Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation are looking at adding trains on the route between Carbondale and Chicago. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Gov. Pat Quinn are asking for Amtrak to consider adding trains, but Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says this is already under review.

“We’ve been working on this internally, at Amtrak and at IDOT, moving schedule ideas back and forth, and it’s a long way from there to actually having a study that says does this make business sense for us and for the state, but we’re going to get there, and we appreciate the encouragement of Sen. Durbin and Gov. Quinn and their interest in this issue,” he said.

 

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There are three daily trains each way on the route now.  One is the long-distance City of New Orleans, while the other two – the Illini and the Saluki – are state-supported trains.  Any new trains would be state-supported too, with the state paying 85 percent of the difference between cost and fare revenue.

Ridership on the route is up 117 percent, to almost 400,000 annual passengers, since one round-trip was added in 2006.  Intermediate stops on the line include Du Quoin, Centralia, Effingham, Mattoon, Champaign, Rantoul, Gilman, Kankakee and Homewood.

“To facilitate continued growth in passenger rail, we need to increase the number of opportunities available to riders.   This study is the first step to increase the frequency of trains along the Chicago to Carbondale route,” Durbin and Quinn wrote in their letter to the Amtrak chairman and president.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio / www.AltonDailyNews.com)