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$4 million Lincoln train station latest to open in Illinois

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Wednesday, December 6, 2017  |  Article  |  By Benjamin Yount

Railroads (77) , Trains (77) , Transportation (91)
Illinois leaders are cooing over the latest Amtrak station to open in the state. But even the beautiful new station in Lincoln won't solve the complaint from the city's mayor or the top man at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

It says something that as leaders in Lincoln were getting ready to cut the ribbon on the city's brand new $4 million train station that a train arrived ... about an hour late.

Local and state leaders say the train station is a wonderful addition to the high-speed rail project in Illinois. Lincoln is the latest city to get a new station; Carlinville will open its station next week.

But even IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says new stations don't make up for the extra half hour, or hour, that people have to wait for their train.

"What's frustrating is having to wait," Blankenhorn said. "The service is great. The experience is wonderful. If it's on time, people are going to use it."

Amtrak trains in Illinois are on time about 70 percent of the time.

Blankenhorn says 22,000 people a year will use the $4 million Lincoln station.

The new station is part of the state's nearly $2 billion high speed rail project. IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said every downstate station outside of Springfield will be upgraded by next spring with a price tag of another $50 million.

Blankenhorn said that's on top of the millions that Illinois spends each year just to keep the trains running.

"This year's budget has $50 million as our share of the cost to run the trains for Amtrak," Blakenhorn said. "Which is for all of the trains except for the Texas Eagle, which goes all the way down to Texas."

The new stop in Lincoln includes two brand new buildings, a smaller station and a new depot that Lincoln Mayor Seth Goodman says officials don't know what they are going to do with just yet.

"I would like to see something in this building that will attract people to the area," Goodman said. "That's what this building is for. People are coming here from all over the world. So we want to make sure that what they see here gives them a full glimpse of what we have to offer here in Lincoln."