Our train was to be Train 30 "Capitol Limited" at 17.35 from Union Station so we had a few hours to kill. Baggage checked in, we wanted to go up the Sears Tower after grabbing some breakfast. Our trip up the Sears Tower was shortened by low cloud but we had a magnificent view of the rail yards south of the city before the weather turned.

We trekked across to the OTC (Ogilvie Transportation Center) and decided to take a ride out to Geneva and back on the Metra. I was glad that the Metra use real locomotives on its network and not the charmless shiny electric plastic that we have so much of in the UK.

On arrival back in Chicago we made our way to Union Station and awaited boarding our train. We wanted to travel together but could not find a seat so we set up camp in the observation lounge. We were soon told to go and sit in separate cars to have our tickets taken before returning to the lounge. Seems crazy to me that we had to sit in separate cars when the whole train was going through to Washington!!!

The daylight lasted a good while longer than on my previous journey on this train before the clocks changed and we enjoyed the scenery of the many rail yards to be seen around Gary and South Bend. We ate in the dining car and enjoyed the company of a Wisconsin farmer who was travelling to New York to see his daughters. He told us he makes the trip a few times each year as he hates flying.

Unlike my previous trip the train made reasonable time and was only 5 minutes down leaving Toledo. After leaving Elyria I said my goodbyes to Adrian and made my way back to the Cleveland car to get ready to leave the train. However we came to a stand near Hopkins airport and eventually crawled into Cleveland Lakeside Station some 45 minutes late.

Adrian informed me that the train was about 90 minutes late into Washington and that the locomotives were 86 + 150.

His journey from Washington to West Palm Beach was some six and a half hours late due to a freight train derailment south of Orlando!!

I had 4 wonderful days in Cleveland and my lady said "Yes!"

Monday 25th April 2005

Sadly I had to return home and I was due to catch train 49 at 2.56am from Cleveland but on arrival at the station I was told the train was already 3+ hours behind schedule and I would be on train 29, the return "Capitol Limited". As my fiance had to work that morning she left me at the station as I did not want her to wait there all night.

Train 48 arrived some 35 minutes early and sat in the station for almost an hour before departing for New York behind locomotives 85 + 101. I saw about 15 freight trains pass by before my train eventually arrived behind 164 + 181. Departure from Cleveland was 5.30am some 70 minutes down. This meant that most of the trip was in daylight, although I fell asleep and missed the hotspot of Toledo completely! I awoke near Waterloo and remained awake for the remainder of the journey. Plenty of freight trains were to be seen on this busy Norfolk Southern route and their motive power was very much in evidence.

Arrival in Chicago was only 30 minutes down so time had been made up at some point.

I expect to be making this trip again soon, although next time it should be a one way trip to marriage!

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