Amtrak passenger service at speeds up to 90 mph should begin in the summer of 2018 in Illinois with the states’ seven-year, nearly $2 billion high-speed rail project in its final months.
Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said in an interview this week with The State Journal-Register that much-promoted speeds up to 110 mph between St. Louis and Chicago should follow in 2019, pending installation of automated train-control and detection technology required for faster trains.
Blankenhorn said he expects the project to finish on time and on budget. Federal funding will pay $1.65 billion of the estimated $1.95 billion final cost with the state covering about $300 million. The cost comes with an 85%, on-time guarantee for Amtrak travel, once faster speeds begin. A big piece of remaining work is on the Union Pacific-Third Street corridor in Springfield.
In addition to crossing and signal upgrades, 6-ft safety fencing will be installed on each side of the Third Street tracks. Safety, technology and accessibility improvements also are planned for the Amtrak station in Springfield.
The state has taken delivery of 33 new locomotives, and 88 new passenger cars are on order. Faster trains require improvement to 190 crossings and the closing of nearly two dozen, 330 miles of main and secondary track, and nearly 90 miles of safety fencing meant to prevent trespassing.
Source: The State Journal-Register (Springfield, Ill.)