Illinois will acquire new rail cars for all of the in-state Amtrak routes. Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said the new cars will address the increase in ridership experienced by the service for the past five or six years.
“They're going to be bi-level cars,” Schneider said. “It allows us to transport more passengers on the same footprint, so it makes it more efficient and it gives us opportunity to expand service without having to add train sets.”
Schneider expects to start adding the new cars in 2015-16. All current cars have single-level seating.
She said the new cars also will greatly improve the passenger experience. “It's going to provide wi-fi opportunities for students that are traveling between here (Macomb) and Chicago, for instance,” said Schneider.
She said the new cars won't cost the state any money because they'll be paid for through the federal stimulus program.
Schneider said the state still plans to add lines from Chicago to the Quad Cities and to Dubuque, Iowa, and she was just recently made aware of the desire to extend the Chicago-to-Quincy line down to Hannibal, Mo.
“I think those connections with other states are going to be that very next step that we take. So we'll be talking to Missouri DOT and getting their sense of how they would like to see that proceed,” Schneider said.