It has long been the Cold Spring Shops position that Passenger Rail is more likely to succeed by increments, with increased frequencies and provision of 110 to 125 mph capacity on existing tracks, rather than going immediately to the more expensive bullet trains. Observers in some more visible places are catching on.
In the meantime, riders on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor may take solace in the fact that Amtrak expects to begin offering regular 110 mph service on that 15-mile stretch by Thanksgiving and on 75 percent of the route by 2015, cutting trip times by more than an hour.

“The difference between 79 and 110 mph isn't necessarily all that much, but at 110, the number of people they can carry improves dramatically,” said Rod Diridon Sr., executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. “At that point, it really begins to compete with short-hop air travel.”
There's not much in the way of short-hop air service between Chicago and Bloomington or Springfield, or St. Louis and Joliet, at least not within the budget constraints of  Illinois State University or Washington University collegians, who swarm the Alton Route at Thanksgiving.  Additional frequencies at the faster running times, and better connectivity with the other corridors, will also help.

Business class seats in or out of Springfield are often hard to come by, as the Lincoln Service is the preferred route to the capital of Chicago politicians.  Heck, Rod Blagojevich might have viewed the ferroequinologists as important voters, given the use he made of the trains.

Free rein to 110, faster, please.

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