Amtrak now offering faster trains between Chicago, St. Louis

Trains began traveling up to 110 mph on the route Wednesday — a 20 mph increase over the previous top speed.

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The Amtrak rail yard in Chicago.

Amtrak’s goal was to make train travel times between Chicago and St. Louis “demonstrably faster than driving,” a spokesman said.

Amtrak photo by Marc Glucksman

If you happened to be on the early morning Amtrak train from Chicago to St. Louis, you might have noticed the scenery whizzing by just a little bit faster Wednesday.

That’s because the federal government recently approved a top speed of 110 mph on the route, a 20 mph increase over the previous maximum.

Right now, the fastest trains between the two Midwest cities take a little more than five hours — about as long as it takes to drive, said Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman.

“The goal is to make it demonstrably faster than driving,” Magliari said.

For now, the rail service isn’t making any changes to the scheduling for those trains.

“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,” John Oimoen, Illinois Department of Transportation’s deputy director of rails, said in a statement.

The speed increase is part of a regional plan to provide faster service on Amtrak.

“We’ve upgraded service across Michigan. We’re upgrading service across Illinois, and we have other plans elsewhere in Illinois and the Midwest over the next several years,” he said.

The train tracks stretch 284 miles between Chicago and St. Louis. The fastest service makes stops in Joliet, Bloomington-Normal, Springfield and Alton.

Amtrak offers five round trips between Chicago and St. Louis daily.

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