2010 Construction

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Construction Accomplishments


Trains began operating at speeds up to 90 mph in December 2021. It is anticipated trains will begin operating at higher speeds, up to 110 mph, following regulatory approvals and testing later in 2022.


The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is working with Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak as they install and test Positive Train Control (PTC) and enhanced grade crossing warning system along the corridor. PTC is a safety system that communicates conditions at the crossings to the approaching trains, which could allow the train engineer to react and reduce speeds in the event a warning system has malfunctioned or if a vehicle is detected on the tracks. Before trains can operate at speeds greater than 79 miles per hour (mph), the PTC system at grade crossing locations and within the train must be tested for efficiency and compliance with Federal regulations. Once PTC testing is complete and approved, trains will begin operating at speeds of up to 90 mph. This initial increase in speeds is anticipated to begin in 2020. The overall Project encompasses improvements designed to accommodate the operation of higher speed passenger trains, up to 110 mph.


Significant portions of the infrastructure improvements have been completed. All improvements along the 3rd Street corridor in Springfield have been completed. New diesel locomotives have been delivered and are in service. Positive Train Control (PTC), a safety system that uses advanced communication systems to avoid collisions with other trains, protect maintenance workers, and enforce speeds in slow zones, continues to be installed throughout the corridor.


In 2017, significant work throughout the corridor was complete including the construction of new stations in Dwight, Pontiac, Carlinville and Alton; and rehabilitation of the station in Lincoln.


In 2016, significant work was completed. Double track and sidings were installed and crossings were improved throughout the corridor. Construction continued on stations ­-- the new Dwight Amtrak Station opened for service on October 28, 2016. In addition, stakeholder events were held to provide the public with program and construction updates.


In 2015, considerable construction took place. Double track and sidings were installed and bridges were improved in Bloomington, Springfield, and Joliet. Construction also began for the Alton, Dwight, and Lincoln stations. In addition, stakeholder events were held to provide the public with program and construction updates.


In 2014, work was conducted throughout the Corridor. Track Renewal Train (TRT) work was substantially completed between Madison and East Alton, along with work on several bridge improvements (such as work at the Salt Creek Bridge).

View a video of TRT »


During 2013, work on the Illinois High-Speed Rail Chicago to St. Louis Corridor included the following:

Track Construction

Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and contractors that have been awarded through publicly advertised and bid projects performed track construction, grading, and drainage work at the following locations:

  • Girard Siding (8.7 miles) - This work commenced in 2013, and most work will conclude in 2014. Reconstruction on the existing Girard siding began, along with a new second mainline track, which was added from the Girard siding north near Virden.
  • Carlinville Siding (3.5 miles) - Reconstruction of the existing siding began in 2013 and will conclude in 2014.
  • Work from Dwight to Pontiac is primarily complete, although additional close-out and maintenance tasks will be performed to finalize work in this segment.

Grade Crossings

Grade crossing construction began in 2013 within the segment from Thayer to the Carlinville area. Work on the remaining grade crossings in the Dwight to Pontiac segment continued.


Fencing within the high-speed rail right-of-way (ROW) was constructed by contractors that have been awarded through publicly advertised and bid projects within the Dwight to Pontiac and Carlinville to Virden segments.


Utility work in the Thayer to Carlinville segment was on-going. Utility work between Thayer and Atlanta (excluding Springfield) began in 2013.

Railroad Signal Equipment

UPRR began installing new railroad signal equipment within the railroad ROW from Dwight to Pontiac (to complete work started in 2012) and from Atlanta to Carlinville.

Bridges and Structural

Various bridge construction and/or modifications were performed by UPRR and contractors that have been awarded through publicly advertised and bid projects.

Environmental Documentation

In addition, a number of environmental documents were completed allowing for further improvements to be built. These documents included evaluations of the Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center Project, the Girard Siding Environmental Assessment (EA), and the Elkhart Siding EA, among others.

Learn more about these documents »

Public Outreach

In 2013, IDOT, the ICC, the UP railroad, and members of the Program team made presentations to key stakeholders, held a number of public meetings, addressed the media, and attended local events throughout the Corridor.


Demonstration Run and Dwight to Pontiac Service

After a successful demonstration run on October 19, 2012, higher speed service began for revenue service operation between Dwight and Pontiac on November 22, 2012.

Record of Decision (ROD) & Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

As a result of the 2004 Record of Decision (ROD), Illinois' signature passenger rail route, Chicago to St. Louis, was selected by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for $1.1 billion for corridor improvements between Dwight and St. Louis. These improvements include upgraded track built and maintained to 110 miles per hour standards, siding and crossovers, grade crossing surfaces, signals and warning system, stations, and new high-speed passenger trains.

As a result of the FRA's $1.25 million funding selection, the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study for the full build out (a second mainline track) began in late Fall 2010. The Final EIS was submitted to the FRA in October 2012. The ROD was signed in December 2012. This study determined routing alternatives for Chicago to Dwight, through Springfield and the approach to St. Louis.

Learn more about the Tier 1 EIS »

Public Outreach

Throughout 2012, IDOT, the ICC, the UP railroad, and members of the Program team participated in a number of local events throughout the Corridor. They also were available to provide presentations to key stakeholders. A number of public meetings also were held throughout the Corridor in order to inform residents and interested persons about the Program.

Fast Facts:

Since 2010, the Project has completed the following tasks:

  • Installed over 660 track miles of new rail
  • Installed 881,093new concrete ties
  • Spread 2,089,346 tons of stone ballast
  • Renewal of 211 crossing surfaces and approaches
  • Permanently closed 39 crossings
  • Provided railroad safety presentations to over 4,800 students
  • Held over 330 stakeholder events
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