May 6, 2023 - TRA Newswire -

The good news is that the daily Texas Eagle, operating from San Antonio to Chicago, will be running faster at 100 miles per hour, shaving time off its run. The bad news is that the higher speed will happen in illinois, not in Texas.

A long-term billion dollar investment by the Illinois Department of Transportation, Union Pacific Railroad and the federal government to upgrade tracks for higher performance service has come to fruition. Amtrak and IDOT received federal approval for maximum speeds up to 110 mph for most of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, primarily between the Amtrak stations in Joliet and Alton. In Texas, the state has not been interested in a public-private partnership with railroads to develop corridor trains and improve service as other states continue to do.

This will help establish shorter schedules for the four Amtrak Lincoln Service round-trips and the Texas EagleThere are no timetable changes at this time for the 10 daily Amtrak trains on the route. “Trains will continue to operate at 110 mph for several weeks without a change in schedule to ensure everything on the system is running properly and to monitor the actual travel time between stations,” said John Oimoen, IDOT Deputy Director, Rails. 

Amtrak media spokesperson Marc Magliari said "we're looking forward to a big celebration this summer when we shorten the schedules for all of the trains on the corridor."  Until now, 90 mph has been the maximum authorized speed on the Illinois tracks owned by Union Pacific Railroad. Amtrak operates Lincoln Service and other trains under a contract with IDOT. 

The Texas Eagle operates with Superliner two-level equipment which can run at a top speed of 100 miles per hour, still much faster than the 79 MPH maximum mandated on all other segments of its schedule by the Federal Railroad Administration. 

Special equipment, installed as part of IDOT’s Chicago to St. Louis High Speed Rail Project, monitors the trains and traffic control systems, alerting the train crews of any potential problems. Additional warning signs and fencing have also been installed in select areas to encourage safety and deter trespassing.

Photo credit: Amtrak