At the top of my “gotta do” list – things I “gotta do” before it’s too late – is go to Chicago and back by train. And it looks like it’s gotta happen this summer.
If not, chances are Amtrak will no longer offer the trip after October 1. Congress has decided it will fund no Amtrak trips shorter than 750 miles after that date.
I don’t know why. Rail travel has got to be the most efficient and inexpensive way to go almost anywhere. The fare for my wife and I to make that trip is $46. No way I could drive for that. After all, CSX boasts of hauling a ton of freight 436 miles on a single gallon of fuel. Considering our combined weight, it would take less than a teaspoon of fuel to take my wife and me to Chicago and back.
The Amtrak “Hoosier State” leaves Indianapolis Union Station at 6 a.m. It arrives at Chicago’s Union Station at 10:05 a.m. The Amtrak “Cardinal” leaves Chicago at 11:01 a.m and pulls into Indianapolis at 1:40 p.m.
That means you could spend the whole day doing Chicago, check into a hotel for the night, and after breakfast the next day, enjoy a leisurely ride back home. Or, if you wanted to make the trip just for the sake of doing it, you could grab a quick lunch in Chicago and return the same day.
Amtrak tells us 37,000 passengers made that trip last year. It might be even more this year what with gasoline prices lingering near the $4 mark. And next year, who knows? It’s up to the State of Indiana to decide whether the route will continue. The annual federal subsidy has been $4 million.
Either way, we’re going. If we like it and the route continues, we may do it again next year.