Amtrak ILLINI Train: A complete Rider Guide (Chicago – Carbondale)

Illini Amtrak trains travel between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois. Saluki trains stop at some of the same stations and offer more transportation options.

This is not Amtrak’s official website and is not affiliated with Amtrak; this is just for the reader’s guide.

Schedule Highlights

  • Trains depart Carbondale in the late afternoon.
  • Trains leave Chicago late afternoon.
  • The travel time between Chicago and Champaign-Urbana is 2.5 hours.
  • The travel time between Chicago and Carbondale is approximately 5.5 hours.

Visit to view the most recent schedules and timetables.

Before You Ride

Ticketing and Reservations:

Amtrak ILLINI Train Ticketing and Reservations

How to Purchase Tickets:

  • Online: Amtrak offers the easiest and quickest way to purchase tickets through their website []. You can search for schedules, compare fares, and book your trip directly.
  • Stations: Tickets can also be purchased at ticket windows located in Amtrak stations. Be aware that stations may have limited hours of operation, so plan accordingly.
  • Phone: Amtrak allows you to purchase tickets by calling their customer service line at 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

Reservation Options:

  • Reservations are recommended for Illini service, especially during peak travel times or if you require a specific seat (for example, a window seat). Although reservations are not always mandatory, they guarantee your place on the train.
  • You can make reservations at the same time you purchase your ticket through any of the methods mentioned above.

Special Fares and Discounts:

Amtrak offers a variety of discounts to make train travel more affordable:

  • Senior Discount: Passengers 65 and older can receive a 10% discount on most fares.
  • Student Discount: Amtrak offers a discounted rate for students with a valid ID.
  • Group Discounts: Groups of 10 or more passengers may be eligible for special fares. Be sure to check the Amtrak website [] for current discount details and any additional booking requirements.

Baggage and Check-in:

Allowed Baggage Size and Weight Limits:

The Illini train allows passengers to bring both carry-on and checked baggage. Here’s a breakdown of the limitations:

  • Carry-on: Each passenger can bring:
    • You can bring one personal item weighing 25 pounds (12 kg) and measuring 14 x 11 x 7 inches, as well as two carry-on items weighing 50 pounds (23 kg) and measuring 28 x 22 x 14 inches each (Pacific Surfliner allows up to 28 x 22 x 11 inches).
    • Make sure each of your bags has a tag with your name and address on the outside.
  • Checked Baggage: Checked baggage allows for larger items that won’t fit comfortably in the overhead bins or under the seat. The Illini service generally follows Amtrak’s standard checked baggage policy:
    • Each passenger can check up to two bags for free.
    • Each checked bag must not exceed 50 lbs (23 kg) in weight and 80 linear inches (length + width + height) in total dimensions.

Fees for Checked Baggage:

  • If you exceed the free baggage allowance of two checked bags, there will be additional fees associated with each extra checked item. It’s recommended to consult the latest Amtrak baggage fees information online or by contacting Amtrak customer service for the most current rates.

Check-in Process and Deadlines:

  • To ensure a smooth boarding experience, arriving at the station well in advance is crucial. Amtrak typically recommends arriving at the station at least 45 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time.
  • The check-in process involves showing your valid ticket or reservation confirmation, along with a photo ID, at the designated check-in area at the station.
  • At check-in, you will be issued baggage claim tags for any checked luggage. Be sure to securely attach these tags to your checked bags before proceeding to your designated boarding platform.

Amtrak Guest Rewards (if applicable):

Earning and Redeeming Rewards:

The Illini service is part of Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program, which lets you accumulate points for your trip and use them for future train tickets, upgrades, and other travel advantages.

Here’s a quick rundown of the program’s advantages for Illini riders:

  • Earn Points: You can earn points on every Amtrak trip you take, including the Illini service. The number of points awarded depends on the fare you pay and the type of service you choose (coach or Business Class).
  • Redeem Points: Accumulated points can be redeemed for future Amtrak travel on various routes, including the Illini. You can also use points for upgrades to Business Class on the Illini, allowing you to enjoy more spacious seating and additional amenities.
  • Tier Status: Frequent Amtrak travelers can qualify for different tiers within the Guest Rewards program. Higher tiers offer additional benefits such as bonus points on travel, priority boarding, and access to airport lounges on connecting trips.

Consider enrolling in Amtrak Guest Rewards if:

  • You travel frequently on Amtrak, including the Illini service.
  • You plan to take future Amtrak trips beyond the Illini route.
  • You’d like to enjoy potential upgrades and travel perks.

Note: Be sure to check the latest Amtrak Guest Rewards program details and benefits on the Amtrak website ( as program specifics may change.

Your Trip on the Illini

Boarding the Train:

Amtrak ILLINI Train Boarding

Location of Boarding Platforms: Boarding platform locations for your Illini train will be clearly displayed on station signage and announced over the station public address system. You can also check with station personnel or kiosks for platform information.

Tips for Early Arrival and Navigating Stations:

  • As mentioned earlier, arrive at the station at least 45 minutes before departure. This allows ample time to navigate the station, check in luggage (if applicable), and board the train without stress.
  • Familiarize yourself with the station layout beforehand (station maps are often available online).
  • Look for signs directing you to the designated boarding area for your train.
  • If you require assistance with luggage or have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask station personnel for help.

Finding Your Assigned Car and Seat:

  • Your boarding pass or e-ticket will clearly indicate your assigned car number and seat number.
  • Look for car number signs along the side of the train to locate your specific car.
  • Once you find your car, locate your designated seat and stow any carry-on luggage securely in the overhead bins or under the seat.

Amenities on Board:

Seating options (coach, business class)

Coach Class: Coach class is available on the Amtrak ILLINI train and includes wide, reclining seats with plenty of legroom, no middle seat option, and at-seat trays, reading lights, and power outlets. There are restrooms in each car. Amtrak Guest Rewards customers who travel in Coach earn 2 points per dollar spent. Coach class is available on all Amtrak trains and includes wide, reclining seats with plenty of legroom, no middle seat option, at-seat trays, reading lights, and electric outlets. There are restrooms in each car. Amtrak Guest Rewards customers who travel in Coach earn 2 points per dollar spent.

Business Class: Enjoy the exclusive benefits of traveling in Business Class, a premium, enhanced experience available on most corridor services throughout the Amtrak system. Specific features vary by route, but Business Class includes extra legroom, a wide and comfortable seat, and a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage (not available in Acela Business Class). Seat selection is available on many routes in the Northeast, making boarding easier and eliminating the guesswork of finding a seat. Additionally, Business Class customers receive a 25% bonus on Amtrak Guest Rewards points.

Availability of restrooms, concessions, and cafe car

Restroom: Restrooms are available on the Allini train for passengers’ convenience. Their location will vary depending on the train configuration, but they are usually located at the end of each car.

Cafe Service: Amtrak’s ILLINI Train provides cafe service, with a variety of meals, snacks, and beverages for sale. Customers of all service levels are welcome to visit the Cafe, which is open from early morning to late night.

Wi-Fi access (if available) and entertainment options

To keep our passengers connected while traveling, Amtrak provides basic WiFi service in select stations and trains across the country. Stay productive or simply relax and enjoy the journey to your destination. During your travels, you may encounter two types of WiFi services:

Amtrak WiFi: This free WiFi service allows for general web browsing activities. Due to limited bandwidth onboard the trains, our WiFi does not support high-bandwidth activities such as music streaming, video streaming, or large file downloads.

Other Wireless Networks: Because Amtrak does not operate these networks, we ask that you refer to the operating carrier’s information on how to connect, usage restrictions, and terms of service while on these trains.

Traveling with Children:

Amenities for Children (if any): While the Illini train itself may not have dedicated play areas for children, some stations may offer play areas or activity centers to keep children occupied before boarding.

Tips for Keeping Children Entertained During the Trip: Here are some ideas to keep young travelers entertained on the train:

  • Pack a variety of travel-friendly toys, games, and books to keep them occupied.
  • Download movies or shows for them to watch on tablets or smartphones beforehand.
  • Bring along coloring books, travel journals, or craft supplies for creative activities.
  • Encourage them to look out the window and point out interesting landmarks or scenery.
  • Pack snacks and drinks to keep them happy and avoid meltdowns.
  • Take breaks to walk up and down the aisle and stretch their legs (being mindful of other passengers).

Stations and Stops

Amtrak ILLINI Train Stations and Stops

Here’s a List of all stations along the route (Chicago to Carbondale):

Amtrak Illini Service Routes & Network

Illini Service’s train network includes 50 routes that connect 11 cities and serve 11 stations. Amtrak Illini Service operates approximately 23 train trips per day. Champaign and Carbondale are the top cities served by Amtrak Illini Service, with the most daily train service. 


CityRouteEarliest trainLatest train
Champaign112:05 am4:19 am
Chicago152:15 am6:14 am
Carbondale102:05 am7:07 am
Mattoon142:05 am4:36 am
Homewood62:05 am5:51 am
Effingham152:05 am4:36 am
Kankakee42:05 am5:08 am
Centralia152:05 am4:36 am
Rantoul22:05 am5:08 am

Most popular Amtrak Illini Service routes

The most popular route for Amtrak Illini Service is the train from Champaign to Carbondale. Trips from Chicago to Champaign and Chicago to Carbondale are also extremely popular. 


RouteDaily TripsDurationPrice
Champaign to Carbondale12h 59m$10
Chicago to Champaign12h 31m$10
Chicago to Carbondale15h 30m$24
Chicago to Mattoon13h 18m$13
Chicago to Effingham13h 42m$16
Champaign to Homewood11h 47m$8
Chicago to Kankakee11h 10m$4
Chicago to Rantoul12h 3m$12
Champaign to Mattoon10h 47m$4

Arrival and Getting Around

  • Disembarking: Listen for announcements, follow signs to exits, and grab your belongings. Wait for checked luggage if applicable.
  • Getting Around: Choose your ride:
    • Taxis
    • Ridesharing apps (Uber, Lyft)
    • Public transportation (check schedules beforehand)
    • Shuttles (if available)
    • Pre-arranged pick-up
  • Plan Ahead: Consider time, destination, group size, and budget for a smooth exit.


Do Amtrak Illini Service trains have WiFi?

Yes, Amtrak Illini Service provides WiFi on its trains. Although most Amtrak Illini Service trips will have WiFi as advertised, some trains may not have it, and onboard WiFi may lose connection in rural areas. We recommend that you bring a book or download a movie just to be safe. Amtrak Illini Service WiFi is generally best used for surfing the web, checking emails, and chatting with friends; don’t rely on it to binge watch your favorite show.

Are there power outlets or USB plugs on the train?

Yes, there are power outlets on the Amtrak Illini Service trains. You can usually find one or two outlets per row of seats, so be a considerate traveler and check to see if your seat neighbor wants to charge their devices as well. The onboard power outlets allow you to charge both a computer and USB devices using a USB power adapter, which is typically included with most phones and tablets.
Because Amtrak Illini Service may occasionally use replacement train vehicles, not all trips are guaranteed to have power outlets. We recommend bringing a power bank to charge your phone for all trips longer than 2 hours, just in case.

What is Amtrak Illini Service’s schedule?

On an average day, Amtrak Illini Service operates 23 train trips. However, the exact departure and arrival hours vary according on the day and route. To find the exact timetable for your journey, utilize the search function on this page.

Can you pick up will-call tickets at the station?

No, Amtrak Illini Service does not provide will-call tickets. Purchase your tickets online and ensure that you have everything you need to board before arriving at the station.

Do you need an ID to get on the train?

Yes, Amtrak Illini Service asks you to provide your ID to a representative before boarding the train. Make sure you have government-issued identification that matches the carrier’s standards. Alternative IDs, such as a college ID, will not work.

Are there bathrooms on Amtrak Illini Service trains?

Yes, there are restrooms aboard Amtrak Illini Service trains. The bathrooms are rather basic, with a toilet, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. Most restrooms do not have running water. Please use caution and hold on to a rail while using a restroom on a moving vehicle.

Are meals or beverages available?

Amtrak Illini Service offers food to keep you satisfied during your journey. Make sure to have a credit card and some cash in case you get hungry.

Do you have to print your Amtrak Illini Service ticket?

Amtrak Illini Service does not require a paper ticket to board the train. Instead, when you make your reservation, you will receive an eTicket via email. You can show the ticketing agent this eTicket on your smartphone as you board.

Does Amtrak Illini Service offer any premium features like extra legroom or movies?

Amtrak Illini Service goes above and beyond for its customers by providing premium features.
Do you find yourself squished in a regular seat, or do you prefer having more room to spread out? You’re in luck, as Amtrak Illini Service provides extra legroom seating. Because there is no standard for what extra legroom is, the extra space you receive may differ between train lines, but having extra is always beneficial.

Additional Resources

Amtrak Illini Service: Find schedules, fares, and details specific to the Illini train (

Guest Rewards for Amtrak (optional): Learn about the program’s benefits and how to enroll for points and rewards (

Amtrak Customer Service: Need help? Contact Amtrak by phone at 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) or visit their website for online support options (

Major Station Websites: Many stations along the Illini route offer information on station amenities, ground transportation options, and local attractions. Here are a few examples:

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