Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider and Amtrak officials commemorated the launch of 110 mph rail service on a 15-mile segment along the Chicago-St. Louis corridor just in time for the heavily traveled Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The launch represents a historic step towards the establishment of a high-speed rail network in Illinois, one of Gov. Quinn's key priorities as he works to modernize the state's infrastructure.
"This next generation rail system gives passengers a safer, more reliable way to travel across Illinois and connect with family this holiday season," Gov. Quinn said. "Today's announcement demonstrates significant progress on this major transportation initiative that will continue to boost Illinois' economy and make sure our state has the best rail system in the nation."
Amtrak Lincoln Service trains will operate at a maximum speed of 110 mph between Dwight and Pontiac. Other Amtrak trains on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor will continue to operate at 79 mph top speeds, including the Texas Eagle.
"Governor Quinn's leadership and guidance on implementing high-speed rail service has been instrumental in moving this major infrastructure project forward," Secretary Schneider said. "We are extremely proud to introduce 110 mile per hour rail service to Illinois Amtrak passengers for the very first time, and look forward to continual progress in bringing enhanced services to riders along the corridor."
In addition, select Amtrak Lincoln Service trains will have also free AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi service throughout the coaches, business class seating and in the cafes. Passengers are advised to look for the Illinois High-Speed Rail logo and AmtrakConnect posters on trains.
"Regular operations at 110 mph for six daily Amtrak Lincoln Service trains are a major milestone in the development of our Chicago Hub network," said Amtrak President & CEO Joe Boardman. "Combined with our high-speed trains in Michigan, this means Amtrak now has a total of 14 daily trains to and from Chicago that operate at 110 mph."
The 15-mile segment showcases major infrastructure improvements, state-of-the-art signaling, and significant technological and safety advancements. The 110 mph service is projected to be in place along nearly 75% of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor by 2015, reducing travel time by more than an hour.
As the transportation hub of the Midwest, Illinois is a national leader in passenger rail expansion. Total ridership on Amtrak's four Illinois routes has grown nearly 75% over the past six years, rising to more than 2.1 million passengers last year.