About Connecting in Chicago.

I’m afraid I caused some anxiety with an earlier post stressing that Amtrak travelers should avoid trying to make connections between two long-distance trains. I’ve had a couple of questions from people wanting clarification on Amtrak’s policy when connections are missed.
I think the most honest answer is that there really is no hard and fast rule. Amtrak personnel try to deal with every situation in the most practical way … and they’re like snowflakes—no two exactly alike. Here’s an actual situation from just a few days ago that illustrates how solving one problem often leads only to a bigger problem
The California Zephyr, coming from the Bay Area, is scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 2:50 in the afternoon. The Southwest Chief, coming from Los Angeles, is scheduled to arrive less than a half hour later, at 3:15 p.m. But both trains are running about six hours late and won’t actually arrive until some time after 9:00 p.m.

That’s already a big problem for a lot of people, but it gets worse. There is a combined total of 130 passengers on those two trains who are supposed to connect with the Capitol Limited (photo), but—uh-oh—its scheduled departure time out of Chicago for points east is 6:40 p.m.
A decision had to be made and somebody at Amtrak, nestled in between a rock and a hard place, decided to hold the Capitol Limited (Chicago to Washington) until after the two western trains have arrived so that all those incoming passengers could make their connections. Probably the right call under the circumstances and good news for all those people. Not-so-good news for passengers traveling east on the Capitol Limited, though. That train finally left Chicago 3 hours 17 minutes late at about 10:00 p.m. But hours out of its “slot” and, as a consequence, it had to slug it out with all those CSX freight trains with their cargos of toaster ovens made in China.
And so, as reported by a regular reader of this site who was actually on board, The Capitol Limited arrived at Washington eight hours late.
NEXT TIME—First hand revueoff the new “contemporary” food served on board the Capital Limited