All Aboard: Amtrak to Chicago Is Saved Illinois Picks Up Tab to Keep 3 Routes Alive

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A round-trip Amtrak train between St. Louis and Chicago scheduled to cease operation June 11 will stay on track for the rest of the year.

Gov. Jim Edgar announced Friday that the state would assume the entire cost - $2.3 million - of operating state-supported Amtrak passenger trains along three routes in Illinois until 1996.

The move reinstates the Loop line between Springfield and Chicago, except for Saturdays, and the State House line between Springfield and St. Louis. Both were slated to stop running as part of a nationwide cutback in service announced by Amtrak in April.

Passengers will also have to pay more for their fares to keep the lines open. The price of a round-trip ticket from St. Louis to Chicago will rise to $64 from $49; a round-trip ticket from St. Louis to Springfield will jump to about $42 from $32; and a round-trip fair from Springfield to Chicago will rise to $49 from $44.

Amtrak had been facing a $240 million shortfall in its budget and had been warned to expect no increase in the nearly $1 billion in federal subsidies it receives.

Faced with bankruptcy by midsummer, Amtrak announced in April that it was stopping the State House and Loop routes, and cutting service to four days a week on two other trains, the Illinois Zephyr connecting Chicago to Quincy and the Illini between Chicago and Carbondale. …