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Amtrak’s solar eclipse train sells out in 22 hours

People look through eclipse viewing glasses, telescopes or photo cameras an annular solar eclipse.
Richard Bouhet | AFP | Getty Images
People look through eclipse viewing glasses, telescopes or photo cameras an annular solar eclipse.

Next week's solar eclipse is delivering some welcome financial news to Amtrak.

The national passenger rail system's special round-trip train service to and from the best eclipse viewing area in southern Illinois sold out in less than a day, Amtrak said Sunday.

Early on the morning of Aug. 21, a total of 409 riders boarding at Chicago's Union Station and in Champaign, Illinois, will ride the special train to Carbondale.

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There, the first U.S. solar eclipse. since 1979 — and the first to sweep coast-to-coast across the nation in nearly a century — is forecast to have what Amtrak bills as one of the celestial event's longest durations, roughly 2 minutes, 38 seconds.

However, each rider will receive special eclipse-viewing glasses, compliments of Amtrak and Carbondale Tourism. The train is scheduled to leave Chicago at 3 a.m. CDT and pull out of Champaign at 5:05 a.m. CDT, early enough to get to Carbondale for the afternoon eclipse.

Seats on the special train cost $153 for an adult making the round-trip journey from Chicago and $90 for an adult who boards in Champaign. The eclipse train sell-out is good for the bottom line of Amtrak, which has regularly jousted with Congress and the White House for funding.

President Trump's proposed budget would cut $630 million from Amtrak's long-distance service, nearly half of the rail system's $1.4 billion current spending plan. The proposal, yet to be acted on by Congress, prompted train travel enthusiasts to hold Amtrak support rallies in June.