ST. LOUIS — Up to 20 minutes will be shaved off Amtrak’s St. Louis-to-Chicago travel times under new higher-speed schedules that kick in June 26.
The passenger rail line on May 3 began running at speeds up to 110 mph between the two cities but held off changing its schedules until after several weeks of experience. Previously the maximum was 90 mph.
Under the new timetables, it will take from four hours, 55 minutes to five hours, 34 minutes to get from St. Louis to Chicago, depending on how many in-between stops are scheduled on a run.
Now, the shortest time allotted for a northbound run is five hours, nine minutes.
Faster rail journeys were among the goals of a $1.95 billion upgrade of the corridor that was largely finished in 2017.
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But delays in installing and testing new GPS-related safety technology kept Amtrak from hitting higher speeds as soon as the Illinois Department of Transportation had predicted.
In 2021, Amtrak was allowed to boost the maximum speed on the route to 90 mph from 79 mph. That cut trip times by about 15 minutes. Federal officials authorized the increase to 110 mph in May.
The higher speeds are employed only in the more rural parts of the route outside the two large metro areas, roughly between Alton and Joliet on the southern edge of the Chicago region.
Among other improvements are new rails and concrete ties, new and rehabbed stations, improved street crossing gates, sidewalk gates, and pedestrian fences at crossings.