Posts Tagged ‘Higher speed rail service’

Higher Speeds Continue to Elude Chicago-St. Louis Line

January 4, 2019

Although some $1.95 million has been spent to rebuild the Chicago-St. Louis corridor for speeds of 110 miles per hour operation, the route still has a top speed of 79 mph.

The Illinois Department of Transportation, which oversaw the rebuilding, had said 90 mph top speeds would be allowed in 2018, but that didn’t happen.

The agency is no longer willing to say when 110 mph running will be possible.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently reported that higher speeds have been kept at bay due to delays in installing and testing new GPS-related safety technology.

IDOT now says that a top speed of 90 mph will go into effect between Alton and Springfield next summer with those speeds being implemented on the rest of the route by the end of 2019.

A top speed of 90 mph would cut the 5.5 hour Chicago-St. Louis travel time by about 15 minutes.

Although IDOT had predicted at one point that the corridor would see 110 mph speeds by 2019, an agency spokesperson said host railroad Union Pacific is still working with the state to test and place into service a positive train control system that will allow those speeds.

UP owns 25 miles of the 285-mile Chicago-St. Louis route. Amtrak is also working with other carriers that own segments of the corridor to achieve higher speeds.

The spokesperson said it was difficult at the present time to estimate when 110-mph speeds will be permitted because further work is needed on the PTC systems.

The spokesperson also said Amtrak continues to upgrade software on its locomotives to communicate with the PTC system and IDOT is committed to working toward 110 mph speeds as soon as possible.

She said it also hinges on such other factors as how soon a second track is built in a national prairie area south of Joliet.

UP spokeswoman Hannah Bolte said her railroad is “100 percent committed” to doing what’s necessary to achieve 110 mph on the route, but added that the Federal Railroad Administration must approve the PTC systems.

Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, called the delays “incredibly frustrating,” but acknowledged that PTC testing will take time because the technology is new.

Even when the PTC systems are up and running the higher speeds on the route will be limited to rural areas outside the St. Louis and Chicago metro areas.

Hearings Begin on Washington-Richmond Corridor

October 12, 2017

Hearings are underway regarding the draft environmental report for a proposed higher-speed rail line between Washington and Richmond, Virginia.

Conducting the hearings are the Federal Railroad Administration and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The first hearings were held this week with additional hearings set for Oct. 17, 18 and 19.
The report, issued, last month, calls for increasing maximum train speeds from 69 mph to 79 mph between Washington and Fredericksburg, Virginia, and to 90 mph between Fredericksburg and Richmond.

The 123-mile D.C.-to-Richmond corridor is part of the 500-mile Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor between Washington and Atlanta.

The report also recommends infrastructure improvements that would allow for nine additional daily passenger-rail trips between the two cities.

FRA Favors DC-Richmond Higher Speeds

September 12, 2017

The Federal Railroad Administration is calling for a higher-speed rail approach to upgrading the Washington- Richmond, Virginia, corridor.

In a draft environmental impact statement issued last week, the FRA said the preferred alternative is increasing maximum train speeds from 69 mph to 79 mph between Washington and Fredericksburg, Virginia, and to 90 mph between Fredericksburg and Richmond.

The report estimated this would cost $5 billion in 2025 dollars.

The FRA and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation are accepting public comments on the report for the next 60 days.

Those comments will be incorporated into the final environmental impact statement.

The 123-mile Washington-Richmond is part of the larger 500-mile Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor that ends in Atlanta.

New Amtrak Station Opens in Dwight

October 28, 2016

A ceremony was held this week to mark the opening of a new $3.26 million station in Dwight, Illinois, that is served by Amtrak.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgThe Illinois Department of Transportation said it is the first new station to open on the route, which is being rebuilt for higher-speed service by Chicago-St. Louis trains.

Construction began in August 2015 and the new depot has 1,500 square feet of space, free Wi-Fi service and a temperature-controlled waiting room.

Funding was provided by a federal grant. IDOT said that stations in Lincoln and Springfield are slated to be renovated.

Trains stopping in Dwight include three southbound and four northbound Lincoln Service trains.

IDOT said the higher-speed rail project is expected to be completed in 2017

Study Finds High Speed Rail Costly, but Feasible

November 5, 2013

True high speed rail operations in the Midwest would be costly to implement but are feasible and might even cover operating costs once implemented.

That was the conclusion of a study conducted by the University of Illinois’ Rail Transportation and Engineering Center and sponsored by the State of Illinois.

The study said 220 mph service linking Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and downtown St. Louis could carry as many as 15 million travelers a year. The study found that it would cost $20 billion to construct HSR right-of-way in Illinois alone.

The study, released late last month, can be accessed via this link.

“Rapid, comfortable, low-cost transportation between these urban areas would boost the Illinois economy, create jobs, unite people in the region, enhance personal mobility, increase international competitiveness and provide safe, modern, sustainable transportation for future generations,” the study said.

“This is not a lot in terms of what we’re going to get out of it,” said Richard Harnish, executive director of Chicago-base Midwest High Speed Rail Association, an ardent supporter of high-speed rail.

“It’s absolutely essential if we’re going to remain a strong economic region.”

Illinois is spending $1.5 billion in federal and state money to upgrade service between Joliet and Alton, which will allow top speeds of 110 mph. Higher-speed rail upgrades are currently under way in Michigan.

The study concluded that California’s “blended” approach to high speed rail is an option in the Midwest.

“An incremental or blended approach completed over a longer time period could also reduce initial capital costs and provide other nearer-term transportation benefits, while simultaneously improving intercity transportation quality and travel times,” the study said.