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High Speed Rail Begins in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - After a test phase, Amtrak is whisking rail passengers at a new top speed of 110 mph over a short section of its route between Chicago and St. Louis.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced the step forward for the Midwest's high-speed rail program on Thursday.

The higher speed over a 15-mile segment between Dwight and Pontiac comes in time for Thanksgiving and the start to the busy holiday travel period.

Quinn praised what he called a "next generation rail system" that will give passengers a safer, more reliable way to travel across the state.

The current top speed is 79 mph.

After more upgrades, transportation officials hope by 2015 to have the higher speed in place over 75 percent of the route, cutting the journey time by more than an hour.

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