The Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific are performing the last of three phases of 2013 upgrades to Illinois' signature high-speed route, Chicago-St. Louis, for future 110 mph operation of Amtrak Lincoln Service trains.
The construction work includes the installation of new premium rail with concrete ties and ballast; upgrades to bridges, culverts and drainage; signal and wayside equipment installations and upgrades and roadway-rail grade crossing improvements.
For five days starting October 16, track improvement work south of Normal and bridge and culvert upgrades south of Springfield will lead Amtrak to charter buses for Lincoln Service passengers at St. Louis, Alton and Carlinville, Springfield and Lincoln.
On October 21, 22 and 23, Lincoln Service trains will originate and terminate in Springfield, instead of St. Louis, and Amtrak will continue to charter buses for passengers at St. Louis, Alton and Carlinville. The Amtrak Texas Eagle will detour between Chicago and St. Louis for the entire period, October 16-23, with alternate transportation in both directions between Joliet and St. Louis.
These infrastructure improvements will enable Amtrak to operate service at speeds up to 110 mph in the future, an increase from the current maximum of 79 mph in effect over most of the route. Starting last Thanksgiving, the Dwight to Pontiac segment became the first part of the corridor to regularly experience trains traveling at speeds up to 110 mph.
In the 11 months since October 2012, ridership on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor has increased by nearly 67,000 when compared with the same period a year ago, totaling nearly 627,000 passengers – an increase of 11 percent that sets the stage to break the record of 675,295 set last year.