The first test runs of 110-mph passenger trains in Illinois are scheduled to begin by the end of this month.
But speed is only one piece of the test.
Transportation regulators and Amtrakalso will monitor an automated system of crossing gates and lights intended to accommodate trains, motorists and pedestrians. If the system works as expected on the Amtrak line between Dwight and Pontiac, plans are to extend the upgrades to the remainder of the route downstate.
The target is to begin faster service between Chicago and St. Louis in 2015.