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Illinois Transforms Rail Travel

JB Pritzker joined federal, state, and local officials, along with the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, the Union Pacific Railroad, and project supporters at Union Station today to celebrate the start of 110 mph passenger rail service between Chicago and St. Louis.

This multi-year project better connects the state’s communities and major institutions while improving safety, convenience, and accessibility. Starting with the first trains on Amtrak’s state-supported Lincoln Service this morning, the higher speeds are eliminating approximately 15 minutes from the previous 90 mph runtimes between the two cities and 30 minutes from the initial 79 mph schedule in place when the project broke ground.

"Illinois is the only state where all seven of the nation’s largest railroads operate. That’s a unique economic advantage recognized by employers across the globe, helping our state attract and maintain quality jobs,” said Governor JB Pritzker. "By upgrading to higher-speed service on Illinois’ largest passenger rail line, we are solidifying our status as the transportation hub of North America. Investments like these do more than just connect cities – they allow our residents to access opportunities beyond their immediate neighborhoods, streamline regional collaborations, and open doors for new jobs and new businesses.”

In addition to increasing speeds, the $1.96 billion project has boosted safety and reliability for passengers while providing upgraded and new stations. Ride quality has also been enhanced up and down the corridor for both passenger and freight service on the Union Pacific Railroad, thanks to the addition of new concrete ties along the route and improvements to bridges, culverts, and signaling systems.

The project also built new stations in Dwight, Pontiac, Carlinville, and Alton, renovated the Lincoln station, improved the existing Normal station, and made upgrades to the Springfield station. A separate project to build a new multimodal station in Joliet was completed in 2018, with a second phase starting in 2021.

The facilities provide a better customer experience and amenities, such as free Wi-Fi and connections to bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The new and improved stations act as gateways to their communities, inviting tourism and providing additional travel options for the public.

"The Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail project is testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and a shared vision for a brighter future,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin . "This transformative endeavor, decades in the making, symbolizes our commitment to improving mobility, creating jobs, and fostering sustainable growth. From local communities to federal officials, countless individuals have contributed to its success, leaving an indelible mark on the Midwest and our nation's rail operations. As we witness the realization of our long-term aspirations, let us embrace this moment as proof to what we can accomplish when we unite for progress and invest in the future of transportation. Today, we celebrate not just a railway, but a symbol of possibility, prosperity, and a more connected future for all."


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