Now that high-speed rail has been tested, when will it actually be put into service on the route between St. Louis and Chicago? It should be 2015 for the stretch from Alton to Joliet, says Joseph Shacter, head of the Public and Intermodal Transportation Division at IDOT.

“We still have quite a bit of work to do in terms of particularly some capacity additions, so there are more sidings available, as well as the signal system installation for that entire stretch,” he said.

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The main tracks were reconstructed over the last three years, so they are ready to accommodate 110 mph trains.

Shacter says the work that’s needed between St. Louis and Alton and between Joliet and Chicago has been neither designed nor funded, so that’s a ways off.

Hitting 110 regularly between Dwight and Pontiac should occur around Thanksgiving, once all the locomotives that operate on the route are equipped to interact with the new signal system.

Also coming in 2015 will be new rolling stock to serve all Illinois Amtrak lines, including the new Moline and Rockford service. On order are 88 coaches, and 30 locomotives.

Total cost for everything – the high-speed improvements, the new equipment and new or refurbished stations in many places – is expected to be $1.9 billion.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/