Amtrak: High-Speed Rail Project South of Springfield, Ill., Lasts Until Early November

CHICAGO – Improvements supporting future high-speed rail on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor south of Springfield will cause the daily Amtrak Lincoln Service trains to originate and terminate in Springfield for alternating periods from Sept. 1 through Nov. 9.

The work on the Chicago-St. Louis route will also cause the Chicago-San Antonio Amtrak Texas Eagle to detour without other scheduled stops in Illinois. Alternate transportation will be provided.

The planned days of track closure between Springfield and St. Louis are for 38 of the 70 days in the period, affecting the Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains September 1-8 and 16-24, Oct. 1-9 and 16-23 and Nov. 1-9. The northbound departures of the chartered motorcoaches and vans from St. Louis, Alton and Carlinville are scheduled one hour ahead of the Lincoln Service train schedules in order for the northbound trains to leave on-time from Springfield.

The Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail corridor is the first high-speed rail project in the country to begin construction. Under an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation (Illinois DOT), Union Pacific will install 220,000 concrete ties and 12 track switches in the first major improvement of the high-speed route between Springfield and Alton. This work and a second phase of the project north of Springfield are funded with a $98 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Amtrak ridership on this corridor has grown significantly with the creation of the Lincoln Service and the addition of two round-trips in 2006, when ridership surged 42 percent from theprevious year. Without adding frequencies, Lincoln Service ridership grew another 14 percent in 2008 and six percent in 2009. From October 2009 through July, 530,648 passengers have ridden Amtrak trains on the corridor, an increase 50,515 from 2009.

In January, FRA awarded Illinois $1.2 billion for high-speed passenger rail through ARRA. Illinois DOT estimates this federal investment will create 6,000 jobs in the Chicago Hub Network, which connects Chicago to cities throughout the Midwest. Including Illinois’ award, the Midwest received $2.6 billion from high-speed rail ARRA grants, more than any other region.

Illinois’ high-speed rail signature route, Chicago to St. Louis, received $1.1 billion for corridor improvements. These improvements will allow Amtrak Lincoln Service trains to operate at speeds up to 110 mph and include new locomotives and passenger cars, rebuilding of track, additional highway-rail grade crossing active warning devices, and implementation of state-of-the-art safety technology.

Illinois DOT has been a partner of Amtrak for nearly 39 years and has made significant progress on the Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service corridor. Extensive rehabilitation of the track and signal systems was previously performed north of Springfield.