ST. LOUIS – An Illinois lawmaker makes his case for a faster high-speed rail service between Chicago and St. Louis, specifically a route that could cut most commutes by car or train almost in half.

Illinois U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Cook County) recently authored an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune in which he proposed the thought of a “two and a half” hour rail service between St. Louis and the Windy City.

Quigley’s remarks come nearly a year after AMTRAK increased its maximum speeds on its St. Louis-Chicago route to 110 mph. AMTRAK officials say the route currently takes around five hours.

A drive from St. Louis to Chicago, without any unusual setbacks, is usually around 4 hours and 40 minutes, according to Google Maps.

Those numbers support Quigley’s vision in pushing for a new high-speed rail service: To save time in a world where it’s increasingly precious.

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“The Midwest has a number of major cities all within a day’s drive, providing an excellent geographic canvas for the building of an effective passenger rail network,” said Quigley in the op-ed. “This network could connect people and economies in a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly way.”

He cites a project from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, one that offers the promise of a 200-mph passenger train by 2028, as an example of progress within public transportation.

It appears Illinois has already given some consideration into the idea. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation in 2021 to create the Illinois High-Speed Rail Commission. Through 2027, the commission will conduct ridership studies and offer recommendations on ways to improve high-speed rail service.

Missouri would inevitably factor in the St. Louis leg of the route, though the state’s support of such a hypothetical change is unclear. According to the High Speed Rail Alliance, a comprehensive state plan suggests that several cross-state routes could be explored, but funding could be a hurdle.

One previous effort in Missouri, a proposed Hyperloop route from St. Louis to Kansas City, fell through after Hyperloop announced it was shutting down last December.

Quigley seems optimistic that a faster Chicago-to-St. Louis route would benefit not only Illinois, but the Midwest as a whole.

“The path forward is clear: Illinois should continue to improve its current rail infrastructure and better integrate that system into our transit network while laying the groundwork for a high-speed rail future,” said Quigley.