PONTIAC, ILL. – Town officials were joined by state and Amtrak representatives on June 5, 2017, to dedicate a new $2.65 million station in Pontiac, Ill. Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle began making regular stops the following day, relocating from the old Chicago & Alton Railroad depot one block north. This is the latest in a series of new or renovated passenger facilities planned by the state of Illinois between Chicago and St. Louis as part of a multi-year program to enhance rail service on the busy corridor. A new station opened in Dwight in October 2016, and others will soon be completed in Lincoln, Carlinville and Alton.
“I am very excited about what the new station means to the city of Pontiac. The station along with the new parking will be a real benefit to the Amtrak customers of the area. Additionally, it will enhance the experience of the tourists visiting Pontiac on the train.” – Pontiac Mayor Robert T. Russell.
During the celebration, Illinois DOT (IDOT) Secretary Randy Blankenhorn remarked, “After years of construction along one of the busiest passenger rail corridors in the country, the benefits are beginning to show with beautiful new stations in our state’s great communities. This building will become a centerpiece of downtown Pontiac and provide travelers a safer, more reliable and convenient option to get to where they want to go.”
The new 1,350 square foot depot is a contemporary structure of red brick interspersed with large expanses of glass. Both ends of the slim building include dramatically angled walls, which are echoed in the peaked seamed-metal roof. In addition to an enclosed waiting room, there is also an open-air waiting area for use during the warmer months. A new, accessible concrete platform includes a detectable warning strip, and customers may enjoy free Wi-Fi while waiting for trains.
Under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program, the state of Illinois received $1.2 billion to improve the vital Chicago-St. Louis rail corridor so that passenger trains will be able to attain regular speeds of 110 mph. When completed this year, the upgraded line is expected to present an even stronger transportation alternative for drivers along the congested Interstate 55 corridor. Construction of the Pontiac station was funded under the HSIPR.
Pontiac is served by seven daily Lincoln Service (Chicago-St. Louis) trains and the twice daily Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio-(Los Angeles)). In fiscal year 2016, more than 15,000 people began or ended their journey at the Pontiac station. That same year, the Lincoln Service, financed primarily through funds made available by IDOT, carried nearly 549,000 customers.