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YOUR STORIES: AMTRAK TRIP FOR A CHRISTMAS CONCERT IN CHICAGO

My husband, Steve, and I were invited by our granddaughter to a Christmas Concert in Chicago, IL on December 3, 2022. Since we are senior citizens, we felt uncomfortable driving our car to Chicago and spending a night there. So, we decided to check with Amtrak to see if there was a train we could take for the day.


Since we live in Dayton, OH, we looked at the possibility of taking an Amtrak train from Toledo, OH to Chicago, IL. The Lake Shore Limited travels across the top part of Ohio near Lake Erie. I decided to google map the station in Toledo and review pictures of the station. It was large, and I wasn’t sure about the parking and possible charges. So, I decided to look at alternative stations along the train route.


I chose a small station in Waterloo, IN. It wasn’t very far from Dayton, OH; only about a 3-hour drive. Plus, the boarding hour was more accommodating. We could board at 7:51 am (EST) rather than 6:33 am (EST) in Toledo. So, I secured our tickets from the Amtrak website.


We stayed at a Sure Stay Motel in Auburn, IN the Friday night prior to our departure on Saturday. Auburn is only about a 15-minute drive to Waterloo. The parking lot at the Amtrak station is small but very accommodating. We felt our car would be safe for the day. The town has refurbished the old train station and it was delightful.


The train was on time, and we boarded. We were amazed of the number of people on this train. About 15 people boarded at Waterloo. The trip to Chicago was very nice and restful. My husband and I enjoyed it.


We arrived in Chicago at 10:12 am (Central Time). The Chicago train depot is huge! We decided to check with Amtrak personnel concerning our trip back that evening. Where was the Gate and Track number for the train we needed? They were very helpful and told us where the Gate was that we needed. We investigated to make sure we knew where it was and what street entrance we needed to get to the Gate easily.


We took a Lyft ride to our granddaughter’s college and spent a delightful day with her and enjoyed hearing her sing in the choir that evening. After the concert, we called a Lyft ride to take us back to the Amtrak station.


There were many people that boarded our train, Lake Shore Limited, which would make stops in Indiana, Ohio, and New York State before splitting in Albany where some of the cars would travel to New York City and some to Boston. The train left on time at 9:30 pm (Central Time). The trip again was very pleasant; the conductors were very friendly. Of course, it was dark outside so we didn’t see much, so sleep was nice even in coach seats.


We were awakened by the conductor about 15 minutes prior to arriving at the Waterloo station. However, the train engine stopped working a mile and a half from the station at 1:30 am (EST), the scheduled arrival time. The conductor apologized to all the passengers as our train was not able to move. Amtrak had been notified of the emergency. We sat 2 ½ hours beyond our arrival time before Amtrak secured help from a Northwestern freight engine which hauled us to our station. We disembarked with a few other passengers at our station.


I truly felt sorry for the passengers left on the train that continued on to their destinations. I also felt sorry for the Amtrak conductors and engineers that worked diligently to keep everyone calm and informed concerning the emergency. They truly deserve high praises and credit for their work.