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Amtrak passengers between St. Louis and Chicago will be treated to new highs in the world of train travel. Just last week, Amtrak announced that it is revving up its high speed rail service between the two cities, which will top out at 110 mph. Sure, it’s no 350+ mph MagLev super train, but it will reduce travel time by up to an hour. Regular high speed rail service on the Lincoln line is the first step towards establishing a high-speed rail network in Illinois.

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Over the last six years, Amtrak has experienced 75 percent growth in ridership on its four Illinois routes totaling up to more than 2.1 million passengers in 2011. Ridership on the Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service alone has doubled in that time period, making it a perfect line to begin upgrades on. For a 15-mile stretch, the train will speed up to 110 mph and will maintain 79 mph for much of the rest of the route.

Amtrak has been steadily making new upgrades to the line including state-of-the-art signaling, and significant technological and safety advancements. By 2015, Amtrak will have upgraded the rest of the route to enable trains to run at 110 mph for 75% of the line. The 284-mile stretch from Chicago to St. Louis usually takes over 5 hours, but the new service will shave off more than an hour of travel time. The upgrades and improved rail service came just in time for holiday travel.

“This next generation rail system gives passengers a safer, more reliable way to travel across Illinois and connect with family this holiday season,” Illinois Governor 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

Via Bloomberg Businessweek

Image ©Riley Kloepfer/Amtrak