We at TFA have a strict policy against nostalgia, but we are not forgetful of history. Railroading is bound up with American history and we must not forget the past. There is an important editorial in today’s State Journal-Register about the St. Louis-Chicago corridor. Many people may not realize that this line is the same railroad that carried the Abraham Lincoln funeral train.
My point is that the rail service has been in this location for a long time. When the GM&O railroad acquired this line (the Chicago and Alton) in the 1940’s it was double-track all the way and routinely operating close to the 100 mph mark, if not higher. The right-of-way has since been degraded. What is being proposed is the restoration of a previously existing passenger service. It is much needed.
THE RAIL SYSTEM would allow trains to travel 110 mph. Amtrak had record ridership last year, in part because of gasoline price spikes.
We are already agonizingly close to having 110 mph trains along the Springfield to Chicago corridor.
With $75 million in improvements to tracks, the signal system (air traffic control for trains) and platforms, passengers could get from Springfield to Chicago in 2 1/2 hours. Even just spending $15 million to allow in-cab signals and automated stop features would cut the current 3 1/2-hour trip to three hours, according to the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.
GETTING TO 110 MPH is a vital next step in the development of high-speed rail, but it still pales compared to the 200 mph-plus trains in Europe and Asia.