Thanks to a 2010 American Recovery and Reinvestment grant, IDOT completed a $2 billion overhaul of the most popular Amtrak route in the Midwest to not only provide riders with greater comfort and convenience, but improve quality of life across the entire state and help transform communities. Improvements started with the reconstruction of 262 miles of track with concrete ties and stone ballast that provided a smoother ride for passengers. Those track improvements, for which IDOT worked with host railroad Union Pacific to complete, will allow Amtrak to eventually reach speeds of 110 mph, up from the typical 79 mph. With track construction substantially complete, train speeds are beginning to ramp up; a welcome improvement for riders who will now get to their destinations faster.
In addition to those track upgrades, IDOT built new stations with customer enhancements such as climate-controlled waiting areas, Wi-Fi, and connections to bike trails. Finally, 33 new locomotives with greater fuel efficiency, lower exhaust emissions, and lower maintenance costs are now in service, while new passenger cars are set to arrive by 2022. Those enhancements all equate to a more comfortable, convenient, and more reliable ride for passengers, as well as a true asset for the whole state.