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Amtrak adds two more daily STL-Chicago trains

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By AP/KWMU

Carbondale, Ill. – Amtrak is adding two more trains from St. Louis to Chicago next month.

The state of Illinois is spending $24 million more this year to support the train service, which will let the carrier add seven daily trains from Chicago to downstate.

The announcement was made Monday in Carbondale, where a new line called the Saluki will be added. The saluki is the mascot of Southern Illinois University. Names for the new trains to St. Louis and Quincy have not been announced. The new service begins October 30th.

In all, the money will support seven round-trip trains from Chicago to St. Louis, Carbondale and Quincy, up from three trains now.

For the cities along those routes, more trains mean more connection to Chicago something that can help local businesses and even attract new ones. "We would definitely use that as a marketing tool to demonstrate a little more accessibility and convenience, both for the businesses and their customers," said Charles Bell, manager of the entrepreneurship center at Quincy's Great River Economic Development Foundation.

The current Amtrak schedule is terribly inconvenient for Quincy travelers, he said. The most practical arrangement is to go up one day, attend meetings the next and come home on a third day. But the new service should make shorter trips more feasible, Bell said.

Jeff Doherty, the city manager in Carbondale, said travelers there no longer will have to choose between leaving for Chicago at 3 a.m. or at 4 p.m. Now there will be a much more useful 7:30 a.m. option. Businesses will take advantage of the new train, he said, but it's most important for college students.

Southern Illinois University attracts many students from the Chicago area. Easier travel to and from Chicago will keep them coming to Carbondale and keep the university healthy, Doherty said.

St. Louis will have three state-supported trains to and from Chicago, up from one now. In addition, Amtrak has other trains passing through St. Louis that don't get any state support.

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