UPDATE: 'Eclipse Express' coverage from southern Illinois

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Steve Smedley
A humid breeze wisps through the wheels of a rusted baggage cart in Champaign, Ill., at 5:28 a.m. Monday.

Amtrak's product line agent Ed Kim stands on the platform of the Illinois Terminal Intermodal Transportation Center in Champaign as the engineer of the Eclipse Express special dims the headlight for a station stop to board 70 passengers and six media guests.

"I'm very excited we are able to cater to a special event, with passengers able to travel to Carbondale and return on the same day. We're taking a few cars off the road, with Carbondale next door to the Shawnee National Forest so we are also improving the carbon footprint."
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Americans and visitors by the tens of thousands are congregating as close as they can today around a narrow band of shadow cast by the moon as it blocks the sun for mere minutes making a total solar eclipse.

The path of that shadow crosses every time zone in the continental U.S. and Class I railroad network in a way not seen for nearly 100 years. Trains contributors Steve Smedley and Bob Johnston are following space fans to southern Illinois on Monday, Aug. 21., as passengers aboard Amtrak's Eclipse Express, a special sold-out train of coaches from Chicago to Carbondale. Once there, passengers expect to see the sun completely blotted out, for a time. Expect to read and see a glimpse of passengers' experiences on News Wire.

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