Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by j1069
This week I will be taking a Metra from Waukegan to Ogilvie. I need to make an Amtrak Lincoln Service train from Union Station.

I've been inside both, but never with heavy bags and I never took Amtrak before.

I have a few questions, I wonder if someone could help me out.

First, upon arriving to Ogilvie, what would the best way to get to Union Station be? I know I could walk down Canal. I know I could take a cab. I just realized there's a Madison St Entrance for Union Station, but I don't know if that will take me to where I need to go.

Upon entering Union Station, where do I go to get to Amtrak. Who do I show my ticket to? Is there any searches like there would be on a plane, or do you just show the ticket and hop on the train like you would with Metra?

My memories of Union Station are pretty foggy.
  by EricL
Big, heavy bags aren't particularly well suited to Metra. Your choices are: plop em on a seat; plop em in the handicap/bicycle area; make a herculean attempt to squeeze em up into that upper level luggage rack. If you can help it, take an off-peak train, not a rush hour trip.

The most direct way to CUS (and best protected from the elements) is indeed to utilize the Madison St entrance. If you take that side corridor out of OTC thru 200 N Riverside, it's even better - then all you have to do is go across Madison at the riverwalk pedestrian crossing. The Madison stairs at CUS will not take you directly where you need to go, but you can just walk all the way down the platforms to get inside the concourse. From there, you just walk straight ahead through the folding glass doors, into the "main" area (ticket office, water fountain, car rental, etc). The entrance to the Amtrak boarding gates is on the left, between the Hertz desk and the Amtrak "information" desk.

If you really are schlepping a whole lot of stuff, the Madison stairs might not be a great idea to begin with, since their pitch is a bit steep. The alternative would be to go out the normal OTC exit and just walk a few blocks down Clinton. At Adams & Clinton is an easy entrance with just a few steps to traverse once inside the CUS building. If you really need a ramp, then go the extra block down to the entrance at Jackson & Clinton - there is one there. Either one of these entrances will put you in the Great Hall - just head towards the corridor cutting into the middle of it, and follow the iconic words "TO ALL TRAINS"...

If you already have your tickets, and are not checking any bags, then you do not need to go to the Amtrak ticket office at all - just proceed right to the boarding gate area. A station agent might ask to see your ticket, mostly just to see if you're in the correct line/area for the correct train. Baggage/person searches are pretty rare. Every so often they'll get the TSA in to set one up for one of the Milwaukee trains, but I've never seen em do it with any of the other trains.
  by j1069
I wouldn't consider my bags too heavy. Just a backpack with clothes and my laptop bag. Thanks for the info.
  by lstone19
j1069 wrote:I wouldn't consider my bags too heavy. Just a backpack with clothes and my laptop bag. Thanks for the info.
In that case, as mentioned above, use the Madison Street entrance. There are three sets of stairs taking you down to the Tk 5/7 platform, the 9/11 platform, and 13/15 platform. You'll walk the length of the platform and then enter the North Concourse. Hundreds of people do that every day (mostly to get to the South Concourse) so it will not look out of place. The Amtrak area is more or less straight-ahead. Slightly to the right from the 13/15 platform and to the left from the other two.