The on-time performance of Amtrak trains between St. Louis and Chicago is improving, but only indirectly because of a higher-speed segment. The 110-mph stretch between Pontiac and Dwight went into service in mid-November, but it takes only two or three minutes off the trip.
Rick Harnish of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association says his experience is better than that. “Pretty consistently, the trains are arriving into stations early … a couple of minutes here or there, although I’ve been on trains getting into St. Louis 15 minutes early or more,” he said.
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On-time performance on the eight daily local trains on the route in December was up 6 percentage points vs. the year as a whole – 86.6 percent in December vs. 80.6 percent for all of 2012. Harnish and Amtrak say the improvement comes from the rebuilt tracks and signals between Alton and Joliet, and Union Pacific dispatchers giving Amtrak priority.
Harnish says dependability is important for passenger trains.