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Riding the rails out of Chicago will not only get easier, but a whole lot faster thanks to a plan to run a high-speed rail link between the Midwestern metropolis and the Gateway to the West, St. Louis. Just last week, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn allotted a whopping $102 million from the state's budget for improvement of the rail corridor between the two cities.
The plan for the sped-up Amtrak line will allow higher speed trains to travel up to 110 mph between St. Louis and Dwight (about 75 minutes from Chicago). The final leg to Chicago will also be ready to go fast in 2017.
If you're going to be in Philly this weekend and are looking for something fun to take the kids to (or you just happen to really love train stations), then here's something to add to the ol' itinerary. 30th Street Station, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of 200 stations celebrating National Train Day this Saturday May 11th.
The theme of this year's event, which will be taking place simultaneously in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington DC (just to name a few), is "trains matter." Well, duh. We could've told you that!
Still, the event offers Amtrak an opportunity to bask in its own glory for a brief moment, and celebrate the 31.2 million passengers who used the national rail service in 2012.
Last year, Philly's 30th Street Station hosted a day-long event with model train displays, giveaways, and culinary demonstrations of meals served in Amtrak dining cars—so you can expect much of the same this year. Additionally, the station will be offering tours of private luxury railcars, in case you've never been in one of those before.
Regardless, 30th Street Station is a must-see train station, and one of our favorites that we've traveled through. Not only is it the second most active station in the entire US, its gorgeous main terminal is on par with that of Grand Central, in terms of soaring ceilings, giant windows, and the pleasant hum of commuters shuffling by all day long. There's even a KAWS statue at one end of the terminal!
Movie Travel / Harry Potter Travel / London Travel / Train Stations / Train Travel / Shopping Travel / → All Tags
Platform 9 3/4 at London's King's Cross stationis best known as the fictional place where young wizards catch the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter books and films. For years, fans of the books and movies have gone to pose with only a sign, but now the station and platform has its very own Harry Potter store.
The store was created by Jonathan Sands, the founder of London Film Museum, who said in a statement, "King’s Cross Station has recently undergone the most amazing re-development and we are delighted to be a part of it thanks to Network Rail.”
Canada Travel / Train Travel / VIA Rail Canada / Winter Travel / Train Stations / Vancouver Travel / → All Tags
Above: A scheduled stop in Blue River.
We already showed you where we slept and what we ate on the VIA Rail Canada journey from Vancouver to Jasper, but we still have so much more to show you. (Yes, we're clearly totally sold on train travel.)
To round out our coverage of the trip, we put together a gallery of highlightsa grab bag of views, glimpses of other parts of the train, and shots from Vancouver's Pacific Central Station.
Train Travel / Portland Travel / Amtrak / PDX / Train Stations / Oregon Travel / Train Stations That Still Got It / → All Tags
In yet another argument for improving the rail network of the USA, we turn to the impressive Union Station in the Chinatown section of Portland, Oregon. Even if you aren't arriving by the Amtrak Cascades, Coast Starlight or Empire Builder trains and you flew in to this here town, the station is worth a visit for its historical and architectural significance (not to mention that sweet Romanesque clock tower).
As you can see in the above image, the stations is undergoing something of a refurbishment. Sadly, this won't be to add more train servicesoh how we'd love to see some hi-speed trains making stops herebut to add housing in places where railroad track used to be.
Urban blog Infrastructurist just published a heartbreaking post bemoaning 11 gorgeous American train stations that have been demolished. One that's thankfully been spared: downtown Los Angeles's Union Station, routinely referred to as "The Last of the Great Railway Stations."
Opening in 1939 and costing $11 million, the station quickly became a central destination for the West Coast's passenger trains. It was not uncommon during the 1930s and 40s for 7,000 passengers a day to crowd into the station, which still provides the hub for Greater LA's many rail services. Even if you're not a passenger it's an architectural treasure worth incorporating into your Los Angeles tour.
Train Travel / Trains / Train Stations / Amtrak / → All Tags
Train travel in the United States is not without its challenges, but Washington D.C.'s Union Station is one of the success stories. While other once-grand railroad stations were destroyed and rebuilt in modern, uninspiring styles (New York's Penn Station comes to mind), Union Station has retained the elegant glamor it had when it first opened 100 years ago.
To celebrate its centennial, the station is rolling out special exhibits this weekend (October 4-5, 2008) that hearken back to the golden days of the American railroad industry. Visitors will be able to walk through historic locomotives and rail cars, check out the latest and greatest Amtrak equipment, and get a taste of what used to be the nation's main method of transit.
Of course, Union Station is unique among Amtrak stations around the country, as it provides a headquarters for the company as well as an upscale shopping mall. A $160 million renovation in 1988 restored it to its original 1908 grandeur, transforming it from a decaying relic of a nearly-obsolete form of transport to one of the city's top tourist destinations. So if you're in the District this weekend, drop by to see what a century of railroad history looks like. Who knows, with gyrating gas prices and endless airline hassles, this might just be the beginning of a renaissance in North American train travel.
[Photo: AP via USA Today]
· Washington, D.C.'s Union Station Celebrates 100 Years of Train Travel [USA Today]
· Union Station [Official Site]
· Train Travel Coverage [Jaunted]