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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student


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Dear Amtrak, where is my train?: Why Amtrak is always late, what you can do about it

The Amtrack station at Galesburg, IL. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

In a report published by Amtrak in Dec. 2023, the train route that takes Knox students to Chicago in the afternoon is one of the most delayed trains in the nation.

The train in question, the California Zephyr has an on-time performance of only 33%.

On the other hand, The City of New Orleans Route, which takes passengers from Chicago to New Orleans, is the most punctual route, with passengers arriving on time 75% of the time.

The route ran 368 times in the year 2023 and profited 4.3 million dollars, which puts it in the middle spectrum of all the routes in the country, with the most profitable route being the Pacific Surfliner in Southern California.

According to the official Amtrak Website, the biggest reason for the delay of Amtrak is freight train interference. Passenger trains and freight trains share the same rail, with the freight trains taking priority. It is the most frequent cause for all the amtrak delays. In the year 2023, it delayed passengers across the United States a total of 900,000 minutes, or two years of time cumulatively.

Other causes also include weather, maintenance, and obstructions, but those are much less significant causes compared to the freight issue.

Looking at the overall punctuality of  the two routes that take students from Galesburg to Chicago, the Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr are not bad performers, with an on-time rate of 80% in 2023. This met the on-time standard set by Amtrak, and only 10 state supported trains nationwide have met this criteria.

The reason for this is because the two routes have an impressive rate of punctuality in the morning, which offsets the delays in the afternoons, so if you are taking the train, aim for one in the morning.

Also, don’t take the train to get here from California, try to fly if you can.

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Yuchen Wang
Yuchen Wang, Radio Editor
Yuchen Wang '25 (he/him) is the radio editor at TKS. He is a creative writing major and a computer science minor. In his free time, he likes to listen to classical music and read books.

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