USA: Amtrak is to run a special train on August 21 to enable people to reach one of the best locations for viewing the first total solar eclipse to be visible from the continental USA since 1979, and the first to be visible coast-to-coast since 1918.

The Eclipse Express organised in partnership with Illinois Department of Transportation and infrastructure owner Canadian National will run from Chicago and Champaign to Carbondale, Illinois, where totality will start at around 13:20 and have the longest duration at about 2 min 40 sec.

Return tickets cost $153 departing from Chicago Union station at 03.00 or $90 leaving Champaign at 05.05, arriving in Carbondale at 08.30. The return trip will depart at 17.15, giving passengers time to visit the local celebrations. Viewing glasses and a souvenir timetable will be supplied. The route is also served by regular Amtrak services.

Meanwhile, US railways have been warning people to keep off their tracks during the eclipse. BNSF has been contacting communities along the eclipse’s path to emphasise that its normal operations will continue. ‘So everyone can safely enjoy the view, we are reminding community members that railroad tracks are private property and for their safety, the public should never gather anywhere on or near railroad tracks or right of way’, said Zak Andersen, Vice-President of Corporate Relations.

Norfolk Southern points out that an 80 km/h freight train would cover around 3·3 km during the duration of the eclipse, and would take more than 1·6 km to stop.

Union Pacific said there had been 15 total eclipses visible from the continental USA during the company’s history, and warned that wagons overhang beyond the rails and the public should keep well away from its tracks.