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wildchicken13

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 19, 2022
Messages
42
I am a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During breaks, I ride the Amtrak Illini and Saluki trains to and from my home in the suburbs of Chicago. On my way back to school in January we were flying through the South Side of Chicago and that got me wondering what is the maximum speed on that line. It felt like we must have been going at least 90 miles per hour but I did some research and I could not find any information about the speed limit on that line. The train consisted of several Superliner cars pulled by a lone Amtrak Midwest Siemens SC-44 Charger. I would appreciate any insights that you can provide.
 

wildchicken13

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 19, 2022
Messages
42
By looking at this (Train Details) it seems like the top speed is 79 (although it looks like the train hit 80 at one point -- although the limit is 79)
Thanks, Cal! How are you getting the top speed, though? I looked at the time intervals between stops and came up with the following numbers:

Chicago to Homewood — 24 miles in 44 minutes = 33 mph
Homewood to Kankakee — 33 miles in 29 minutes = 68 mph
Kankakee to Gilman — 25 miles in 23 minutes = 65 mph
Gilman to Rantoul — 33 miles in 28 minutes = 71 mph
Rantoul to Champaign — 14 miles in 14 minutes = 60 mph
Champaign to Mattoon — 44 miles in 40 minutes = 66 mph
Mattoon to Effingham — 27 miles in 23 minutes = 70 mph
Effingham to Centralia — 53 miles in 48 minutes = 66 mph
Centralia to Du Quoin — 36 miles in 33 minutes = 65 mph
Du Quoin to Carbondale — 20 miles in 24 minutes = 50 mph

Obviously these are just average speeds, so 79 miles per hour sounds quite reasonable to me. My hometown is along the route of the Hiawatha Service and the Empire Builder and I know for a fact that the speed limit on the Chicago to Milwaukee part of the line is 79 miles per hour for passenger trains and 60 for freight so it would make sense that the same would be true of the Chicago to Carbondale line.

Thank you for your insights!
 

Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,841
Location
Socal
Thanks, Cal! How are you getting the top speed, though?
If you click the link I sent and scroll down you will see a map with a lot of circles along the route that the train in question took. Each dot is a point where information (time, speed, and direction) was updated. If you click them it will show the speed at that time.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
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LAX
By looking at this (Train Details) it seems like the top speed is 79 (although it looks like the train hit 80 at one point -- although the limit is 79)
Allowing for GPS and other errors, 80 is within the speed tolerance (whatever that is) for 79 mph.
We rode the Illini and Saluki between Chicago and Mattoon in 2018 and looking at my saved GPS tracklogs for that trip. 79 or so is about right for portions of that segment.
 

Deni

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 11, 2008
Messages
418
I am a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During breaks, I ride the Amtrak Illini and Saluki trains to and from my home in the suburbs of Chicago. On my way back to school in January we were flying through the South Side of Chicago and that got me wondering what is the maximum speed on that line. It felt like we must have been going at least 90 miles per hour but I did some research and I could not find any information about the speed limit on that line. The train consisted of several Superliner cars pulled by a lone Amtrak Midwest Siemens SC-44 Charger. I would appreciate any insights that you can provide.
There are speed apps you can download to your phone that you can use the next time you ride and see in real time how fast you're going. I used one when I was on a trip out east on the Hartford Line, was surprised to see that there were portions on that line that topped 100 mph.
 

daybeers

Conductor
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
1,602
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NHV
There are speed apps you can download to your phone that you can use the next time you ride and see in real time how fast you're going. I used one when I was on a trip out east on the Hartford Line, was surprised to see that there were portions on that line that topped 100 mph.
Yes, there are a few miles of 110 between Hartford and Berlin, 100 between Berlin and Meriden, and south of Wallingford has some 85.
 

wildchicken13

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 19, 2022
Messages
42
Once they hit (southbound, but the speed is similar northbound) the mainline after McPlace, they are certainly going more than 33 MPH! The CONO speeds through as well.

And yes, I know that's average speed and the air line slows them down...
I think it is the backup move out of Union Station that really kills the average, but like you said once the train gets south of McCormick Place it picks up a lot of speed and that is what got me wondering what the speed limit is on the line in the first place, we were going faster than a lot of the cars on Lake Shore Drive!
 

Deni

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 11, 2008
Messages
418
Yes, there are a few miles of 110 between Hartford and Berlin, 100 between Berlin and Meriden, and south of Wallingford has some 85.
Was that speed achieved only after all the work CT did on the line these last many years? I lived in NYC in the mid-aughts and we used to go to Springfield, MA all the time to see my wife's family and I don't remember it ever booking like that. I knew there was a bunch of double-tracking that was done but didn't know the speed got better.
 

daybeers

Conductor
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Jan 6, 2016
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Was that speed achieved only after all the work CT did on the line these last many years? I lived in NYC in the mid-aughts and we used to go to Springfield, MA all the time to see my wife's family and I don't remember it ever booking like that. I knew there was a bunch of double-tracking that was done but didn't know the speed got better.
Yes, that was for the start of the Hartford Line service. Only the Amtrak trains can take advantage of those speeds, as the engines and cars the CTrail trains use are only rated for 80. The increased speeds don't make much of a difference, but enough so that the time in the schedule for them is annoyingly shorter than the other trains. The Vermonter skips Wallingford and Berlin, so it helps speed that up, but I think it was mostly so they could use funding for a "high-speed rail" project. Hey, if Florida didn't want it... There are still some slow spots, particularly south of Springfield, around Hartford, through Meriden and Wallingford, and approaching Mill River in New Haven, but otherwise it's 79+.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
728
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Lubec, ME
Yes, that was for the start of the Hartford Line service. Only the Amtrak trains can take advantage of those speeds, as the engines and cars the CTrail trains use are only rated for 80. The increased speeds don't make much of a difference, but enough so that the time in the schedule for them is annoyingly shorter than the other trains. The Vermonter skips Wallingford and Berlin, so it helps speed that up, but I think it was mostly so they could use funding for a "high-speed rail" project. Hey, if Florida didn't want it... There are still some slow spots, particularly south of Springfield, around Hartford, through Meriden and Wallingford, and approaching Mill River in New Haven, but otherwise it's 79+.
Unfortunately Hartford can't get fixed until the I-84 relocation happens and then the station and the approaches to it can be fixed and 2nd track added etc. Who knows when that will happen.
 
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