Tag Archives: Illinois

Empire Builder’s Split

The Empire Builder has two destinations (from Chicago), Seattle and Portland. The train splits in the middle of the night, so don’t go into the club car at night. If you fall asleep, you could end up on the wrong train.

The scheduling of the Empire Builder is messed up in general. The train is scheduled to arrive in St. Paul at 10:30 which is already bad enough, but what do you do if the train is late? When do the buses stop running? Is the area around the train station safe at night?

The train also arrives in Fargo, North Dakota and other relatively large cities along the route in the middle of the night. Even so, this train is often booked. I wonder if the scheduling is bad to hide how much potential ridership there is along this route. I think that several cities along the route could support more than one train a day.


Notre Dame Football by Robert Tuchman

by Robert TuchmanThe option to travel from Chicago‘s Union Station to South Bend, IN for a Notre Dame Football game is enticing for more than one reason. Union Station’s roaring Twenties-style grandeur has made it a star in countless films & television shows, but its efficiency is to blame for making it a critical contributor to Chicago‘s transportation landscape since World War II.

After 10 years and $75 million worth of work, Union Station opened its doors in 1925. The 20,000-foot classic Beaux Arts style Great Hall is considered one of the greatest indoor spaces in the US and features 100-foot walls, a vaulted skylight, and connecting lobbies, staircases & balconies.

The food court is open 7 days a week from 5:30 am – midnight and boasts restaurants ranging from national chains to local favorites. Additional amenities include a newsstand, a flower shop, restrooms, ATMs, two bars and a game room. There are also public phones, an Amtrak Police office, and storage lockers with varying size and length of time options.

Should you choose to spend some time exploring Illinois before heading to South Bend, the transportation options at Union Station abound. MetraRail and Chicago Transit Authority buses depart right from the station and passes are available for purchase via vending machine. Subways, elevated trains, taxis, and intercity buses are within walking distance.

If you’re on foot, limited on time, or just looking to stay local, the Sears tower is less than 4 blocks east of the station. For a quick and satisfying lunch, you can walk to West Jackson Blvd to check out Giordino’s World Famous Stuffed Pizza or Lou Mitchells Restaurant & Bakery, a staple since 1923.

The South Bend station (about a 1.5 hour train ride from Chicago) has a baggage check service, enclosed waiting area, restrooms & payphones. A quick 15 minute taxi ride will have you to Notre Dame’s campus, where the adventure will undoubtedly continue. Please note that Notre Dame is in the Eastern Time zone, which is always one hour ahead of Chicago (Central) time.