Trains For America

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Potential Illinois high speed route sees ridership increase

Tim Landis in the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill reports the latest Amtrak numbers. Mostly good news. Landis’ column is an excellent regional business roundup, including some local airline news. One thing that makes conventional fast trains attractive for Springfield is the lack of good air service.

AMTRAK ridership continues to increase on two of three routes in Illinois, but not by the double-digit rates of last year, when gasoline hit $4 per gallon.

Figures for the first seven months of the federal fiscal year October through April show 315,482 passengers on the Chicago-St. Louis route, up 6 percent; 133,486 on the Chicago-Quincy line, up 4 percent; and 172,464 on the Carbondale-Chicago route, down 1 percent.

Filed under: Amtrak, Regional USA Passenger Rail

7 Responses

  1. Peter Laws says:

    Illinois has no high speed routes. The Positive Train Control project on the CHI-STL line was shelved because the vendor couldn’t deliver what was promised. All lines are limited to 79 mph.

  2. Peter Laws says:

    And of course, that’s why the article uses the word “potential”. 🙂

  3. Woody says:

    What this line needs first is more frequencies. When the State of Illinois paid for the two additional trains a couple of years back, they filled up, almost doubled the passenger totals on the route But it’s still about three (3) hours between departures. Leave Chicago at 7 a.m., 9:25, 1:45, 5:15, and 7 p.m. Get that gap down to two (2) hours, add a late evening departure from Chitown and early morning departures from Springfield, and you could double the ridership figures again.

    It cost Illinois less than $30 million to pick up the operating loss on the added trains. Can’t we find another $30 million somewhere to do this? Make Amtrak a bank, I guess. Unload a trillion or so of defaulted mortgages on it and the money would flow like water. Or do I digress?

  4. Mad Park says:

    This article’s mention of Springfield brings up an important point not to be lost in discussions of higher speed trains – the smaller cities between large conurbations must b served as well. Whether it is Springfield, IL or Rochester, MN or Bellingham, WA, these important regional cities deserve inclusion into an improved US rail network.

  5. Nathanael says:

    Chicago-Carbondale was packed to the gills, even sold out some days, last year. People are probably avoiding it due to overcrowding at this point. It can’t expand without more trainsets. This means that those Illinois numbers are all *very* good.

  6. Larry Hollenberg says:

    It may be the track work which has created delays and elimination of one whole train set for a couple months that is driving the carbondale business away this year. Yes they were packed last year for sure.

  7. Woody says:

    Let’s not sweat a 1% decline in customers on that Carbondale route. One percentage point is almost a rounding error. In this economic climate most businesses would be happy if customers dropped by only 1%.

    Nathaniel has it right, though. These figures show the need for more trainsets so we can get more frequencies all across the Amtrak system, where there is huge pent-up demand. We need to see a huge order for more passenger cars for Amtrak. If we place the order tomorrow, we’ll be able to add more frequencies during Obama’s second term. Better get going on it.

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