12/22/2009 AT 19:15
“In a difficult year for the economy – particularly in the travel industry – Amtrak Illinois ridership has remained strong,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph H. Boardman. The Illinois DOT plans to take the 284-mile Chicago-St. Louis corridor to even higher ridership totals and frequencies by applying for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. Included in the applications is double-tracking the corridor from Chicago to St. Louis, largely in the 220 miles between the Joliet and Alton stations, and other improvements to reduce the travel times between the end-points by 90-minutes to less than four hours from the current schedule of more than five-hours, 15-minutes.
“By reducing future travel times by 90 minutes or more, increasing frequencies and capacity, and improving service reliability with double tracking from Chicago to St. Louis, the ridership numbers can be expected to improve even more dramatically,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “The intent is to provide an affordable and safe alternative to driving for business people, shoppers, tourists and others in Illinois.”
Amtrak and the Illinois DOT have worked closely with Union Pacific Railroad to improve reliability on the route and develop plans to increase the number of daily Chicago-St. Louis round-trips from five to nine. Union Pacific owns most of the 284-mile corridor and has projected the need for double-tracking the route for on-time performance with increased train volumes.
Amtrak is making major investments in the New York area to bring its bridges, tracks and other infrastructure up to a state of good repair, increase track speeds and improve operations, including a soon to start $10 million project to rehabilitate the Pelham Bay Bridge.
Amtrak passengers have more destinations in Wisconsin to begin or end their trips, thanks to an agreement between the national passenger railroad and Jefferson Lines, an intercity motorcoach operator.
Amtrak is using $25 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to replace transformers and other electrical equipment—some of which date to before World War II— at 40 substations that deliver the power needed to propel passenger trains on the electrified tracks.
Alstom has been selected by Caltrans to renovate all 66 bi-level intercity passenger vehicles from its California car fleet.
Travelers may now use Google Transit — Google's public transportation trip planning function — to plan their journeys on Amtrak as five of the railroad's routes were recently added to the Google Transit system.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Province of British Columbia and Amtrak announced today that the long awaited second daily Amtrak Cascades train between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. will begin service on Wednesday.
Amtrak unveiled the first of 81 passenger rail cars to be removed from storage, restored to good condition, and returned to service as part of a program to add seating capacity to trains across its national system using funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Keystone Corridor passengers who use the Lancaster train station will find it much improved and more accessible and comfortable as a result of a major $12 million renovation project now getting underway.
Children age 12 and under who ride Amtrak's western trains can win a Lionel toy train set by describing what they like about riding on the train as part of the 10th annual Amtrak Lionel Kid's Essay Contest.
Amtrak will make that summer trip affordable with new, lower fares including 25 percent off the lowest published coach fare ont Northeast Regional service between Washington, DC, New York, and Boston and extending the current lower fares on Acela Express.