Amtrak Adds One Seat Service to Chicago From Sedalia
It's always been possible to go to Chicago from Sedalia, Warrensburg or any stops along Amtrak's Missouri River Runner route, however, it required changing trains in St. Louis along with a lengthy layover. Not anymore, now you hop on the train and ride all the way to Chicago.
According to the Rail Passengers website, Lincoln Service trains 303 and 304 and Missouri River Runner trains 313 and 314 have been combined to offer service between Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City as trains 318 and 319. Additionally, passengers will not have to change trains or deal with a layover in St. Louis. Aside from making the trip a one-seat ride, it modestly improves travel time for those traveling beyond St. Louis.
Previously when I looked at the travel time between Chicago and Sedalia/Warrensburg it was around a twelve-hour trip, with a long layover in St. Louis. For someone who enjoys train travel like myself, it wasn't a deal-breaker. However, the arrival time in Chicago wasn't all that attractive. Not to mention, for me, not having my own wheels in Chicago tended to tip the scales in favor of driving.
Yet a ten-hour trip, especially with gas costing me $45 a tank, and at least $180 for traveling round trip between Chicago and Warrensburg along with avoiding Interstate 70 traffic around St. Louis, and Interstate 55 traffic between Joliet and Chicago creates a much stronger case for train travel. At least if my Mom is willing to lend me her wheels to get out and visit friends during my visit.
The arrival time in Chicago is also somewhat better. The train gets into Chicago at about 8:30 in the evening. Obviously, somewhat late for anyone to do anything other than check into their hotel for the evening. But it's still early enough to get picked up in Chicago by family or friends. Or for those like me, who have family in the Western Suburbs, hop on a Metra train to the suburbs. (For me, I could actually get off the Missouri River Runner a stop or two before Chicago and have family pick me up there.)
The service change is really a huge win for those looking to spend a long weekend or vacation in Chicago and who don't want to hassle with driving. And don't get me started on parking. That's easily a $20-$40 dollars a day if you're staying downtown or in any of the areas adjacent to downtown visitors frequent.
Metra, Chicago's commuter rail service along with Chicago's bus service and L trains are fairly easy to access from Union Station and the downtown area as well. So depending on what you want to do and where you want to go, you may not need a car.
That said if you're planning on spending significant time in the Chicago suburbs or doing a lot of things that take you outside of the City, having your own wheels may still be the more attractive option. Additionally, if you want to time your trip to do things in Chicago on your arrival date like going to a sporting event or a concert, or you're just really trying to do a lot in a short amount of time, driving yourself may be the better option.