[AUG. 25, 2005] SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of
Transportation and Amtrak announced Wednesday that all the trains
Amtrak runs under contract with the Illinois Department of
Transportation moved a record number of passengers in the state's
2005 fiscal year. Three trains -- the Chicago-St. LouisState
House, the Chicago-Carbondale Illini and the Chicago-Milwaukee
Hiawatha Service -- posted double-digit increases, while the fourth
state-assisted train, the Chicago-Quincy Illinois Zephyr, reported a
ridership increase of almost 8 percent.
"This goes to show that passenger rail is an integral part of our
transportation system, providing an affordable alternative to flying
and driving," said Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary
Timothy W. Martin. "Even as the federal government debates the
elimination of funding for Amtrak, more and more people are turning
to passenger rail as their preferred method of travel. This is clear
evidence that passenger rail is a portion of our transportation
system we can't do without."
All state-sponsored trains posted
record levels of ridership. In figures calculated by the Department
of Transportation for the period of July 2004 through June 2005, the
Chicago-St. Louis train posted an increase of 10.86 percent, to
120,852; Chicago-Carbondale was up 10.9 percent, to 121,311; and
Chicago-Quincy rose 7.6 percent, to 113,086. Figures for those
routes include only the trains supported by the Illinois Department
The Chicago-Milwaukee service had an increase to 494,075
passengers, up by 10.98 percent from last year's 439,865. The
Hiawathas, run by Amtrak, are sponsored by the Wisconsin Department
of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Transportation.
"Working together as partners to market and maintain passenger
rail in Illinois is paying off," said Bruce Hillblom, Amtrak senior
principal, contract administration -- Midwest states. "We are seeing
across-the-board increases in passengers. 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 Illinois Department of Transportation and Amtrak jointly
sponsor regular meetings with community coalitions that work to
market and otherwise support the downstate services.
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 2005 fiscal year,
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
For more information about the Illini, State House, Hiawatha
Service, Illinois Zephyr or other Amtrak services, call (800)
USA-RAIL [1 (800) 872-7245] or visit the