Sunday, July 08, 2007


I have already blogged a brief description of our arrival into the Windy City – here are the details I left out.

Arrival in Chicago was delayed by “road work” and our encounter with the fuel leak in Havre. When we got to Milwaukee only ninety minutes late, I thought maybe we could make up that time with the “wiggle room” Amtrak leaves at the end of the schedule. But the Chicago Metra trains had their way with us and after cruising south at top speed for the first 30 miles, we came to a dead stop. Then we basically crept into Union Station apparently following two of the Metra as they made their rush hour returns to the city. This is another example of where America needs to make a decision about rail. Either we have an efficient passenger rail system, or we don’t. This half-way business is a lot of crap.

The problems with passenger rail apparently were created when the national highway system and then air travel became the predominant way Americans moved about the country. The freight trains then took over the rail and only kept track they met their needs.

When Amtrak was established something like 30 years ago, they tried to co-exist with the freights. But in many cases, the freights own the track and their rules give priority to freight traffic over passengers. This is grossly evident on the Albany to Boston run where the track is now owned by CSX and a 200 mile run often takes 6-7 hours. If any other transportation system was run this poorly the consumers would be up in arms. Wait, check that. The airline industry in now just as bad and people put up with it. Ugh.

Anyway, we finally made it to Chicago where I was met by Cousin Ralph and had a wonderful, albeit brief visit. We have started initial planning for a family adventure next summer.

Thank you Cousin Ralph for a wonderful dinner and visit!

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