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Safety system among last features to be installed on Chicago-St. Louis high-speed line


CHICAGO — A safety feature that slows trains traveling dangerously fast is one of the last components that must be installed before a Chicago-St. Louis high-speed line becomes operational, officials said.

Springfield's State Journal-Register ( cited a state Department of Transportation spokesman as saying the system is required under an agreement with the U.S. government.

The GPS-reliant system, known as positive train control, was in the news in the wake of the recent Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia. Experts have said it could have prevented the crash that killed eight.

The system is already installed on the Dwight-to-Pontiac section of the Illinois line, said Mike Stead, a manager of the rail safety program at the Illinois Commerce Commission. Once installed in its entirety, the Chicago-St. Louis line will be among the first major routes with it outside the Northeast, he added.

The largely federally funded project to upgrade the line should enable trains to reach speeds of 110 mph on most of the route, reducing travel times for the 284-mile journey to less than four hours.

The U.S. government is covering $1.6 billion of the $1.8 billion cost of the project, with Illinois footing the rest of the bill. Illinois transportation officials say about $800 million has been spent already.

Faster trains are scheduled to run along the entire corridor by 2017. While Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he will review state spending on high-speed rail, no changes to project timetables have yet been announced.

Information from: The State Journal-Register,

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