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Location: Middleburg (Jacksonville), Florida, United States

Published in Trains magazine, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Amtrak’s Saluki starts in October

Beginning October 30, Amtrak will more than double Illinois state-sponsored passenger rail service. The roundtrips will increase from three daily roundtrips to seven between Chicago and downstate destinations - including the Saluki, the new Chicago-Carbondale train.

A saluki is an ancient breed of tall, slender dog developed in Arabia and Egypt with a smooth, silky, variously colored coat.

Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich said yesterday that 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.

Blagojevich said, “Amtrak is an affordable travel option, and in many communities it’s the only form of public transportation.”

Last spring, the Illinois General Assembly increased state funding for passenger rail service by Amtrak from $12.1 million to $24 million.

The Illinois DOT (IDOT), which is the partnering agency with Amtrak, has chosen the Saluki as the name of the new Chicago-Carbondale train. Another train, the Illini, will continue to operate on its current schedule on the route. So will the City of New Orleans, the third train.

The state-supported trains will operate as reserved service, stated Amtrak in a press release, 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

Still ahead are the 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, three of them state-sponsored. Daily train service between Chicago and Quincy will increase from one round-trip to two round-trips, also state-sponsored.

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