Saturday, May 26, 2007

Springfield image of Amtrak train and the capitol with a suggestion for faster trips

Sent from MWHSRA member Harvey Kahler, this picture of 80 or so people (some of whom are in the image) boarding a northbound train in Springfield, Illinois with the beautiful Capitol in the background.

Did you know how close the Capitol is to the Amtrak station? If you'd like to visit the Capitol, take Amtrak. Plus, the Abraham Lincoln Library is about three blocks directly behind the picture-taker, so if you want to visit the museum about the nation's most famous railroad lawyer, then take the train. Thanks to the new five-a-day schedule, you can take a day trip from either St. Louis, Chicago or anywhere else along the line.

Harvey also suggests (in an email which I've now posted to the blog without permission, as well as his photograph, by the way...) we find a way to create faster boarding at stations to keep the trains on time. He suggests evenly dividing up the crowd to board onto three cars instead of all going on one, to save four or five minutes. Those minutes do add up, as Harvey says "it takes 5 minutes of 110 mph running time to make up for every extra minute of station dwell time." I think what he means is that the difference between running 79 mph (what we do now between Springfield and Joliet) and 110 mps (which we can and should be doing between Springfield and Joliet with a few investments) is just as important as getting people on and off the train as quickly as possible. Makes sense to me.

Post from new blogger on restored Chicago-Dubuque service

Here's a post from our newest blogger, Greg. If you'd like to blog on this site, email me at so we can grow the conversation.

IDOT picks CN as route for Dubuque-Chicago train
On Wednesday, The Illinois Department of Transportation announced it had chosen the former Blackhawk route for service between Dubuque and Chicago because of its economic viability. The route, now under Canadian National ownership, would need improvements to the tune of 2.5 million in state funds to get this service going. However, IDOT spokesman Mike Claffey made clear that restoring service in Northwest Illinois is not something that is in the budget right now.
“I can tell you right now that we are focused on the budget process for fiscal year 2008, which starts in July, and to my knowledge this is not a part of that process,”
He also added that part of the Governor’s $3 billion capital plan would only be used to allocate funding for rail service if lawmakers fought for those funds.
Rick Harnish, the executive director for the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, went on to say that
“If passenger rail service is ever really going to come back to Illinois, citizens will have to lobby for it as well.”
I guess the question we should all really be asking ourselves is how badly do we want this? I mean fighting for state funds to improve rail service to make commuting easier; to make the quality of life easier should be a no brainer. What is it going to take for us to realize that? When is enough enough? High speed rail, expanded Amtrak service, these are all things that we should want because things are not getting any better on the highways or in the airports. The environmental issues aside, the point I’m trying to make is that it comes down to common sense. Use the railroads, help the environment. Use the railroads, save money on gas.
Railroads are on the way back, slowly maybe, but the tracks are coming.