Today, October 19th, Amtrack trains will perform test runs, traveling at 110 mph between Chicago and St. Louis.
This 30-mph speed increase from the route’s current top speed is performed to demonstrate conservatives that investing in train projects, which they consider expensive boondoggles, is not a minor and useless move. Some rail experts doubt that the route will manage to compete with air and automobile travel and become profitable, or reach speeds comparable with the Asian and European bullet trains which travel with 150 mph and more.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will be on board when the Amtrak train will reach 110 mph on the 15-mile route between Dwight and Pontiac, before it gets back to the current accepted speeds.
“The important thing is it’s a step in the right direction, but the question becomes what do we gain by doing this?” said David Burns, a rail consultant in suburban Chicago who drew up one of the first studies for high-speed service on the route more than three decades ago.
Back in 2009 President Obama said that a mature high-speed rail network will help the nation cut more than 6 billion pounds of CO2 emissions (equivalent with removing 1 million cars from the roads) and reduce dependence on foreign oil. In 2011 Amtrak ridership reached a record number of 30 million passengers nationwide.