Construction on the next phase of the Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail route and the first of three Michigan track improvement phases along the Wolverine route will begin this month, Amtrak officials announced earlier this week.
On the Chicago-St. Louis route, the Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad will begin the second of three phases of 2013 upgrades for future 110 mph operation of Amtrak Lincoln Service trains, according to an Amtrak press release.
To begin the week of Sept. 16, work will include installation of new premium rail with concrete ties and stone ballast; upgrades to bridges, culverts and drainage; installation of and upgrades to signal and wayside equipment; and improvements to grade crossings. The projects will enable Amtrak to increase train speed from the current 79 mph to 110 mph.
Meanwhile, in Michigan, track improvements on the Wolverine line will begin on Sept. 9 as part of the Accelerated Rail Program being carried out by Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). When track work is completed on all three phases by November, crews will have installed more than 30 miles of new track and 130,000 crossties, Amtrak officials said.
"We are condensing a lot of improvement work that was anticipated over the next two construction seasons into 12 to 14 weeks this fall," said MDOT Rail Operations Manager Al Johnson.
MDOT is leading a three-state effort to improve the 300-mile corridor, which runs from Pontiac and Detroit across Michigan, through northwest Indiana, to Chicago. The infrastructure improvements will enable Amtrak trains in mid-Michigan to reach speeds of 110 mph, as they do now along 80 miles in southwestern Michigan and in part of Indiana.
A project goal is to reduce travel time between Detroit and Chicago by about 2 hours from the current 6.5 hours.
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