Higher Speeds from St. Louis to Chicago Delayed Again for Amtrak

Long awaited improvements on the Amtrak route between Chicago and St. Louis are being delayed again, this time because of trouble installing positive train control (PTC).

2 minute read

September 11, 2019, 2:00 PM PDT

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark

Springfield, Illinois

A Lincoln Service train heads into Springfield, Illinois from St. Louis. | Katherine Johnson / Flickr

Faster rail service will not be ready by the end of this year as the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) had once hoped. Trains are still unable to exceed 70 miles per hour along the Alton-Granite city corridor, but when work is done, trains will be able to move at 90 mph speeds across the whole route. IDOT now says that improvement will occur in 2020, but has yet to set a date for when train will reach 110 mph speeds the project originally sought.

"The time needed to install and test a new GPS-related safety technology positive train control, is the reason for the longer-than-expected implementation, officials say," Mark Schlinkmann reports for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Positive train control (PTC) is a federally mandated safety protocol that was not required when the project started. "The upgrade of the corridor, begun in 2010 and largely finished in 2017, also includes installation of new rails and concrete ties, new Amtrak stations in Alton and elsewhere and improved street crossing gates to keep vehicles from weaving around crossing bars," Schlinkmann writes.

Many upgrades to the route not related to PTC are already complete. "Other improvements were aimed at reducing delays that sometimes make trips longer than scheduled, such as adding or lengthening second-track segments and sidings so two trains can run simultaneously in more areas," Schlinkmann reports.

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