High-Speed Rail – Chicago to St. Louis

How it began

IDOT has been studying and planning for the implementation of 110-mph passenger rail service in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor for more than 20 years. As part of the Chicago Hub Network, which includes lines radiating from Chicago in all directions, the corridor was designated a high-speed rail developmental route in 1992 by the U.S. Department of Transportation. IDOT took an incremental planning and investment strategy to upgrade existing track according to federal safety standards where higher-speed passenger trains share track with freight trains. The ultimate goal was to achieve passenger train speeds up to 110 mph with more frequent, reliable service using comfortable, modern and stylish passenger rail cars and equipment.

Initial work

The project broke ground in 2010 using funds from an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant. Working with our partners at the Union Pacific Railroad, the first couple of years focused on upgrading existing track and adding double-tracking and siding upgrades to accommodate higher-speed service. Other upgrades were made to bridges and culverts, drainage and signaling systems to support the higher speeds, reliability and safety along the corridor as well as to minimize future maintenance costs.
Work has continued throughout the corridor during the past several years, including siding reconstructions, grade crossing upgrades, new fencing and signal improvements. By the end of 2017, we will have made major safety upgrades at 203 grade crossings by installing four-quadrant gates and loop detectors to detect vehicles on the tracks when trains are approaching. In addition, 39 crossings have been permanently closed.

Station upgrades

Within the past year, in conjunction with our partner communities, there have been new or upgraded stations opened (or soon to open) in:

  • Dwight
  • Pontiac
  • Normal
  • Lincoln
  • Springfield
  • Carlinville
  • Alton
Passenger Rail Station in Downtown Pontiac Opens

In addition, a new multimodal station in Joliet is set to open next year. These facilities will provide a better customer experience with amenities like free Wi-Fi and connections to bike-pedestrian facilities. These new and improved stations have the potential to be the cornerstone of development efforts in their communities by inviting tourism and acting as a gateway to the community.

Equipment upgrades

New equipment also is a large part of the improvements being made to the Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor and other Amtrak corridors throughout the Midwest. New locomotives built by Siemens were put into service in August 2017, and a total of 33 will be received by early 2018. We are also working with the Federal Railroad Administration and Caltrans on revising the schedule for delivery of 88 new railcars to be used in Illinois, Missouri and Michigan. 

IDOT unveils new Amtrak locomotives

Want more info?

For more information on high-speed rail, please click visit the Illinois High-Speed Rail website

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