CHICAGO – Ninety-six miles of tracks and a quarter-million railroad ties for future high-speed Amtrak trains will be installed in Central Illinois starting this weekend, leading to the substitution of chartered motorcoaches for some Lincoln Service trains for several weeks and the detour of the Texas Eagle between Chicago and St. Louis.
The temporary changes will allow Union Pacific Railroad crews to improve infrastructure to allow Amtrak service at speeds up to 110 mph, an increase from the current maximum of 79 mph. The Illinois Department of Transportation (Illinois DOT) anticipates a track segment between Dwight and Pontiac will be ready for faster service next year.
The Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail corridor is among the first high-speed rail projects in the country to begin construction, breaking ground north of Alton last September. Last week, Governor Quinn and railroad partners announced the start of 2011 construction, with $685 million in work this year.
“Bringing high-speed rail to Illinois has been a top priority of my administration because of the thousands of jobs and long-term investment it will bring to our state,” said Gov. Pat Quinn at the event held at the Amtrak locomotive facility in Chicago.
“We’ve been privileged to partner with Illinois DOT for more than 39 years and Amtrak is looking forward to operating high-speed trains on the Lincoln Service corridor,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman.