Lawmakers Push Amtrak to Add More Trains

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By Nick Hausen

CARBONDALE -- Two Illinois lawmakers want Amtrak to add trains from Carbondale to Chicago. Ridership on the route has more than doubled since 2006.

Hundreds of people step off the train at the Amtrak station in Carbondale every day, many of them coming from Chicago. Passengers say they're seeing more and more people ride the train.

"All the seats are taken, you've got to get your ticket early if you want to get a good price because they now price them like airlines where, the longer you wait they'll sell out of the cheap tickets," said Amtrak passenger Cathie Paull.

The route between Carbondale, Champaign, and Chicago is one of the fastest growing in the country, because it's more economical than driving.

"The cost of driving your car, even beyond gasoline," explained Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari. "The cost of parking here in Chicago, the cost of tolls, if you're going to those parts of Chicago that are controlled by toll bridges or toll ways."

The number of people taking the train between Chicago and Carbondale has grown to nearly 400,000 passengers. That's why U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Governor Pat Quinn are pushing to add trains. Amtrak has been looking into adding more midday trains for years.

"Certainly the encouragement of both Governor Quinn and Senator Durbin to move along on this is helpful to all of us," said Magliari. "We do have issues with the folks who own the tracks, CN. And we do have some issues with how their handling our trains."

Just last week, Senator Durbin requested a federal investigation into Canadian National for delaying Amtrak trains. Magliari says fixing those delays is the first step to getting more trains along the route.

Right now, three trains a day depart Carbondale for Chicago.

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