Amtrak ridership on its four Illinois routes has surged by 75% (totaling 2.1 million users) in only six years. This might be why it has decided to increase the speed of its high-speed rail service between Chicago and St. Louis, which is aimed at reducing travel time by up to an hour (20%).
This would be good for the busy holiday season!
Ridership on the Chicago–St. Louis route alone has actually doubled in this time period.
“This next generation rail system gives passengers a safer, more reliable way to travel across Illinois and connect with family this holiday season,” Illinois Governor Quinn said in a news release on the matter. “Today’s announcement demonstrates significant progress on this major transportation initiative that will continue to boost Illinois’ economy and make sure our state has the best rail system in the nation.”
The Chicago–St. Louis route is 284 miles, with trips currently taking 5 hours.
On a 15-mile stretch, the train increases its speed to 110 MPH, and it maintains a speed of 79 MPH for most of the remaining distance.
The increase of travel speed actually improves throughput because more trips can be made in a day, so more people can be picked up.
In other words: reducing travel time by half theoretically means that Amtrak can make approximately twice as many trips, and hence, transport twice as many people.
Apart from that, higher speeds make mass transit more attractive to potential riders.
Amtrak’s services have also been undergoing other smaller upgrades, such as improved signaling systems, as well as other miscellaneous technological and safety advancements.
Hopefully, Amtrak won’t increase its rates to compensate for any efficiency degradation that may have been caused by the speed increase.
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