Amtrak Restores Empire Builder Connections in Chicago

Due increased schedule reliability, Amtrak has restored guaranteed connections for the Eastbound Empire Builder in Chicago.  This is very important for passengers to make connections and generally feed the network.

“Effective today, May 1, 2015, due to improved timekeeping, connections in Chicago from trains 8/28/808, the eastbound Empire Builder, are restored to:
  • Train 383 to Quincy – departs 555p
  • Train 354 to Detroit and Pontiac – departs 600p
  • Train 370 to Grand Rapids – departs 630p (new time effective May 4, 2015)
  • Train 30 to Pittsburgh and Washington – departs 640p
  • And all departures thereafter.”

It looks like the closest connection that will now be ticketed is 2 hours from the arrival of train 8 at 355 PM to the 555 PM Illinois Zephyr for Macomb and Quincy.  The major connections that again are available are to train 30 (Capitol Limited) and the evening Wolverine service at 630 PM for Michigan cities.  Amtrak will as of yet not guarantee same-day Chicago connections to train 50, the Cardinal (Chicago to New York via Charleston, WV and Washington, DC) as this is just a 1 hour, 50 minute layover.

This is good news as the general consensus is that the the main reason for the decline in Empire Builder ridership in 2014, even more than late trains, was the inability to make same day connections in Chicago (and Portland).