Illinois Zephyr Train: A Complete Rider Guide 

Amtrak’s Illinois Zephyr line runs daily between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois, stopping at the same stations as the Carl Sandburg train. There is WiFi on the trains, as well as coach and business class seating. If you enjoy trains, try visiting the Galesburg Railroad Museum.

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

Schedule Highlights

  • Trains arrive in Chicago around mid-morning.
  • Trains leave Quincy very early in the morning.
  • The travel time between Chicago and Quincy is approximately 4.5 hours.
  • The travel time between Chicago and Naperville is 30 minutes.
  • It takes just over 2.5 hours to travel from Chicago to Galesburg.

Visit Amtrak.com to view the most recent schedules and timetables.

Before You Ride

Before You Ride Illinois Zephyr Train

Booking your trip

Ticketing options:

The Illinois Zephyr offers several convenient ways to book your train journey:

  • Online: Amtrak’s website (https://www.amtrak.com/home) allows you to search for schedules, compare fares, and purchase tickets directly. You can choose your seats, print your e-tickets, or save them to your mobile device.
  • Phone: Call Amtrak’s toll-free number (1-800-USA-RAIL) to speak with a customer service representative. They can assist you with booking your trip, answer any questions you may have, and handle special requests.
  • Station: Tickets can also be purchased in person at the ticketing counter inside Chicago Union Station before your departure. This option is helpful for last-minute travel or if you prefer a face-to-face interaction.

Choosing your class

Coach Class Seat:

Coach class is available on Amtrak Illinois Zephyr trains and has wide, reclining seats with plenty of legroom, no middle seat option, at-seat trays, reading lamps, and power outlets. There are restrooms in each vehicle. Amtrak Guest Rewards customers who travel in Coach get 2 points per dollar spent.

Business Class Seat:

Enjoy the exclusive benefits of travelling in Business Class, a premium, enhanced experience available on the Amtrak Illinois Zephyr train. 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.

Additional Tips:

  • Booking your tickets in advance is recommended, especially during peak travel times.
  • Consider purchasing tickets online or by phone to take advantage of any available promotions or discounts.
  • When choosing your class, weigh your budget against the desired amenities and comfort level for your journey.

Planning your trip

Schedule and Estimated Travel Time:

The Illinois Zephyr operates two daily round-trip journeys between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois. You can find the most up-to-date schedules and real-time departure information on the Amtrak website (https://www.amtrak.com/home) or the Amtrak app. The estimated travel time for the entire trip is approximately 4 hours and 21 minutes.

Departing from Chicago Union Station:

All Illinois Zephyr trains depart from Chicago Union Station (225 S Canal St, Chicago, IL 60606). This historic station offers various amenities for passengers, including:

  • Waiting areas with comfortable seating
  • Restrooms and public showers
  • Restaurants and concession stands
  • Shops and newsstands
  • Baggage lockers (fees may apply)
  • Free Wi-Fi

Validating Your Ticket and Checking Baggage (if applicable):

Once you arrive at Chicago Union Station, locate the departure board to confirm your train platform. Here’s what to do before boarding:

  • Ticket Validation: For tickets purchased online or by phone, you may have already received e-tickets you can display on your mobile device. If you have a paper ticket, you should validate it at a designated kiosk in the station.
  • Baggage Check (optional): The Illinois Zephyr offers checked baggage service for an additional fee. Look for designated baggage check counters at the station. Allow ample time for checking your luggage.

Additional Tips:

  • Arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure to allow time for check-in, security screening (if applicable), and finding your platform.
  • Download the Amtrak app for real-time train tracking, boarding updates, and station information.

What to pack

Every travel packing list should start with your must-haves. and weather-appropriate clothing for your destination, but how do you maximise your suitcase and carry-on space for the unique experience of train travel? Whether you’re going for a day trip or an overnight adventure, there are a few train travel essentials to pack.

1. Entertainment: Train travel offers stunning views and a relaxing setting for reading, gaming, or catching up on favourite shows. It’s recommended to download electronic devices for onboard entertainment.

 2. Headphones & Earplugs: The train’s unique ASMR sounds are popular on YouTube, but some prefer silence. Bringing headphones or earplugs can help personalise train travel by reducing distractions and enhancing the aural experience.

3. Camera: Keep your camera handy during your train trip for stunning photo opportunities, as it’s a more photo-friendly option compared to other travel options, making your friends jealous.

4. Chargers & Adapters: Use the two outlets at every seat pair for multiple devices, and use a travel adapter with multiple USB ports for space-saving. Be cautious when crossing aisles with strangers.

5. Snacks & Drinks: Amtrak trains offer numerous dining options, but travellers should ensure their personal items are secured and have dietary restrictions. Carry your preferred food and beverages in your luggage or carry-on.

There is so much room to enjoy yourself, especially in a private room; here are some ideas for packing extra fun for your next Amtrak train trip. 

Onboard the Illinois Zephyr

Onboard the Illinois Zephyr

Seating Arrangements (Coach vs. Business Class):

The Illinois Zephyr offers two distinct seating options to cater to your travel preferences:

Coach Class:

  • Comfortable reclining seats with ample legroom for stretching out.
  • Individual reading lights for enjoying a book or magazine during your trip.
  • Power outlets at each seat to keep your electronic devices charged.
  • Overhead storage bins for storing carry-on luggage.
  • Spacious windows to enjoy the scenic views along the route.

Business Class:

  • Wider, more plush reclining seats with even greater legroom for ultimate comfort.
  • Complimentary beverages (coffee, tea, soft drinks) served throughout your journey.
  • Access to a dedicated Business Class car with a quieter atmosphere for a more relaxing experience.
  • Select Business Class tickets may include access to the Metropolitan Lounge at Chicago Union Station, offering comfortable seating, refreshments, and work areas before your departure.

Onboard Services:

The Illinois Zephyr provides several amenities to enhance your onboard experience:

  • Wi-Fi Availability: Limited Wi-Fi is available on most Illinois Zephyr trains. While the connection may not be suitable for streaming, it allows you to check emails, browse the web, or use social media during your trip.
  • Cafe Offerings: A cafe car is located onboard, offering a selection of food and beverages for purchase. You can find hot and cold drinks, snacks, and light meals to satisfy your hunger or thirst.
  • Restrooms: Restrooms are conveniently located throughout the train for passenger use. All restrooms are equipped with baby changing stations.
  • Accessibility Features (if applicable): The Illinois Zephyr is committed to providing accessible travel for all passengers. Amtrak offers designated accessible coach seating with wider aisles and restrooms equipped with grab bars and accessible features. When booking your ticket, be sure to inquire about available accessible options if needed.

Additional Tips:

  • For the most comfortable seating experience, consider booking your tickets in advance, especially if you have a preference for window seats or extra legroom.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your trip. You can refill it with water from the cafe car or restrooms.
  • Download movies, books, or games to your electronic device for entertainment during your journey, especially if Wi-Fi connectivity is limited.

Route overview: Major stops and stations

Popular Stops

  • Chicago
  • Naperville
  • Galesburg
  • Quincy

Stations

Amtrak Illinois Zephyr Routes & Network

Amtrak Illinois Zephyr Routes & Network

Amtrak Illinois Zephyr’s train network includes 55 routes that connect 10 cities and serve 10 stations. On average, Amtrak Illinois Zephyr makes 17 train trips per day. The top cities to which Amtrak Illinois Zephyr provides the most daily train service are Naperville and Macomb.

TOP CITIES SERVED BY AMTRAK ILLINOIS ZEPHYR

CityRouteEarliest trainLatest train
Chicago134:12 pm7:24 pm
Macomb124:12 pm6:43 am
Galesburg94:12 pm6:08 am
Quincy163:55 am6:43 am
Mendota63:55 am4:54 am
Kewanee105:37 pm4:14 am
Princeton184:12 pm4:14 am
Naperville74:12 pm4:14 am
Plano55:01 pm3:55 am

Most popular Amtrak Illinois Zephyr routes

The train from Naperville to Macomb is Amtrak Illinois Zephyr’s most popular route. Trips from Galesburg to Kewanee and Plano to Chicago are also highly popular.

TOP AMTRAK ILLINOIS ZEPHYR ROUTES

RouteDaily TripsDurationPrice
Naperville to Macomb12h 54m$21
Galesburg to Kewanee10h 29m$5
Plano to Chicago11h 9m$9
Chicago to Kewanee12h 12m$15
Princeton to Chicago12h 2m$14
Chicago to Mendota11h 26m$9
Quincy to Chicago14h 21m$20
Galesburg to Chicago12h 56m$18
Chicago to Macomb13h 29m$16

Attractions Along the Route

  • Chicago Loop
  • Willis Tower
  • Downtown Naperville
  • DuPage Children’s Museum
  • Naperville Riverwalk
  • Mendota Museum
  • Union Depot Railroad Museum
  • Kewanee Historical Society
  • Downtown Galesburg
  • Galesburg Railroad Museum
  • Discovery Depot Children’s Museum

Upon Arrival in Quincy

Claiming Your Baggage:

If you checked baggage on your trip, here’s how to retrieve it upon arrival at Quincy station:

  • Locate the baggage claim area, which will be clearly marked with signage.
  • Show your baggage claim ticket to the baggage service agent.
  • They will verify your identification and retrieve your luggage.

Getting Around Quincy:

Quincy offers several options for getting around after your train journey:

  • Taxis: Taxis are readily available outside the Quincy Amtrak station. You can hail one upon arrival or inquire with station personnel about taxi service providers.
  • Public Transportation: Quincy operates a public bus system, “Quincy Transit Lines” (QTL). Bus stop information might be available at the station, or you can download the QTL app for real-time bus tracking and route planning.

Additional Tips:

  • Children: Discounted lap tickets for toddlers, family-friendly amenities onboard (check age restrictions).
  • Pets: Allowed on most routes with reservations and fees (check pet policy for details).
  • Bikes/Sports Equipment: May be allowed with reservations and fees (check website for restrictions).
  • Phone Charging: Power outlets at each seat (Coach & Business Class).
  • Cell Service: This may vary depending on carrier and location (limited service in rural areas).
  • Pack Light: Overhead bins for Coach Class, luggage space varies in Business Class.
  • Dress Comfortably: Consider weather conditions at your destination.
  • Snacks & Drinks: Pack extras if needed (dietary restrictions or budget).
  • Amtrak App: Download for real-time info, manage reservations, and access e-tickets.

FAQs

Do Amtrak Illinois Zephyr trains have WiFi?

Yes, Amtrak Illinois Zephyr provides WiFi on its trains. Although most Amtrak Illinois Zephyr flights will have WiFi as stated, certain trains may not have it, and onboard WiFi may lose connection in rural regions. We urge that you bring a book or download a movie simply to be safe. Amtrak Illinois Zephyr WiFi is generally best utilized for browsing the web, reading emails, and chatting with friends; don’t expect to binge-watch your favorite show.

Are there power outlets or USB plugs on the train?

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

What is Amtrak Illinois Zephyr’s schedule?

Amtrak Illinois Zephyr typically has 17 scheduled train rides per day. However, the exact departure and arrival hours vary according to 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 Illinois Zephyr does not offer 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 Illinois Zephyr requires you to present your ID to an agent before boarding the train. Make sure you have government-issued identification that meets the carrier’s requirements. Alternative IDs, such as a college ID, will not work.

Are there bathrooms on Amtrak Illinois Zephyr trains?

Yes, there are restrooms aboard Amtrak Illinois Zephyr 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 Illinois Zephyr offers snacks 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 Illinois Zephyr ticket?

Amtrak Illinois Zephyr does not require a paper ticket for boarding 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 Illinois Zephyr offer any premium features like extra legroom or movies?

Amtrak Illinois Zephyr goes above and beyond to provide its passengers with top-notch amenities.
Do you find yourself squished in a regular seat, or do you prefer having more room to spread out? You’re in luck, because Amtrak Illinois Zephyr offers 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.

Contact Information

Leave a Comment