Sunday, October 15, 2006

Illinois Amtrak service expansion for Chicago to Carbondale, St. Louis and Quincy

Midwest High Speed Rail Association
P.O. Box 805877 Chicago, IL 60680

For Immediate Release October 14, 2006

Contact: Rick Harnish Office: 773-334-6758
Executive Director Cell: 312-339-0116
Midwest High Speed Rail Association www.midwesthsr. org


Earlier today, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced that tickets have gone
on sale for the new Amtrak Illinois "Lincoln Service" trains on the Chicago –
Springfield – St. Louis corridor. Similar announcements have been made for
new service on the Carbondale and Quincy lines.

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association would like to applaud the Governor
and the General Assembly for making these new trains possible.

Five trains a day to Springfield, St. Louis

The state's busiest intercity rail corridor, the 284-mile Chicago-St. Louis
Lincoln/Heritage corridor, will get two new state-supported round trips.
Because the state already supports one round trip in that corridor and Amtrak
supports two, the Chicago-St. Louis corridor will be able to offer travelers a
choice of five daily round trips.

"For the first time there will be an early-morning train from Chicago that will
get travelers to Springfield at 10:15 a.m.," Harnish said. "State employees will
now find trains a highly efficient way to shuttle between Chicago and
Springfield. They can work and have breakfast en route. So can private
business people who need to meet with state officials at the Capitol.

"That train also will be popular with tourists," Harnish said. "It should be a
boon to the new Abraham Lincoln Library, which is only a short walk from the
Springfield station."

New a.m. departures make trips to Downstate more convenient

Also getting an additional frequency each will be the Chicago-Quincy and
Chicago-Carbondale corridors. The 258-mile Quincy line already has one
daily train leaving Chicago at dinner time. A second frequency leaving in the
morning will enable Chicagoans to make day trips to Western Illinois by train.

The 310-mile Chicago-Carbondale line already has two frequencies, one a
state-supported local train that terminates at Carbondale, the other an Amtrak
long-distance train that goes on to Memphis and New Orleans. Both leave
late in the day. The state's new frequency will leave in the early morning,
enabling Chicagoans to make day trips to Champaign, Mattoon, Effingham
and Centralia as well as Carbondale.

"The new morning departure to Quincy is particularly exciting because
between Chicago and Galesburg it shares a route with two of Amtrak's long-
distance trains that leave Chicago in the afternoon," Harnish said. "When
added to the two Quincy frequencies, those two trains mean Galesburg will
have four daily trains to Chicago—a real resource for business travelers in a
market that is not well served by air and otherwise requires a tiring 160-mile
highway trip."

Coalition of advocates made new trains a reality

While the number of train frequencies in Illinois will more than double
overnight, the decision to move the state to a more ambitious passenger-train
program took a good deal longer and required the cooperation of a broad
range of advocacy groups, Harnish said.

"The universities, local chambers of commerce and economic-developmen t
authorities, several hundred mayors and elected officials statewide, and
individual business leaders stepped forward to urge the General Assembly
and the administration to take this step," Harnish said.

He singled out the United Transportation Union and the Environmental Law &
Policy Center as the Association' s "partners" in a two-year advocacy

"Classic citizen activism at work"

"We also would like to thank all of those people who wrote letters, sent e-
mails and made phone calls asking their legislators to fund these trains,"
Harnish said. "Their effort was classic citizen activism at work. And special
thanks go to our members, whose membership dues and generous extra
donations made it possible for me to make numerous trips Downstate to tell
leaders about the importance of passenger trains to the state's economic

____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
The Midwest High Speed Rail Association is a member-supported non-profit
educational organization promoting the development of fast, frequent and
dependable train service connecting the entire Midwest. Our members
include business leaders, mayors and individuals that want the option of
traveling by train.


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