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Chicago - St Louis high speed rail

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Since Amtrak inaugurated high speed between Joliet and Dwight IL, I have observed through Amtrak's train tracking the highest speed of 99 mph.

Does this corridor ever live up to "Illinois High-Speed Rail" advertisements of higher speed considering the fact that 110 mph was obtainable?

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Note the "high speed" portion is between Dwight and Pontiac, not Dwight and Joliet. I have taken this train several times, and we usually hit 110 between Pontiac and Dwight (albeit for only a few minutes).

 

Note that the Texas Eagle does not go up to 110, only the Linoln Service (not sure why).

 

That being said, advertising high speed rail is a bit of a joke for now until we get high speed along most of the route, and figure out the slow sections between Joliet and CUS (they are working on that), and between Alton and St Louis (they really aren't working on that).

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Guest Andrew

When the Lincoln Service travels that quickly, how are the noise levels within the passenger cars?

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When the Lincoln Service travels that quickly, how are the noise levels within the passenger cars?

The Lincoln service uses the same kind of Amfleet coaches they use for the Northeast Regional, and those go 125 mph, and it's perfectly quiet inside. We rode on them at the Gathering, it was indistinguishable from a Northeast Regional trip (though we weremn't going 100 mph between Chicago and Joliet.)

 

Now, if you want noisy trains, you have to ride the Chicago L.:) And I remember one ride in 1972 from NYP to PHL, on the Southern Crescent. Amtrak stuck a few of their own cars in the consist for the Northeast Corridor riders, and the one I was stuck in was an old PRR P70, still painted in Penn Central peas-soup green. Running through Jersey we must have been above 100 mph (they had already done the track improvements for the original Metroliners), and that was one noisy rock-and-roll of a ride.

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Guest grover5995

Note the "high speed" portion is between Dwight and Pontiac, not Dwight and Joliet. I have taken this train several times, and we usually hit 110 between Pontiac and Dwight (albeit for only a few minutes).

 

Note that the Texas Eagle does not go up to 110, only the Linoln Service (not sure why).

 

That being said, advertising high speed rail is a bit of a joke for now until we get high speed along most of the route, and figure out the slow sections between Joliet and CUS (they are working on that), and between Alton and St Louis (they really aren't working on that).

I believe the plan is for nearly all of the Joliet-Alton segment to be upgraded to 110mph in a couple years. The route from Chicago-Joliet is supposed to switch to the METRA/Rock Island line in a few years due to freight interference on the Heritage Corridor. The Texas Eagle is a longer train and uses heavier double-deck Superliners so it cannot go quite as fast.

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I believe the plan is for nearly all of the Joliet-Alton segment to be upgraded to 110mph in a couple years. The route from Chicago-Joliet is supposed to switch to the METRA/Rock Island line in a few years due to freight interference on the Heritage Corridor. The Texas Eagle is a longer train and uses heavier double-deck Superliners so it cannot go quite as fast.

However, teh Superliners do run many miles at 90 mph on the Southwest Chief route.

 

I feel like the Chicago - St. Louis "High Speed" has become a sinkhole for money with very little to show for ti. A lot of that is Illinois politics. The reality is that in GM&O days regardless of speed limits of 79 mph or whatever, the schedule was likely faster than the best now and little slower than that after the 110 mph is in place. As a matter of pride the GM&O boys did their best to keep schedule even if it meant running 90 plus regardless of speed limits. Then at that time there were three railroads operating Chicago - St. Louis passenger service.

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IIRC, the Superliners are rated up to 100 MPH. They can't take full advantage of the upgrades, but they can take advantage of most of their potential.

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The agreement in place with the host railroad does not allow the Texas Eagle to operate at higher speed. Only a few specific trains are allowed to do so, and the Texas Eagle is not one of them. So no, Superliner or not, the Texas Eagle cannot take advantage of the higher speeds possible.

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The agreement in place with the host railroad does not allow the Texas Eagle to operate at higher speed. Only a few specific trains are allowed to do so, and the Texas Eagle is not one of them. So no, Superliner or not, the Texas Eagle cannot take advantage of the higher speeds possible.

The idiocy points in this agreement are multiple and goofy beyond all imagining. Did someone have a gun to the heads of the people on the state's and fed's side of this side of this concept?

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IMHO the general level of idiocy or at least willful neglect of intelligent decision making on all sides involved in the Chicago - St. Louis HSR Project is of epic proportions. It is hard to fathom why this sort of thing is tolerated for many years with no one screaming blue murder.

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I feel like the Chicago - St. Louis "High Speed" has become a sinkhole for money with very little to show for ti. A lot of that is Illinois politics. The reality is that in GM&O days regardless of speed limits of 79 mph or whatever, the schedule was likely faster than the best now and little slower than that after the 110 mph is in place. As a matter of pride the GM&O boys did their best to keep schedule even if it meant running 90 plus regardless of speed limits. Then at that time there were three railroads operating Chicago - St. Louis passenger service.

I think the reason you have seen little to show for the CHI-STL corridor is that they still have a long way to go on the improvement projects. Checking the status of the big $1.142 billion grant on recovery.gov (diving down to state and projects), IL has filed their quarterly report through December 31, 2013 which shows that $370 million of the total grant has been spent so far (link which may not work). The $1.142B grant includes rolling stock purchases for the corridor service, so those won't be paid in full until the bi-level and locomotives are delivered. Still, as a crude metric, IL has spent 32% so far of the major grant for the corridor upgrades for the bills that were paid as of December, 2013.

 

There is a separate $186 million grant for double tracking and upgrades from Dwight to Joliet, which I believe has yet to start any track work. It is a FY10 project grant, so it is not covered on the recovery.gov tracking site. While the CHI-STL corridor will need another billion or two to reach the final project goals, the improvements from the funding that has been provided are still in the pipeline. Have to give it until at least 2016 before the funds are going into a sinkhole or not. Yes, this is taking a long time after the funds were awarded, but unless you are DOD, it usually takes time to spend some $1.4 billion in federal money.

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St. Clair County leaders are considering committing $500,000 to lure a high speed rail station to East St. Louis as part of the state's project connecting St. Louis and Chicago with a 284-mile rail track capable of allowing trains reach 110 mph.

The St. Clair County Board will consider using the money to aid the state's Department of Transportation with the design and planning of the station, which would be adjacent to the MetroLink on River Park Drive. Board members will likely vote on the proposal during a meeting on Monday night....

"We are the only county with MetroLink so that will allow ... all the communities in St. Clair County to be attached to high speed rail," Kern said. "If a station isn't built in East St. Louis, you'll have to travel to Alton or St. Louis to get on a high speed train. Alton is probably a half hour, 45 minutes (to reach by car). If you have to travel to St. Louis, you will be leaving your home to cross the bridge to get on a train that will then backtrack just where you were. Then when you are coming back, the train will pass your home on its way to St. Louis."

The project is funded through $1.2 billion in federal funds and $400 million in state funds. The St. Clair County Transit District would provide the proposed local funding....

The project is expected to be completed in 2017, though, significant reductions in travel time to Chicago will begin in 2015. The cost of the proposed station in East St. Louis is not yet known.

 

 

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A long time ago in another life (not really) I became involved with a group(civic & political people) pushing for a high speed rail connection between St. Louis and Chicago. Over more than a decade it appears that a "hybrid" of high speed rail is about to make that connection. I say "hybrid" only because 110 mph surely is not high speed; higher speed but not high. Anyway . . .

 

I travel between St. Louis and Chicago in order to make connections for Amtrak's long distance trains out of Union Station. The trip aboard the Lincoln Service trains takes roughly 6 hours. It is fair to say that I have never been later than 20 minutes arriving into Chicago. That ain't bad. Anyway . . .

 

When reading the post revealing "plans" for an East St. Louis stop for high speed rail, I had to cringe. What makes high(er) speed less likely is the insertion of more stops between end points.

 

Get my point?

Edited by Juneaudog

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Isn't East St. Louis sort of the Detroit of Missouri/Illinois? :ph34r: When I used to travel there often on Business the Locals would tell us Don't Cross the River to East St. Louis! I wouldn't think too many HSR Passengers would catch the Train there when the Commuter Trains run to the New St; Louis Intermodel Station where you can catch Amtrak! I agree there's really no need for this Station, it would just Slow Up the Corridor Trains!

Edited by jimhudson

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Isn't East St. Louis sort of the Detroit of Missouri/Illinois? :ph34r: When I used to travel there often on Business the Locals would tell us Don't Cross the River to East St. Louis! I wouldn't think too many HSR Passengers would catch the Train there when the Commuter Trains run to the New St; Louis Intermodel Station where you can catch Amtrak! I agree there's really no need for this Station, it would just Slow Up the Corridor Trains!

Parts of East St Louis literally resemble a war zone. I've been there, I've saw it with me own two eyes.

 

Oh, and the Metrolink ride across the river into Civic isn't that bad. East St Louis has a lot of problems, that ain't one of them. 500k can be much better spent.

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The agreement in place with the host railroad does not allow the Texas Eagle to operate at higher speed. Only a few specific trains are allowed to do so, and the Texas Eagle is not one of them. So no, Superliner or not, the Texas Eagle cannot take advantage of the higher speeds possible.

Wasn't there talk at some point that additional Lincoln Services would be added in the future?

 

Basically this agreement would seem to preclude that possibility.

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Final downstate construction begins for 110-mph trains

Amtrak passenger trains should be running at speeds up to 110 mph between Carlinville and Joliet in 2015, based on the latest update of high-speed rail construction from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
This year's construction season, the fifth since the $1.5 billion federal-state high-speed rail program began, includes approximately $100 million worth of rail, bridge, siding, crossing and station improvements between St. Louis and Chicago.
“We are on schedule to bring most of the Joliet-Carlinville segment to 110 by the end of 2015,” IDOT spokeswoman Paris Ervin said.
The upgrades, according to IDOT, will allow for 110-mph service between Carlinville and Joliet that was first begun in 2012 on the section between Pontiac and Dwight. The goal is 110-mph service on the entire St. Louis-Chicago corridor in 2017.“We are on schedule to bring most of the Joliet-Carlinville segment to 110 by the end of 2015,” IDOT spokeswoman Paris Ervin said.This year's construction season, the fifth since the $1.5 billion federal-state high-speed rail program began, includes approximately $100 million worth of rail, bridge, siding, crossing and station improvements between St. Louis and Chicago.
Work in the Springfield area includes siding upgrades at Auburn, Carlinville, Elkhart, Girard, Lincoln and just north of Springfield.

 

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Looks like the Eagles will be heading for Amish Country on re-routes and the Lincoln Service Trains will be Bustitutions on Selected Days!

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The article mentions the overpass being constructed at Normal to allow trains to serve both tracks, meaning the old platform will be put back into service. That had been mentioned at the time the new Normal station opened, but until this article I had never seen any sort of timeline for that construction.

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Saw this article on the CHI-STL corridor status at Progressive Railroading and this thread appears to be the most on-topic for it.

Progressive Railroading November magazine article: The Chicago-to-St. Louis higher-speed rail project nears finish line. (well, depending on how one defines "nearing" the finish line. The funded track work will continue to 2018).

Excerpts which help to explain why the upgrades have been taking so long (think EIS and going through the local approval process to upgrade almost 300 grade crossings).

All the upgrades are expected to reduce the entire five-and-a-half-hour train journey from Chicago to St. Louis by about an hour. Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains currently run at a maximum speed of 79 mph along the route, save for a 15-mile stretch between Dwight and Pontiac, Ill., where trains began running at 110 mph on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

Since then, the project’s leaders have continued to forge ahead in the face of several hurdles, including pushback from local communities, difficulties associated with implementing positive train control (PTC) and stringent environmental documentation requirements. Although there’s still work left to do, they’ve logged a series of accomplishments — from the completion of track rehabilitation along the corridor to breaking ground on the line’s first new station — and stand ready to tackle the project’s final phases within the next few years.
....

“We are challenged by some of the requirements for consensus building when it comes to grade crossings, in particular,” said Phil Pasterak, who heads the Parsons Brinckerhoff team charged with managing the project.

He made the remarks during a presentation he delivered last month at Railway Interchange 2015 in Minneapolis.

The route includes nearly 300 crossings, and the project team must gain approval from each community along the way.
.....

Another challenge for project planners: implementing PTC for higher-speed trains without adequate federal guidance.

Like Class I routes, the Chicago-St. Louis passenger line will feature an Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS), but there’s one important difference: “We are now the only corridor … in the country where I-ETMS needs to operate at speeds of up to 110 [mph],” said Pasterak.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued some PTC guidelines for running trains up to 90 mph, but not yet for trains exceeding that speed. UP’s signal team is working closely with the FRA to get rules governing trains traveling beyond the 90 mph mark, Pasterak said.

In the interim, UP is installing a new fiber trunk line along the entire right-of-way to prepare for PTC implementation.

Because the federal government is covering most costs associated with the $1.9 billion project, planners also must comply with a hefty set of environmental reporting requirements.

So far, the project’s leaders have begun working on nearly 50 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Tier II documents, which examine the line’s potential impacts on wildlife, habitats and other natural resources.

The reporting process has taken “a lot more time than anybody ever imagined when we speculated and started designing this project,” Halsted said. “But we are continuing to trudge through this.”

 

BTW, calling the CHI-STL "high speed rail" project has always been a stretch. I agree with one of the comments to the article that the project and maybe even the title of this thread should be Chicago - St. Louis higher speed rail.

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The Texas Eagle has Superliner cars, which can only handle 100 MPH, but the problem is most likely the engine does not have the remote signaling needed for speeds above 79 MPH, according to US law

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not quite, one P42 can pull the Texas Eagle at 100 MPH, because they roll very well, it does not have the signaling needed for speeds 79+ MPH, according to US law

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not quite, one P42 can pull the Texas Eagle at 100 MPH, because they roll very well, it does not have the signaling needed for speeds 79+ MPH, according to US law

 

Are you responding to a particular question or comment?

 

It's been over 6 months since there was a comment in this thread, until yours.

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At least it addresses the topic to some degree. It's about trains operating on the Lincoln service route. This is unlike most of the posts on AU.

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