State to find funds to speed rail service

Published 03/11 2013 06:00PM

Updated 03/11 2013 06:24PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Next year's state budget aims to reign in spending to help pay off old bills. But, there are some spots where the governor is handing out more money than last year.

He wants to spend more on Amtrak. The new budget calls for a $12-million increase for trains which run right through Springfield and Champaign. It's a nearly 50% hike from last year's funding.

At the same time, the governor's slashing things like school buses and free lunch for low-income students. But, by federal law, states like Illinois are required to start paying more for rail service. So, the state has no choice, but to cough up more money.

Some riders are happy to see Amtrak get extra support, but others say the state should find a different way to come up with the money. You won't actually see much of a difference from the state funding increase. Illinois' dollars are just replacing federal dollars.

So, no upgrades to Amtrak like high-speed trains happening any faster. That project is still on track to start in a few years.

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