Thursday, August 23, 2007

St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that Amtrak Illinois ridership soars

Who says the media doesn't report on good news?

Amtrak Illinois ridership is exploding, thanks to the leadership of the Illinois General Assembly to double service, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Terry Hillig files this report on the 40% growth on the St. Louis - Chicago corridor.

At the end, Hillig notes the on-time performance issues that have hurt the corridor (particularly between St. Louis and Springfield):
The ridership gains have exceeded the optimistic expectations of Illinois and Amtrak officials but have not been without a downside. Trains are often late and it is usually because Amtrak shares its routes with freight trains.

"We had some teething problems in the beginning," Magliari said. "The service was initiated without any additional infrastructure."

But on-time performance has improved steadily, and officials of Amtrak, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Union Pacific railroad are discussing improvements that will make it easier for Amtrak trains to pass the freights, he said.
Let's hope they get on it. Late trains are unacceptable. And furthermore, we should be able to squeeze out the padding on these schedules to get these trip times closer to four hours than the 5 hours, 40 minutes we have today.

Imagine how many more riders we'd attract with a trip time of four hours!

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