Friday, November 03, 2006

Carl Sandburg Arrives in Quincy

By Kelly Wilson
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Mark and Julie Krogman of Quincy smiled broadly as they walked off Amtrak's new Carl Sandburg train Monday.
They were among the two dozen passengers on the train's inaugural run from Chicago to Quincy, and they didn't even mind that the train arrived in Quincy more than an hour late.
"It was great," Julie Krogman said.
The Krogmans, traveling with their two young daughters, spent the weekend in Chicago and were excited they could take advantage of new scheduling options now that a second daily train between Chicago and Quincy is in service.
"It was nice because we were able to stay that extra night (in Chicago)," Julie Krogman said. "They have school tomorrow, and we didn't want to come back late."
Before Monday, the daily Zephyr was the only option for train travel between Quincy and Chicago. That train departs Quincy at 6:12 a.m. and arrives in Chicago at 10:30 a.m., and departs Chicago at 5:55 p.m. and arrives in Quincy at 10:10 p.m.
The Carl Sandburg departs Chicago at 8 a.m. and arrives in Quincy at 12:15 p.m., and then leaves Quincy at 5:30 p.m. and arrives in Chicago at 9:48 p.m.
Passengers arriving at Quincy's Amtrak station Monday — at about 1:30 p.m. instead of the scheduled 12:15 p.m. — were greeted by local dignitaries, including Quincy Mayor John Spring.
"This gives a person four options, and they can mix and match," Spring said, adding that the second train will benefit business people, tourists, sports teams, and college students and faculty all along the route.
"For businesspeople, it will be a huge, huge plus," he said.
Spring commends the various federal, state and local officials who played a role in getting the second train between Quincy and Chicago.
"They have worked and dedicated themselves to making this possible," he said.
Because of high ridership demands, Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the legislature this year increased the state's annual subsidy for Amtrak to $24 million. The subsidy had previously been $12.1 million and had partly covered the costs of service along routes to Quincy and other downstate locations. The increased subsidy will cover the cost of extra trains to Quincy, Carbondale and St. Louis.
"It's overdue," said passenger James Christen of the second daily train between Chicago and Quincy. "It gives people greater flexibility, and I think there will be more riders overall. Ridership was pretty good for the first day."
Christen, a former Quincyan who now lives in Michigan, rode the Carl Sandburg from Chicago to Quincy and back Monday.
"I came to be part of history today," he said. "I wanted to be part of the inaugural train service."
Sonl Patel, a Quincy University student from Chicago, wasn't as happy as most passengers. Because the train was late, she missed a test in a class.
"I have to drop out of a class because of this train," she said. "And I lost my ride. So now I have to take a cab."
Spring admits "there will be a few bugs they have to work out," but he can't say enough about how beneficial the Carl Sandburg will be for area travelers.
"It opens up a whole new world to the Tri-State area and certainly Quincy," he said.


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