Improvements are under way on the final phase of 2012 upgrades to the Chicago-to-St. Louis high-speed route that will be used by Amtrak to run up to speeds of 110 mph.
Installing premium rail with concrete ties and stone ballast are among planned upgrades in the joint project between the Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific. Upgrades are planned for bridges, culverts and drainage; signal and wayside equipment; and roadway-rail grade crossings.
As of June 16, work will progress to north of Bloomington-Normal and most days it will lead Amtrak to charter motorcoaches for Amtrak Lincoln Service (Trains 300-307) passengers at St. Louis, Alton, Carlinville, Springfield, Lincoln, Normal, Pontiac, Dwight, Joliet and Summit, Ill. The Amtrak Texas Eagle (Trains 21/321/421 & 22/322/422) will detour between Chicago and St. Louis for the same period, with alternate transportation in both directions between Joliet and St. Louis.
Motorcoaches are being used to connect to and from Amtrak Illini and Saluki trains in Champaign-Urbana to avoid Chicago suburban highway congestion and downtown Chicago traffic.