Tuesday, Aug. 17


Numbers up on Illinois-supported passenger trains     Send a link to a friend

Three of four Amtrak services post double-digit increases

[AUG. 17, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Transportation and Amtrak announced Monday that all of the trains Amtrak runs under contract with the Illinois Department of Transportation posted gains during the state's fiscal year 2004. Three trains -- the State House, between Chicago and St. Louis; the Illini, between Chicago and Carbondale, and the Hiawatha Service, between Chicago and Carbondale -- posted double-digit increases. The fourth state-assisted train, the Illinois Zephyr, between Chicago and Quincy, reported its highest ridership numbers in a decade.

"Passenger rail is an integral part of our transportation system; for many towns along these routes it's the only form of public transportation," said Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Timothy W. Martin. "These increased numbers show there continues to be a demand for passenger rail."

All state-sponsored trains posted increased ridership, illustrating that passenger rail is an important transportation alternative for the people of Illinois. The Chicago-St. Louis train posted an increase of 12.3 percent, Chicago-Carbondale was up 11.9 percent, and Chicago-Quincy rose 8.6 percent in figures calculated by the Department of Transportation for the period of July 2003 through June 2004. Figures include only the trains supported by the Department of Transportation on those routes.

"Working together as partners to market and maintain passenger rail in Illinois is paying off. We are seeing across-the-board increases in passengers," said Bruce Hillblom, Amtrak senior principal in charge of contract administration in the Midwestern states. "We believe these ridership gains demonstrate we are providing a convenient, comfortable and economically viable transportation alternative that is attractive to the traveling public."

The Department of Transportation and Amtrak jointly sponsor regular meetings with community coalitions that work to market and otherwise support the downstate services.


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The Chicago-Quincy and Chicago-Carbondale trains posted their highest ridership numbers in the past 10 years. Passenger totals on the Carbondale trains were 108,099, up from 96,595 in fiscal year 2003. The Quincy trains had a total of 104,516, an increase of 8,256 from the prior year. Ridership on the Chicago-St. Louis trains increased to 107,732 in fiscal 2004, up from last year's total of 95,933.

The Chicago-Milwaukee service had an increase to total 439,865 passengers, up by 12.8 percent from last year's 389,787. The Hiawathas, run by Amtrak, are sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The state of Illinois and Amtrak partner on the three downstate routes to ensure that regular passenger rail service continues to be offered throughout Illinois. During the state's fiscal year 2004, the Department of Transportation's contribution to maintaining regular service on the four routes was approximately $12 million. The General Assembly recently approved spending the same amount in Illinois' fiscal year 2005. Amtrak and the Department of Transportation are in the process of working out the details of a new contract to cover the new fiscal year.

For more information about the Illini, State House, Hiawatha Service, Illinois Zephyr or other Amtrak services, call (800) USA-RAIL or visit www.amtrak.com.

[Illinois Department of Transportation
news release]

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