Lake Shore Limited races the clock

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When last you heard from me, the Lake Shore Limited had left Toledo more than two hours late, and the pregnant question was whether I would have gourmet pork belly for lunch at Blackbird or settle for a tuna sandwich from a Chicago Union Station newsstand. For pork belly, the train would need to get to Chicago by 11:45 a.m., two hours before departure of the Texas Eagle. As train 49 left Elkhart, it was clear to me we would need to run without any delay to make that 11:45 deadline. Could we?

My research into this month's operation of the Lake Shore gave me little comfort. On 12 of 20 days the train lost time between South Bend and Chicago and on eight it made up time. But on average train 49 lost 10 minutes -- this on a schedule that has 30 minutes of slack time to begin with. Not once did this train make up 30 minutes, which means that every single day this month it encountered some delay west of South Bend.

Now, because I know you are anxious to know, let's answer the other questions I posed a few hours ago. Which is flatter, northern Ohio or northern Indiana? The answer is northern Illinois. I guess that answer is impermissible. The real answer is northern Ohio. We passed some little bumps in northern Indiana. And did Alan Mulally allow me to copy his test papers in German I? Alan was my Kappa Sigma fraternity brother at the University of Kansas, that much is true. But the future CEO of Ford Motor was not in my German I class and is therefore not guilty.

You may as well know I did not get to Chicago in time for pork belly. Or even a tuna sandwich. Upon leaving Elkhart, the Lake Shore became the peanut butter in a huge sandwich of Norfolk Southern freights. We spent\ almost two hours getting from Elkhart to South Bend, 17 miles. We were 4 1/2 hours late. From South Bend, a perfect run would get us to Chicago just as the Eagle was scheduled to leave. Would we make it to Union Station in time? And if not, would the Texas Eagle wait for we waifs seeking to connect?

I'll keep you posted. - Fred W. Frailey  

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