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After years and nearly $2 billion, Illinois begins higher-speed rail

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(The Center Square) – After more than a decade and nearly $2 billion, travelers on Amtrak in Illinois will experience higher speeds between Chicago and St. Louis. The higher speed will cut about 15 minutes of travel time.

On Monday, state and federal officials discussed the start of the higher speeds for the Lincoln Service line.

“By upgrading to higher-speed service on Illinois’ largest passenger rail line, we are solidifying our status as the transportation hub of North America,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “Investments like these do more than just connect cities. They allow our residents to access opportunities beyond their immediate neighborhoods, streamline regional collaborations and open doors for new jobs and new businesses.”

The project that began in 2010 is a partnership between the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, the Union Pacific Railroad and the state of Illinois. The $1.9 billion project includes new stations in Dwight, Pontiac, Carlinville and Alton.

Pritzker said the project would improve day-to-day travel for many Illinoisans.

“Projects like this will allow our residents to access new jobs and to start new businesses,” Pritzker said. “They bring neighborhoods and cities closer together to collaborate for the betterment of our entire region.”

Republican lawmakers have had different responses to the project, including questions about how the project would be paid for.

State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dietrich, told The Center Square that the funding for the project would have to come from the taxpayers.

“I don’t see how it is feasible without a tax increase,” Neimerg said. “The people of Illinois are taxed enough.”

State Rep. Mike Marron, R-Fithian, said he is in “support of the project” and hopes the Lincoln Line will include a stop in Champaign.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, joined Pritzker for the announcement and said the project is about more than just the railway.

“As we witness the realization of our long-term aspirations, let us embrace this moment as proof of what we can accomplish when we unite for progress and invest in the future of transportation,” Durbin said. “Today, we celebrate not just a railway but a symbol of possibility, prosperity, and a more connected future for all.”

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