Chicago to New Orleans Traffic in the 1990s


·         Passenger

Amtrak Trains 58 and 59, the City of New Orleans, cover the entire route from Chicago to New Orleans. Illinois service (trains 391, etc.) runs between Chicago and Carbondale. Metra Electric service covers the northernmost segment into Chicago.

·         Intermodal

There are intermodal trains between Chicago and New Orleans, Chicago and St. Louis, and Chicago and Memphis.

·         Coal

IC serves coalmines in Illinois by means of branches leaving the mainline to the east just south of DuQuoin. Coal trains from (say) the Powder River Basin in Wyoming to power plants in the area also traverse portions of the IC mainline. For example, UP coal trains from Powder River to Liss, IL, runs along the IC main south of DuQuoin, with empties in reverse. Powder River coal is also carried between DuQuoin and a power plant at Moss Point, MS.

·         Steel

Steel coil is carried to a stamping plant near Hazelhurst, MS

·         Automotive

NS has trackage rights on part of the Gilman District for automotive trains to its own line at Gibson City. There seem to be no dedicated automotive trains on the IC mainline.

·         Grain

Numerous trains run along the IC main to the turnoff for Decatur where ADM and Staley have large plants. These include trains from Glenwood Yard in Chicago plus the Champaign and Cairo to Decatur locals, which are mainly grain cars. The Cairo trains carry grain between the mills at Decatur and barge transshipment terminals at Mound City on the Ohio River. Grain trains also run between Peoria, IL, and Remy, LA for export shipments, and grain is carried locally between Memphis and Marks, MS where there is a grain processor.

·         Chemicals

In 1997, one third of IC’s total revenue came from the “Chemical Coast” along the lower Mississippi River in Louisiana. These plants are served from Geismar Yard, and by the freights between Geismar and Memphis.

·         Oil and other tanks


·         General Merchandise

In addition to trains between Memphis and ConRail at Effingham, there are trains between Memphis and Chicago (and the reverse), Glenwood and New Orleans, New Orleans and Champaign, Champaign and Glenwood, and pairs of trains between, New Orleans and Decatur, and Memphis and East St. Louis. With the exception of the East St. Louis trains, these tend to run over the Bluford Cutoff between Fulton and Edgewood.

·         Local Peddlers

These comprise pairs of train between Chicago and Champaign, Champaign and Decatur, Cairo and Decatur, Memphis to Lambert, Jackson to Yazoo City, Jackson to Hazehurst, and southward from McComb. Pulpwood (harvested southern pines) is carried on special cars loaded at Hazelhurst, MS.