A new 110-mph Amtrak passenger rail service running between Chicago and St. Louis began on Monday of last week, allowing people to travel between the two cities faster than in previous years.
The line, which is called the Lincoln Service, shaves 15 minutes off the trip according to a press release from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, making the journey shorter than five hours. The train used to travel at 90 mph before the update to the service.
In the release, Pritzker touted that Illinois is the only state where all seven of the largest railroads in the U.S. operate.
“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,” Pritzker said in the release.
The update to the service is the result of a $1.96 billion project centered around railroad transportation in Illinois. Speed increases were a focus, along with improving ride quality with amenities like free Wi-Fi. The project also included building and upgrading stations across the state, including the Dwight, Pontiac, Carlinville, Alton, Lincoln, Normal, Springfield and Joliet stations.
Amtrak President Roger Harris said in the release that the upgrades and shorter travel times help create a “full makeover” of the services offered.
“The team at IDOT, Amtrak, and UP has delivered travel times that will make a real difference to our customers: Less than two hours from Chicago to Bloomington-Normal and shorter than three hours to Springfield, with end-to-end St. Louis-Chicago schedules of under five hours,” Harris said.
Multiple U.S. government officials also expressed excitement for the updated rail system in the press release, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin stating that the project is a “testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and a shared vision for a brighter future.”