Special train offers same-day round-trip from Chicago and Champaign
CHICAGO – If you want to be in Carbondale, Ill., the best place in the U.S. to see the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, Amtrak has a new option: nap your way from Chicago or Champaign and back on the Amtrak Eclipse Express. There’s no need for expensive lodging or driving. Instead, you can spend the day enjoying the cosmic event, thanks to an Amtrak partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and CN railway, which owns the route.
Early in the morning of Aug. 21, for $153 adult round-trip from Chicago Union Station or $90 per adult round-trip from Champaign, we will dim the lights as you recline in a comfortable coach seat, enjoy cellular-based AmtrakConnect® Wi-Fi or have a snack or a beverage from the café car. Both the main entrance to Chicago Union Station at 225 S. Canal St. and the café car will be open prior to the 3:00 a.m. departure. The Champaign departure is at 5:05 a.m.
Each customer will receive eclipse viewing glasses, compliments of Amtrak and Carbondale Tourism, before arrival in Carbondale at 8:30 a.m. The Amtrak Eclipse Express will leave Carbondale at 5:15 p.m. to return to Champaign at 7:55 p.m. and to Chicago at 10:45 p.m., after a full day of fun (all times Central). A souvenir timetable is available for downloading Monday.
Amtrak, a sponsor of the Carbondale Eclipse celebration, invites everyone to visit vendors at the Eclipse Marketplace or take in the tunes at the Family Fun Zone and Shadowfest, all within walking distance of the Amtrak station at 401 S. Illinois Ave. Amtrak customers can get a discounted ticket to enjoy Eclipse Day at Southern Illinois University’s Saluki Stadium by buying online from the university’s website and entering the promo code TRAIN.
This is the first North American coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in about a century. It is predicted to have the longest duration near Carbondale at 1:28 p.m. for 2 minutes, 38 seconds.
The Amtrak Eclipse Express is expected to quickly sell out on Amtrak.com, the Amtrak mobile apps, by calling 800-USA-RAIL or from a station ticket window. Some of the six other daily Amtrak trains between Chicago and Carbondale, via Champaign, still have space during the eclipse celebration weekend and are the only trains taking reservations for customers traveling with pets or bicycles.
Other ways to use Amtrak to witness history in Carbondale:
If you want to go between Chicago or Downstate Illinois and Carbondale in the days leading up to the 21st or after, you can save 30 percent. Just make sure to book before Aug. 21, to take advantage of these impressive savings on the IDOT-sponsored Illini and Saluki trains with remaining space.
There is also space still available to arrive in Carbondale early on Aug. 21 from Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi or Louisiana, with a return to the south early the morning of the 22nd, on Amtrak City of New Orleans trains. Equipped with sleeping cars or reclining coach seats with leg rests and foot rests, the famous train functions as its own lodging and restaurant as it travels to and from Memphis, Jackson, New Orleans and intermediate stops, with a sample adult fare of $42 each way between Memphis and Carbondale.
Amtrak – America’s Railroad® – is dedicated to safe and reliable mobility as the nation’s intercity passenger rail service provider and its high-speed rail operator. With our state and commuter partners, we move people, the economy and the nation forward, carrying more than 30 million Amtrak passengers for each of the past six years. Formally known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Amtrak is governed by a 10-member board of directors, nine of whom are appointed by the President of the United States plus the Amtrak CEO. Anthony R. Coscia is board chairman and Jeffrey R. Moreland is vice chairman. Amtrak operates more than 300 trains daily – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – connecting more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Learn more at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and other information. Check us out at blog.Amtrak.com, Like us on Facebook.com and Follow us on Twitter @Amtrak.