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Boarding in Chicago Union Station


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#1 Guest_tobias köhler_*

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 04:29 AM

Hello from Austria. I'm booked to land at Chicago O'Hare 14:20 on 2017 august 18, for a short time I considered booking the Amtrak train at 16:00 from Union Station but then decided differently because I don't know how long luggage handling and passport control at the airport will take.

 

So now I booked train 354 Wolverine departing 18:00 to Kalamazoo 21:10. I read [url]https://www.amtrak.com/chicago-union-station-boarding[/url] which says boarding starts 30 minutes before departure, according to [url]https://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=am/am2Station/Station_Page&code=CHI[/url] the arrival time is 45 minutes before - I wonder what takes so long? Anywhere in Europe I just walk up to the train with my ticket a few minutes before departure (with the exception of the eurostar that has additional security checks). How long does it take in practice?

 

Allowing an hour to get from O'Hare airport to Union Station (strangely blue line does not seem to have a direct stop there) I should still have more than an hour to make up for any delays wherever.

 

There is also a warning of possible delays on the Wolverine, does anyone have recent reports on how it's doing?

 

Thanks and greetings! tobias



#2 PerRock

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:33 AM

Boarding at CUS isn't like Europe at all, it's more akin to an airport (multiple "reasons", personally I think they should just do the European style...). There's a lot of ticket checking & line waiting before getting on board, the main reason is that Amtrak thinks you might get on the wrong train. That's really what takes so long. If you travel Business Class you can use the Metropolitan (first class) Lounge which will give you priority boarding, skipping the lines.

 

The Blue Line doesn't really come close to Union Station to offer an official stop there, you're best bets are to alight at Jackson and walk the 6/7ish blocks to the station. Alternatively you can change to the Loop trains at 

Clark/Lake and alight at Quincy/Wells, it'll save you 3 blocks of walking over Jackson. You final other option, is to take the Metra from O'Hare (there's a bus that'll get you to the transfer station) directly to Union Station, however service is less frequent than the L. There's also buses & taxis.

 

Current delays are due to an outage on the Positive Train Control system, not sure the ETA for repairs, but I know that yesterday 354 was an hour late getting into Ann Arbor. Delays for the current on-going track work have been built into the current schedule, but can also cause the occasional additional delay.

 

peter


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#3 DoB

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 08:52 PM

From the Blue Line, the closest stop to Union Station is Clinton. Note that you'll have to climb stairs to get out of Clinton.

#4 Acela150

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:05 PM

It should be noted that the PTC has been restored.
These posts are my views and opinions.

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#5 SarahZ

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:06 PM

From the Blue Line, the closest stop to Union Station is Clinton. Note that you'll have to climb stairs to get out of Clinton.

 

This is the one I use. It's about 2-3 blocks versus the 6-7 blocks from Jackson.


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#6 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:09 PM

From the Blue Line, the closest stop to Union Station is Clinton. Note that you'll have to climb stairs to get out of Clinton.

 
This is the one I use. It's about 2-3 blocks versus the 6-7 blocks from Jackson.
I used Jackson because I didn't want to lug my big suitcase up stairs. Otherwise I would have used Clinton.

#7 Lonestar648

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:18 PM

Just a note, if you want to Pre-Board, but are not in Business Class, you can pay the fee for the Legacy Lounge off the Great Hall.  Some Coach passengers wait in the Legacy since it is more comfortable and you skip the lines and first come first board Boarding Pass given when you check in if doing general boarding.



#8 Rincewind

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 05:24 PM

Hello from Austria. I'm booked to land at Chicago O'Hare 14:20 on 2017 august 18, for a short time I considered booking the Amtrak train at 16:00 from Union Station but then decided differently because I don't know how long luggage handling and passport control at the airport will take.

 

So now I booked train 354 Wolverine departing 18:00 to Kalamazoo 21:10. I read https://www.amtrak.c...tation-boarding which says boarding starts 30 minutes before departure, according to https://www.amtrak.c...n_Page&code=CHI the arrival time is 45 minutes before - I wonder what takes so long? Anywhere in Europe I just walk up to the train with my ticket a few minutes before departure (with the exception of the eurostar that has additional security checks). How long does it take in practice?

 

Are you sure this a good idea? You write about passport control, so I assume you are on a direct flight from Europe and you will go through immigration and customs there? As a Non U.S. Citizen your wait time can be up to two hours, maybe even more. The travel time between the airport and the Union Station is another hour, maybe a litte more. You don't know the route and will need some time for orientation. Getting there in time for the 4pm train is impossible and even the 6pm train is a gamble...



#9 the_traveler

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 06:18 PM

[quote name="AmtrakBlue" post="720835" timestamp="1502849343"][quote name="SarahZ" post="720834" timestamp="1502849212"][quote name="DoB" post="720831" timestamp="1502848373"]From the Blue Line, the closest stop to Union Station is Clinton. Note that you'll have to climb stairs to get out of Clinton.[/quote]
 
This is the one I use. It's about 2-3 blocks versus the 6-7 blocks from Jackson.[/quote]
I used Jackson because I didn't want to lug my big suitcase up stairs. Otherwise I would have used Clinton.[/quote]
Same here. The Jackson stop has an elevator, while the Clinton stop only has stairs.
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#10 Manny T

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 10:24 PM

So in US terms you are "scheduled" to arrive on an international flight at 2:20 PM at Ohare and leave aboard a train departing CUS at 6 PM. That gives you 3 hours and 40 minutes to make the connection.

 

Ohare is in the far northwest corner of Chicago IL. Union Station is downtown. Google maps puts the distance at 16 miles and gives the time to travel to Clinton station on on the Blue line at between 46 minutes and 1 hour.

 

Theoretically this is doable. Especially if everything goes well. But:

What makes you think your flight will arrive on time? How long will it take you to go through customs and immigration? How long will it take you to retrieve your luggage? How long will it take you to walk from your terminal to the Blue line station at Ohare? How long will you have to wait for the train to depart? Then 1 hour for travel. Then you have to walk from Clinton Street to Union station (not far, 15 mins.) Then you have to find your departure track and line up and board. And that's assuming (i) there are no delays on the Blue Line and (ii) you don't get lost along the way.

 

Me, I would add 4 hours just to be safe. Good luck!



#11 caravanman

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 04:21 AM

Hi,

As a frequent visitor to Chicago from Europe, and an Amtrak fan, I agree with Manny T about the high risk of missing your 18.00 hrs train.

It is probably the delay at immigration, and travel time after exit from the airport that will be the issue.

If you have your Amtrak ticket, and can get to the departure gate 15 mins before time, there should not be any problem boarding a train.

Gates close before departure time, don't arrive with only 5 minutes to departure!

As others have said, Clinton is the nearest station, but does involve stairs up to street level.

It is possible that you will sail through immigration, and get there on time, and I too hope this is the case.

 

Cheers,

 

Ed.


Edited by caravanman, 18 August 2017 - 04:22 AM.


#12 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 05:48 AM

Boarding at CUS isn't like Europe at all, it's more akin to an airport (multiple "reasons", personally I think they should just do the European style...). There's a lot of ticket checking & line waiting before getting on board, the main reason is that Amtrak thinks you might get on the wrong train. That's really what takes so long.


I don't think the main reason is that Amtrak wants you to get on the correct train. If that was the main focus they'd improve the signage, replace their gate dragons with platform assistants, and let you start boarding as soon as the train was in position. If getting on the right train was important they wouldn't block everyone from boarding, open the floodgates for just a few brief minutes while everyone tries to rush through, and then arbitrarily close the platform again several minutes before departure. Whatever Amtrak's reasoning may be, it doesn't appear to have anything to do with helping passengers reach their trains.

I used to be with ‘it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary.


#13 jis

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 08:51 AM

 

Boarding at CUS isn't like Europe at all, it's more akin to an airport (multiple "reasons", personally I think they should just do the European style...). There's a lot of ticket checking & line waiting before getting on board, the main reason is that Amtrak thinks you might get on the wrong train. That's really what takes so long.


I don't think the main reason is that Amtrak wants you to get on the correct train. If that was the main focus they'd improve the signage, replace their gate dragons with platform assistants, and let you start boarding as soon as the train was in position. If getting on the right train was important they wouldn't block everyone from boarding, open the floodgates for just a few brief minutes while everyone tries to rush through, and then arbitrarily close the platform again several minutes before departure. Whatever Amtrak's reasoning may be, it doesn't appear to have anything to do with helping passengers reach their trains.

 

It may be a jobs program for some that cannot be placed anywhere else. Sort of a parking place with very little competent supervision. :P :D



#14 zephyr17

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 12:53 PM

 

Boarding at CUS isn't like Europe at all, it's more akin to an airport (multiple "reasons", personally I think they should just do the European style...). There's a lot of ticket checking & line waiting before getting on board, the main reason is that Amtrak thinks you might get on the wrong train. That's really what takes so long.


I don't think the main reason is that Amtrak wants you to get on the correct train. If that was the main focus they'd improve the signage, replace their gate dragons with platform assistants, and let you start boarding as soon as the train was in position. If getting on the right train was important they wouldn't block everyone from boarding, open the floodgates for just a few brief minutes while everyone tries to rush through, and then arbitrarily close the platform again several minutes before departure. Whatever Amtrak's reasoning may be, it doesn't appear to have anything to do with helping passengers reach their trains.

 

You mean you'd like to have Amtrak board the same way in Chicago as they do in Los Angeles?  Horrors!


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#15 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 01:00 PM

 

 

Boarding at CUS isn't like Europe at all, it's more akin to an airport (multiple "reasons", personally I think they should just do the European style...). There's a lot of ticket checking & line waiting before getting on board, the main reason is that Amtrak thinks you might get on the wrong train. That's really what takes so long.


I don't think the main reason is that Amtrak wants you to get on the correct train. If that was the main focus they'd improve the signage, replace their gate dragons with platform assistants, and let you start boarding as soon as the train was in position. If getting on the right train was important they wouldn't block everyone from boarding, open the floodgates for just a few brief minutes while everyone tries to rush through, and then arbitrarily close the platform again several minutes before departure. Whatever Amtrak's reasoning may be, it doesn't appear to have anything to do with helping passengers reach their trains.

 

You mean you'd like to have Amtrak board the same way in Chicago as they do in Los Angeles?  Horrors!

 

Not surprisingly LAUS is my favorite large station in North America. ^_^  I just wish Amtrak felt the same way I do. -_-


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 18 August 2017 - 01:03 PM.

I used to be with ‘it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary.


#16 caravanman

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 01:53 PM

 

Boarding at CUS isn't like Europe at all, it's more akin to an airport (multiple "reasons", personally I think they should just do the European style...). There's a lot of ticket checking & line waiting before getting on board, the main reason is that Amtrak thinks you might get on the wrong train. That's really what takes so long.


I don't think the main reason is that Amtrak wants you to get on the correct train. If that was the main focus they'd improve the signage, replace their gate dragons with platform assistants, and let you start boarding as soon as the train was in position. If getting on the right train was important they wouldn't block everyone from boarding, open the floodgates for just a few brief minutes while everyone tries to rush through, and then arbitrarily close the platform again several minutes before departure. Whatever Amtrak's reasoning may be, it doesn't appear to have anything to do with helping passengers reach their trains.

 

 

Tip 'o the hat to Devil's Advocate, this made me laugh!

 

Ed.



#17 Bob Dylan

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 01:54 PM

Ditto!

Chris nailed this one!
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Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#18 RSG

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 03:50 PM

It may be a jobs program for some that cannot be placed anywhere else. Sort of a parking place with very little competent supervision. :P :D

 

This is probably the best explanation of why particular individuals at CUS have the jobs they do. It's the same reason most Walmart greeters aren't called on to unload trucks when they arrive at the dock.



#19 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 11:18 AM

When you ask for a redcap, do they set you up with one in particular, or do you wait for a redcap to come into the lounge and say, "Anyone for the Empire Builder, come with me"? And it's the lounge agent you ask for a redcap, not the redcaps themselves? 

 

I have finally figured out that we have been mistaken about the Chicago dragons--they are actually doing an excellent job, because their whole purpose is to keep you in Chicago so you will spend travel money there instead of elsewhere! :giggle:



#20 the_traveler

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 02:40 PM

When you're in the ML, anyone who wants to walk to the train goes to the train. Anyone who wants a Red Cap waits just outside the door until a Red Cap is available. (There will be others waiting most likely.)
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!



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