CARBONDALE - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that beginning October 30th, Illinois’ partnership with Amtrak will more than double state-sponsored passenger rail service downstate. State-supported roundtrips will increase from three daily roundtrips to seven daily roundtrips between Chicago and downstate destinations – including the Saluki, the new Chicago-Carbondale train. The expanded service comes after news that all state-sponsored Amtrak routes posted record ridership levels for Illinois’ Fiscal Year 2006; the expansion includes an additional round-trip on the Chicago-Carbondale line. Tickets for the new routes go on sale today.
“Amtrak is an affordable travel option, and in many communities it’s the only form of public transportation,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “People want and use Amtrak; that’s why we doubled our commitment to ensuring we have regular passenger rail service. During the past several years we’ve continued to see an increase in the people riding the Illinois state-sponsored trains.”
Starting October 30, daily train service between Chicago and Carbondale will increase from two round-trips to three round-trips, two of them state-sponsored. Under this schedule, there will be new morning departures from Chicago and Carbondale
“We are proud that ridership on state-supported Amtrak trains in Illinois is now nearly a million passengers and growing,” said Alex Kummant, Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer. “We deeply appreciate the leadership of Gov. Blagojevich and the state legislature in continuing the strong partnership with Amtrak to provide more frequent service for the people of Illinois.”
This spring, Gov. Blagojevich and the Illinois General Assembly increased state funding for passenger rail service by Amtrak from $12.1 million to $24 million.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), which is the partnering agency with Amtrak, has chosen the Saluki as the name of the new Chicago-Carbondale train. The Illini will continue to operate on its current schedule on the route. Combined with the City of New Orleans, another train that is part of the national Amtrak network, three daily round-trips will be available between Chicago and Carbondale.
Reservations and tickets for the Saluki (Trains 390 & 391) and Illini (Trains 392 & 393) are now available nationwide through Amtrak.com, by calling 800-USA-RAIL, using Quik-Trak, automated ticket machines, visiting a staffed Amtrak station, or through select travel agents.
These state-supported trains will operate as reserved service, with the lowest fares ordinarily available with the most advanced purchase, and offer food and beverages in the café car. Ten-ride tickets will also be available, as will Business class in a two-seats/aisle/one-seat configuration with leg rests, foot rests and other amenities for a slight surcharge.
IDOT and Amtrak will soon announce schedules for increased service on the two other state-sponsored corridors, Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Quincy. Daily train service between Chicago and St. Louis will increase from three roundtrips to five roundtrips, three of them state-sponsored. Daily train service between Chicago and Quincy will increase from one round-trip to two round-trips, both of those state-sponsored as well.