City of New Orleans title block
City of New Orleans title block

City of New Orleans (Amtrak): Chicago to New Orleans

Embark on an adventure aboard the Amtrak City of New Orleans. This daily Superliner train links the lively city of Chicago, IL, to the soulful rhythms of New Orleans, LA, passing through Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

A view of the sun setting from the window of Amtrak City of New Orleans.
A Mississippi sunset is seen through the window of Amtrak’s City of New Orleans train.

Travelers traveling the entire route will go a 934-mile route with 18 intermediate stops, including the historic city of Memphis.

Additionally, passengers can use Amtrak’s connecting services from this train to travel beyond the rails.

If you are considering a trip, let me provide the information you need about the Amtrak City of New Orleans, including accommodations, food, schedules, onboard amenities, and more.

If planning a trip to New Orleans, check out the Beyond Bourbon Street Podcast and website.

The podcast and website cover many insider trips to New Orleans and suggest activities beyond Bourbon Street. A travel guide is also available!


About the City of New Orleans Route

The City of New Orleans is not the most scenic Amtrak route, but the destinations make it worth the ride.

Map of the Amtrak system
Day and night camera From Trains.com

When traveling south, the views start after Memphis, where, depending on the time of year, the sun will begin to rise. The train will take you through various cities, and you will have a chance to get off the train in Jackson, MS, for a smoke break.

One of my favorite sights in both directions is the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge, the longest bridge in the world! The upper level of the train provides a stunning view, making it feel like the train travels on water.

You can see the southern and northern parts of the route heading north. As you approach Chicago, you can spot Guaranteed Rate Field and more.

When this train first started, it was operated by Illinois Central, departing from what is now Millenium Station in Chicago. In the 1970s, Amtrak relocated all the Chicago trains it operated to Union Station, causing the train to reverse maneuver to access the old Illinois Central, now CN tracks.

When arriving at or departing from Union Station, please know it may take 15-20 minutes to reach the station, but this is part of the schedule.

How the City of New Orleans gets in and out of Chicago Union Station

In both directions, you mainly see parts of Louisana and Mississippi; if you are traveling North, you see parts of Northern Illinois.

The neatest part of this train is going over the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge! Especially if you are on the top level of the train, it can feel like you are on a boat traveling over the water because that is all you see from both sides.

Route guide for Amtrak’s City of New Orleans

Over a decade ago, Amtrak produced route guides for many of its trains, and I could go back in time to get them for you. You can download them to your device or print them out if you are interested.

The City of New Orleans on-time performance and host railroads

Canadian National/Illinois Central hosts most of the City of New Orleans route, and Amtrak owns the tracks around the end stations.

  • Amtrak’s City of New Orleans had an average passenger on-time performance.
    • For June 2023-2024, the train averaged 76.3% with an average delay of 82 minutes.
    • In June 2024, the City of New Orleans averaged 74.9%, with an average delay of 72 minutes,
  • While Amtrak can cause delays, the host railroads often contribute to delays once the train leaves the originating station.
    • The top two delays caused by CN include:
      • Freight train interference and Slow order delays

The information for this section comes from the official Amtrak Host Railroad Report June 2024.

If you transfer to a different train, you can check out other Amtrak long-distance trains’ on-time performances.

Coach Class on Amtrak City of New Orleans

Amtrak Superliner coach seats
Amtrak Superliner lower-level coach seating (Photo courtesy of Amtrak.com)

The Amtrak City of New Orleans coach class features:

  • Comfortable reclining seats with ample legroom
  • A fold-down tray
  • Seat back pocket
  • Leg and footrests
  • Individual reading lights
  • 120v grounded (three-prong) electric outlets on the wall under the windows
  • Upper and lower seating
  • Above-seat luggage storage, with shelving on the lower level, too.
  • The bathrooms are on the lower level.

Coach class travel tips from Kev’s experience

Over my decade of train travel, I have discovered a few things that make the trip in coach class more enjoyable. I always bring a water bottle, snacks, and extra money for the cafe car. I’ll explain more about the cafe later.

An extension cord is essential to bring! The outlets in the coach are on the wall, and while there are two outlets, you need to share one with your seatmate. An extension cord allows you to plug in more than one item at a time. The other advantage is that if you have an aisle seat, you can have power without bothering your seatmate.

A blow-up pillow or another pillow and a blanket can make sleeping or napping more comfortable. A bulky hoodie can work, too, if you do not need it.

Some entertainment helps, too! While the windows can work, I often bring other things like puzzle books and magazines, my iPad for movies and shows, and my iPhone has music and podcasts. If you are looking for more Amtrak entertainment ideas, that post.

Coach car layout

Amtrak Superliner Coach Car Diagram
Superliner coach car diagram: Some cars do not have lower seating but have a space for baggage.

Sleeper accommodations on Amtrak’s City of New Orleans

All rooms include:

Amtrak Superliner seat
Amtrak Superliner seat
  • Complimentary meals
  • Lounge access in Chicago and New Orleans
  • Dedicated car attendant
  • At least one outlet in the room
  • A place to hang garments
  • Amtrak supplies:
    • Hangers, pillows, fresh linens, blankets, and towels
  • Access to showers: Amtrak provides soap.
  • Coffee and juice in the morning with water bottles in your room.
  • Seats by day, beds by night.

Amtrak sleeper car tips

Traveling thousands of miles in Amtrak rooms has taught me a few things, and I want to share those tips with you.

Storage in these rooms is limited, so packing lightly and efficiently is essential. If you need more space, storage is on the car’s lower level

Looking at a Superliner sofa and room
Superliner bedroom sofa (Photo courtesy of Amtrak.com)

While Amtrak often has water bottles in the room and includes your meals, I like to have backups. Additionally, I like bringing snacks, and money for the cafe never hurts. 

Amtrak provides pillows and blankets, but consider bringing a blow-up pillow for extra comfort. It’s a small addition that can make a big difference to your journey, especially if you are a side sleeper. You can always see if they have additional pillows. 

An extension cord is also necessary! In most rooms, there is only one outlet on the wall; if you bring one, you will have power where you need it and can charge more than one thing at a time. 

Types of rooms offered aboard the City of New Orleans

  • Roomette
    • Amtrak’s smallest rooms are excellent for one and cozy for two.
    • Rooms 1-10 are on the upper level, with 11-14 on the lower.
  • Bedroom
    • Twice the size of a roomette with an in-room restroom and shower.
    • All rooms are on the upper level.
  • Family bedroom
    • Provides seating and berths for two adults and two smaller kids
    • There is one of these rooms per sleeper car, and it is on the lower level.
  • Accessible room
    • Accommodates passengers with mobility issues and their travel companions
    • You will find the accessible bedrooms on the lower level of the train.

Amtrak City of New Orleans Sleeper car layout.

Superliner Sleeper
The layout of a Superliner Sleeper Car.

Wi-Fi and the City of New Orleans

The City of New Orleans does not have Wi-Fi or entertainment systems outside the windows. Here are some entertainment ideas for when you ride Amtrak.

The Amtrak City of New Orleans sleeper car door open waiting for passengers.
Amtrak’s City of New Orleans is waiting to leave New Orleans for Chicago.

Amtrak City of New Orleans add-ons

There are a few things that you can add to your next adventure on this train!

Bikes

  • Space is available for standard, full-size bicycles
    • Up to 50 lbs, 70 inches x 41 inches x 8.5 inches.
    • Amtrak stores bikes in designated bike racks/areas inside the baggage car (if available).
    • For more information, check out Amtrak’s bicycle policy.

Pets and service animals

  • Amtrak allows dogs and cats.
    • Up to 20 pounds with the combined weight of the pet and carrier
    • For trips up to seven hours.
    • You must complete paperwork for your fluffy friend before boarding the train.

If you have a service or comfort animal, you need to check out Amtrak’s service animal policy to see if your critter qualifies and if they do what you need to do for them to ride with you.

Luggage on this train

Click the station links below to see if they offer checked baggage service. Your departure and destination station must offer check bag service for you to check bags.

  • The City of New Orleans also allows checked baggage
    • Each passenger can bring two bags up to 50 lbs. and 75 linear inches for free.
    • Charges apply for additional and oversized luggage.
    • Not all locations can handle checked baggage.

Each passenger may carry on:

  • One personal item, 25 lbs. (12 kg) and 14 x 11 x 7 inches
  • Two carry-on pieces of luggage, 50 lbs. (23 kg) and 28 x 22 x 14 inches each

If you transfer to the Pacific Surfliner at some point along your journey, the baggage size for that train is up to 28 x 22 x 11 inches each.

Charges apply for additional and oversized luggage; check out Amtrak’s carry-on bag policy for more information.

Accessibility on the City of New Orleans train

A Wheelchair Ramp is available to assist passengers with a wheeled mobility device in boarding and detraining. The train has lower-level coach seating and accessible bedrooms. If you have a service animal, check out Amtrak’s service animal requirements in the above “pets” section.

Food On Amtrak’s City of New Orleans

Amtrak Coffee
Coffee tastes better on the rails—coffee from Amtrak’s cafe car.

The cafe is on the upper level in the middle of the train. Sleeper passengers also get their food from this car.

Cafe car

  • The cafe features
    • Various hot and cold meals
    • Snacks
    • Hot, cold, and adult beverages
  • The cafe is available for all customers from early morning until late at night.
  • It may close during meal prep times and breaks.
  • This car is between the coach and sleeping cars in the middle of the train.

You can bring food and drinks aboard the train. Due to FDA regulations, you cannot eat food in the cafe car. If you are in coach class, you cannot drink the alcohol you brought aboard. If you have a sleeper, you can consume it in your or your travel buddy’s room.

Flex dining

Amtrak Flex Meal
Amtrak’s Asian Noodle Flex is a dinging entree with dinner roll, salad, dessert, and beer.
  • Flex Dining is complimentary dining for sleeping passengers.
  • You can eat your meals in your rooms or the cafe car.
  • Meals are prepared and warmed on the train.
  • Selections for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Those who want and are of legal age can get a complimentary adult drink with dinner.
  • You can purchase additional adult beverages.

The Amtrak City of New Orleans scheduled Meals:

This table helps you see what meals you get aboard the City of New Orleans based on the day. If you head south, you will receive dinner before or after departing from Chicago!

DIRECTIONCITY SECTIONSDAY OF TRAVELMEALS OFFERED
#58 NorthboundNew Orleans, LA- Memphis, TN1Dinner*
Newbern-Dyersburg, TN – Chicago, IL2Breakfast
#59 SouthboundChicago, IL – Effingham, IL1Dinner
Centralia, IL – New Orleans, LA2Breakfast & Lunch
*Dinner is served not long after you get on the train in Chicago.

Amtrak City of New Orleans Schedule

This schedule comes from Amtrak.com, and Amtrak can alter it at any time. Always refer to the “e-ticket” in your app or log into the website to verify times before leaving for the station.

These times were last checked on July 19, 2024.

Train 59
Southbound
Communities ServedTrain 58
Northbound
Read DownDaily TrainMilesLast Stop
8:05pChicago, IL
Union Station (CHI) B
09:15a
8:54pHomewood, IL (HMW)247:44a
9:23pKankakee, IL (KKI) F577:13a
10:34pChampaign-Urbana, IL (CHM)1296:10a
11:13pMattoon, IL (Charleston) (MAT) F1735:23a
11:37pEffingham, IL (EFG) F2004:57a
12:25aCentralia, IL (CEN) F2534:10a
1:26aCarbondale, IL (CDL) F B3093:16a
3:14aFulton, KY (FTN) F4061:04a
3:56aNewbern-Dyersburg, TN (NBN) F44212:22a
6:27a | 6:40aMemphis, TN
Central Station (MEM)
52810:20p | 10:40p
8:01aMarks, MS (MKS) F5978:31p
8:55a | 9:00aGreenwood, MS (GWD)6547:32p | 7:37p
9:51aYazoo City, MS (YAZ) F7066:42p
11:12a | 11:20aJackson, MS (JAN)7515:28p | 5:44p
11:55aHazlehurst, MS (HAZ) F7844:17p
12:16pBrookhaven, MS (BRH) F8053:56p
12:40pMcComb, MS (MCB) F8283:32p
1:28pHammond, LA (HMD)8812:45p
3:47pNew Orleans, LA B
Union Passenger Terminal (NOL)
9341:45p
Final StopStationsMilesRead Up
‘This chart is a guide; always check with the electric version of your tick for the most up-to-date times or consult the Amtrak website.

Abbreviations

R = Receive passengers only; this means you can board the train, but you cannot buy a ticket on this train to this station.

D = Depart only; you can buy a ticket to this station but not from this station.

F= Flag-stop

B = Stations with Amtrak Connecting Services.

Printable Amtrak City of New Orleans Schedule

This PDF is available for you, but you can also print customer schedules; this article helps you print Amtrak schedules custom-made for your trip or entire routes.

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Kevin Monteith

Kev Monteith has been traveling on Amtrak since 2012. With over a decade of experience, he has been on over 800 trains, covering over 200k miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by providing support and information. Outside of travel, Kev enjoys making music as an organist and outings with family.

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