September encore for Nickel Plate Road 765 in Chicago

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Nickel Plate Road 765, seen in Indiana in 2007, will return to Chicago in September 2018.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society's Joliet Rocket featuring Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 will return to downtown Chicago on Sept. 15 and 16, 2018.

The first class, 1940s vintage-themed train trips will transport passengers between Joliet, Ill., and a layover at Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station. Each of the twice-daily departures features food, cocktails, and live music. Passengers are encouraged to dress in vintage-style clothes. The trips are also a rare chance to see the 765 run at speeds close to 70 mph.

Ticket pre-sales for members of the FWRHS begin on April 2 and open to the general public on April 4.

Last year's Joliet Rocket sold out. More than 2,500 people traveled from 30 states for the excursions. The event earned a more than 90 percent customer satisfaction rate, but railroad society Vice President Kelly Lynch says that there is still room to improve aspects of the trips. He says that 2018's Joliet Rocket will feature longer layover times and improved catering service. This year, Lynch says, there will also be more dome cars in the lineup. He teased that there will be a special service for diehard railfans who want all of the sights and sounds of the 765.

"We're looking to play up the fact that this is a first class experience," Lynch says, "The Joliet Rocket is a shorter trip, but it's still pretty exciting. It's great to have a willing partner in Metra."

The society says that the Joliet Rocket will be some of the 765's last mainline excursions until it installs positive train control technology on the locomotive. The deadline for that technology on all of the nation’s mainline and passenger hauling routes is Dec. 31.
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