The Chicago Tribune says that a new study on the St. Louis-Chicago corridor will be released today. Currently, Amtrak operates at around 79 mph. on this route and the latest plans would raise speeds to 110 mph. There is good cause to be thinking of something very much faster, according to the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.
By going 220 m.p.h., however, those improved trip times would be cut roughly in half, to 1 hour and 52 minutes, according to the association. The estimate includes making intermediary stops in Champaign and Springfield, while providing customers with downtown-to-downtown service and beating the door-to-door trip times of airline travel.
This is a very old railroad right-of-way, and in this case it is a good thing. Originally the Chicago and Alton, the Lincoln funeral train used this route from Chicago to Springfield. It is the old GM&O, which is my family railroad. The point is that it is straight in many places and people are accustomed to its operation.
This is a situation in which it makes a great deal of sense to relocate freight traffic and completely rebuild the line for the fastest trains possible. The $11 billion price tag tells me that the AHSRA is making a strong bid for a major slice of the federal money.
There are several excellent reasons to favor this route, including the existance of a “mature” base of consummers who already use rail transportation.