Train 305 a Lincoln service train leaves Chicago for St. Louis on National Train Day, May 8, 2009.

(Russell Sekeet, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Lincoln Service is a 284-mile (457 km) higher-speed rail service operated by Amtrak that runs between Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri. The train is a part of the Illinois Service and is partially funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The train uses the same route as the long-distance Texas Eagle, which continues to San Antonio and Los Angeles. A connection with the Kansas City-bound Missouri River Runner is available in St. Louis.

As of December 2021, the average trip time between Chicago and St. Louis was 5 hours 17 minutes. Future infrastructure upgrades are expected to reduce the time to under 4 hours.

During fiscal year 2016 (ending September 2016), the Lincoln Service trains carried 548,955 passengers, a decrease of 4.8% from FY2015. The service had a total revenue of $14,266,964, a decrease of 1.3% from FY2015.


Lincoln Service map.

(National Atlas (map); Pi.1415926535 (tracing and design), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



Prior to the Lincoln Service, Amtrak had operated the daily State House train between Chicago and St. Louis since 1973. Originally intended to connect Chicago and Springfield, Amtrak extended the State House south to St. Louis at its own expense because Springfield station was not designed to turn equipment. The train used a route previously owned by the Alton Railroad, which had merged with the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad (GM&O) in 1947. The GM&O merged with the Illinois Central Railroad in 1972, a year after Amtrak took over passenger train service.

On October 30, 2006, Amtrak rebranded the State House as the Lincoln Service upon the addition of two new round trips, made possible by upgrades to the line. This resulted in a total of five daily round trips on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, including the Texas Eagle and Ann Rutledge, which terminated beyond St. Louis. Beginning in April 2007, the Ann Rutledge operated only between Kansas City and St. Louis, where it connected once daily to the Lincoln Service. The Ann Rutledge was folded into the Missouri River Runner in 2009, though one Lincoln Service round trip continued to connect with the Missouri River Runner. On May 23, 2022, Amtrak began through-routing one round trip of the Missouri River Runner and Lincoln Service, creating a second one-seat service between Kansas City and Chicago (additional to the Southwest Chief, which takes a more direct route.)


Track upgrades

In July 2010, the state of Illinois and the Union Pacific Railroad reached an agreement under which track speeds between Dwight and Alton, Illinois were to be raised to as high as 110 miles per hour (177 km/h). This speed will cut the travel time between Chicago and St. Louis by 90 minutes, bringing the trip to under four hours. The first track upgrade construction was planned to be between Alton and Lincoln, Illinois and was projected to cost $98 million. The construction on this stretch began on September 17, 2010, in Alton and was completed in 2011. Most of the funding came from $1.1 billion in stimulus money for Illinois high-speed rail from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The remainder of this grant, as well as $400 million in funding from the state of Illinois, was used to complete a high-speed rail corridor for the remaining portions of the St. Louis–Chicago track. Senator Dick Durbin suggested the Dwight–Alton upgrades would create some 900 jobs, while the overall project could generate 24,000.

On March 22, 2011, an announcement was made in Chicago that an additional $685 million would be used to upgrade trackage and grade crossings between Dwight and Lincoln. Construction on the improvement project began on April 5, 2011.

Although much of track upgrade work was completed between 2010 and 2012, there are additional constructions including second trackage, bridge replacement and rehabilitation, drainage improvements, and grade crossings and signal improvements before the full 110-mile-per-hour (177 km/h) service can be fully operated on this route. After all required improvements on the first 15-mile (24 km) segment between Dwight and Pontiac, Illinois were completed, Amtrak started the higher-speed rail service with top speeds of 110 miles per hour (177 km/h) on that segment in November 2012, with the entire section between Alton and Joliet expected to have 110-mile-per-hour (177 km/h) operation by 2017.

Starting on July 7, 2021, Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains were allowed a top speed of 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) after Federal Railroad Administration dual certification of the Incremental Train Control System and Interoperable Electronic Train Management System between south of Joliet Union Station and Alton, Illinois. On December 13, 2021, scheduled travel times were reduced by approximately 15 minutes between St. Louis and Chicago as a result of the increased speeds. Amtrak began testing the line for 110 mph (177 km/h) revenue service in 2022. Effective May 3, 2023, trains are authorized to travel up to 110 mph (177 km/h) on the line, while new schedules are written for the line. The new schedules debuted on June 26, 2023.

The slowest portion of the corridor is the segment between Chicago and Joliet, but improving this would require an additional $1.5 billion investment. Two projects proposed from the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE) would remove two diamond crossings and construct an overpass to increase train speed and eliminate delays. One project is in the preliminary design phase while the proposed flyover at Brighton Park crossing is unfunded. As of 2022, an alternative solution rerouting trains via the Rock Island District, which bypasses these diamond crossings and has relatively few freight trains, is being considered. This option would reduce delays and allow higher speeds between Joliet and Chicago.


Illinois Zephyr (left) and Lincoln Service trains at Chicago Union Station in 2018.

(Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)




A Lincoln Service train consists of the following:

One or two Siemens SC-44 locomotives
Three to seven Amfleet, Horizon Fleet, or Venture coaches
One Amfleet or Horizon Fleet cafe/business car


The Metra Heritage Corridor commuter line uses the same route from Joliet to Union Station.

One daily Lincoln Service round trip (train 318/319) is coupled with the Missouri River Runner at St. Louis, providing a one-seat ride between Chicago and Kansas City. Additionally, one southbound Lincoln Service (train 301) runs express to St. Louis with stops only at Joliet, Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, and Alton.


Station stops

State Town/City Station Connections
IL Chicago Chicago Union Station  Amtrak (long-distance): California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Empire Builder, Lake Shore Limited, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle  Amtrak (intercity): Blue Water, Hiawatha, Illini and Saluki, Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg, Pere Marquette, Wolverine Metra: ■ BNSF, ■ Milwaukee District North, ■ Milwaukee District West, ■ North Central Service, ■ Heritage Corridor, ■ SouthWest Service Chicago "L": Blue (at Clinton), Brown Orange Pink Purple (at Quincy) CTA Bus: 1, 7, J14, 19, 28, 56, 60, 120, 121, 124, 125, 126, 128, 130, 151, 156, 157, 192 Pace Bus: 755 Plainfield–IMD–West Loop Express Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach,  Megabus,  Greyhound, Peoria Charter
IL Summit Summit  Metra: ■ Heritage Corridor  Pace Bus: 330
IL Joliet Joliet TransportationCenter  Amtrak: Texas Eagle  Metra: ■ Heritage Corridor, ■ Rock Island Pace Bus: 501, 504, 505, 507, 508, 509, 511, 832, 834
IL Dwight Dwight
IL Pontiac Pontiac  Amtrak: Texas Eagle
IL Normal Bloomington-Normal  Amtrak: Texas Eagle  Connect Transit: Green, Red/Exp, Lime, Brown, Tan, Pink, Yellow, Redbird Express, Sapphire Burlington Trailways,  Greyhound, Peoria Charter
IL Lincoln Lincoln  Amtrak: Texas Eagle
IL Springfield Springfield  Amtrak: Texas Eagle  SMTD: 4, 7, 12, 903
IL Carlinville Carlinville  Amtrak: Texas Eagle
IL Alton Alton  Amtrak: Texas Eagle  Madison County Transit: Route 11
MO St. Louis Gateway TransportationCenter  Amtrak: Missouri River Runner, Texas Eagle  MetroLink: Red Blue (at Civic Center) MetroBus: 4, 8, 10, 11, 32, 74, 80, 94, 99, 36X, 40X, 58X, 410X, 174X Madison County Transit: 1X, 3X, 12X, 14X, 16X, 18X Greyhound Lines,  Burlington Trailways,  Megabus,  Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach


Service type: Higher-speed rail
Status: Operating
Locale: Midwest United States
Predecessor: State House, Loop
First service: October 30, 2006
Current operator: Amtrak
Annual ridership: 476,180 (FY22) Increase 82.3%
Route Termini: Chicago, Illinois / St. Louis, Missouri
Stops: 9
Distance traveled: 284 miles (457 km)
Average journey time: 5 hours, 17 minutes
Service frequency: Four daily round trips
Train numbers: 301–303, 305–307 (CHI–STL) / 318–319 (CHI–KCY)
On-board services
Classes: Coach Class, Business Class
Catering facilities: Café
Baggage facilities: Overhead racks
Rolling stock: Amfleet, Horizon, Siemens Venture, Siemens Charger
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Operating speed: Up to 110 miles per hour (180 km/h)
Track owners: CN, UP, NS, CPKC, TRRA