On a stretch of rail between two towns in Illinois, the dream of high-speed rail in the Midwest will soon become a reality, if only for 14 miles.
The Naperville Sun reports that the first segment of 110 miles per hour rail running between the village of Dwight and the city of Pontiac will be tested later this month. Eventually it will be the first section of track operating at 110 mph. Currently the maximum speed for the route is around 80 mph.
The addition will be part of Amtrak's high-speed rail corridor that runs from Chicago to St. Louis. The rest of the route is expected to be upgraded over the next four to five years. However, The State Journal-Register reports that its completion will depend on funding and federal approval of “positive train control” technology that will allow trains go faster.
But is 110 mph really high-speed rail? Generally, high-speed rail is defined as trains reaching sustained minimum speeds between 125 mph and 150 mph.
The upgrades are a step in the right direction. “IDOT is studying the potential for higher speeds,” Kirk Brown, former IDOT secretary, told the Daily Herald. “(110 mph) can be implemented in the short term and be a staging point for other things.”
Currently, the fastest train in the United States is Amtrak's Acela Express. The train travels between Washington, D.C. and New York City and has a top speed of 150 mph. It is the only train service in the U.S. that travels over 125 mph. Amtrak recently announced a plan to increase train speeds along the northeast corridor to 220 mph.