Chicago, IL

Chicago's Polar Express canceled this Christmas due to the railroad worker shortage

Jennifer Geer

Chicago's beloved Union Station Polar Express train ride is another victim of the U.S. labor shortage problem. But there are still suburban options for a little Christmas magic.

(CHICAGO) Taking an enchanted Christmas train ride in your pj's while sipping hot chocolate and munching on cookies has been a family-favorite tradition in Chicago for years.

But this holiday season, the Chicago Union Station Polar Express train ride won't be rolling into Chicago. The ride has been canceled due to "a systemwide shortage of railroad personnel."

Here is the official statement from the Polar Express Facebook page.

"We regret to announce that despite the diligent work of everyone involved, THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride will not operate at Chicago Union Station in 2022. Due to a systemwide shortage of railroad personnel, there are not enough certified operating crews available to run our train this season. We understand this is an important experience for families and will do everything we can to return to Chicago in 2023."

And the official statement from Amtrak,

"We have enjoyed operating THE POLAR EXPRESS™ trains in Chicago the last few years and Amtrak would look forward to operating them again in the future. However, until we have sufficient train crews to operate this private charter service in addition to our scheduled trains, we must give staffing priority to our public services, particularly during the holiday season."

What is going on with railroad personnel in the U.S.?

There is a current shortage of rail workers and rail cars amid warnings of a possible strike among the rail workers.

There is more at stake than a Christmas attraction being canceled. All of this could mean supply shortages for the upcoming holiday season.

Suburban holiday express rides are still on

If you're looking for a holiday express ride to replace the Chicago Union Station attraction, be sure to check out the surrounding suburbs.

Here are a few options, although it's early in the season and most tickets aren't available to buy at this time.

  • The Santa Express departs from the Wheaton Metra Station. Tickets for 2022 will go on sale starting October 4.
  • Blackberry Farm in Aurora usually has a Holiday Express train ride. They don't have information yet for 2022 but check back later this year on their website for details.
  • The Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin has tickets for their Polar Express Train Ride on sale now for dates in November and December.
  • The Oswegoland Park District offers a magical trolley ride to the 'North Pole,' where Santa and Mrs. Claus await, every holiday season. Tickets go on sale in November.
  • The Illinois Railway Museum in Union is selling tickets now for the Happy Holiday Railway.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

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