Higher speeds promised on Illinois trains

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ILLINOIS (WAND) – Illinois leaders say train passengers should expect faster speeds in the coming months.

A $1.95 billion project features new trains, tracks and the installation of safety equipment that will allow trains to move as fast as 110 miles per hour in Illinois. Federal funding is covering $1.65 billion of the cost, with the state covering the final $300 million.

Illinois High-Speed Rail organizers say Illinois has ordered 33 new locomotives and 88 passenger cars. Safety fencing will be installed, certain railroad tracks will be closed and crossings will be upgraded as part of the project.

The Illinois Department of Transportation wants to raise the on-time percentage of trains to 85 percent when it comes to Amtrak travel.

“Passengers would use our trains a lot more if they knew they were going to be there when they need them and were not going to be an hour-and-a-half late,” said IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn.

IDOT says passengers heading from St. Louis to Chicago will have up to 20 minutes shaved from their trip when more tracks are installed in the Joilet area. When speeds reach 110 miles per hour, passengers will save over 50 minutes.

The 90 mph speeds are expected to be available by the summer of 2018, with the 110 mph speeds opening in the St. Louis to Chicago route in 2019.

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