American Royal Zephyr

American Royal Zephyr

The American Royal Zephyr was a streamlined passenger train service operated by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad between Chicago and Kansas City. This CB&Q Zephyr was named for The American Royal, one of Kansas City’s premier fall events, one of the Midwest’s largest and oldest livestock exhibitions and professional rodeos, prestigious horse shows and is home of the National Championship Saddlebred horse competition.

While a few less successful streamliners were discontinued prior to 1956, most of these trains were discontinued between 1956 and 1971. The formation of Amtrak in 1971, allowed many of the remaining trains to be discontinued, while retaining those trains with most promise. And now, Amtrak actually carries more passengers with fewer trains, than were carried by the individual railroads prior to 1971.

The American Royal Zephyr (CB&Q No. 56 northeast bound to Chicago and CB&Q No. 55 southwest bound for Kansas City) was discontinued in 1971. Amtrak selected the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway's former Super Chief route (which crosses the Mississippi River at Fort Madison, Iowa) in 1971 for service between Chicago and Kansas City on its Southwest Chief.

The state of Illinois intervened in 1971 at the request of residents of western Illinois, Quincy University, and Western Illinois University. It was a rare time in Illinois politics where Republicans, southern Illinois Democrats and Chicago Democrats united to resolve the loss of transportation in the state. This united initiative in 1971 became part of the Amtrak "Illinois Service" and is partially funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The state of Missouri's "Missouri Service" never funded an extension of this Amtrak service to either St. Louis or Kansas City from Quincy, Illinois. Instead, they only funded one Amtrak route the Ann Rutledge that travels daily between Kansas City. MO and Chicago, IL - via St. Louis, MO. and Springfield, IL.

Today, the Illinois Zephyr is a 258-mile (415 km) passenger train operated by Amtrak that runs between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois. This Amtrak route is a descendant of the Illinois section of the Kansas City Zephyr and American Royal Zephyr passenger trains operated by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad through Macomb and Quincy until 1968 and 1971. The name Zephyr is preserved in the current name of the line. Today the Illinois Zephyr enjoys strong support from the communities it passes through. They all promote the train line as a means of getting to Chicago, and train tickets are frequently sold out. As such, the route is part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, which calls for an upgrade of service from the current 1 daily round trip to 4 or more daily round trips. The average travel time from Chicago to Quincy via the Illinois Zephyr is 4 hours, 30 minutes.

Station stops

Original American Royal Zephyr, station stops:Illinois


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