What's up with that?
Q: Why do Amtrak trains pull out of Union Station backwards?
A: The Amtrak lines traveling south to Carbondale and New Orleans use the former Illinois Central Railroad track, which runs south along the lakefront and perpendicular to Union Station, but does not have a direct connecting track into the station. To get to the Illinois Central track from Union Station, the trains for these two lines must pull out backwards for a half mile onto Amtrak tracks that run due west. Then the trains move forward and continue east until the track meets the former Illinois Central track, where they turn right and head south. According to Marc Magliari, media relations manager for Amtrak’s Chicago office, a program called CREATE (Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) would build a connection so the Carbondale and New Orleans lines could use a track that runs due south from Union Station, eliminating the three-point turn. The project is awaiting funding. Until then, doing it backwards is the only option.—Amber Drea
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