CHAMPAIGN — The surprise would have to wait a while.
Charles Forrest rode the Danville shuttle to Champaign's Illinois Terminal early Tuesday morning in hopes of catching the 10:25 a.m. Amtrak train to Carbondale.
At 2:40 p.m., he was still sitting looking out the windows at the tracks.
"I'm just passing time, walking around and around," said the Danville resident.
He had planned to visit a "lady friend" in Carbondale.
"She doesn't know I'm coming," he said. If the delay dragged on, he would have to take the shuttle back to Danville in the evening and make the trip another day.
Forrest was one of many passengers waiting in the terminal until the tracks were cleared for traffic. Trains were delayed for several hours after a construction crew in Champaign hit a gas line Tuesday. Streets were also closed in the vicinity of where the line was hit near Bradley Avenue and Fourth Street while Ameren crews fixed the leak.
It was supposed to be a quick trip to and from Champaign for Charleston resident Rajasri Pingili, whose eyes were getting heavy by early afternoon.
She woke up at 4 a.m. Tuesday, traveled from Charleston to Mattoon and caught the 5:25 a.m. Amtrak to Champaign. After her morning meeting concluded, she planned to return on the 10:25 a.m. But instead she was still waiting into the early afternoon.
"I didn't get much sleep last night," she said.
Nearby, Katie Ann Mast of Sullivan leapt out of her seat around 2:40 p.m. when staff announced the 390 train to Chicago, originally scheduled to leave at 10:14 a.m., was ready to depart the station.
"I might be able to make the 6 o'clock train" to East Lansing, Mich., Mast said as she hustled to gather her bags, stuffed with train timetables. Once in Chicago she would transfer trains; ultimately she was headed to a wedding in Clare, Mich.