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October  15, 2010

Josh Kauffman 217.558.0517
Amtrak Contact: Marc Magliari
312 880.5390


92-year-old Illinois building made more welcoming, accessible

MATTOON, Ill. – A four-year project to stabilize and then improve the three-story former railroad office building and passenger station used by six daily Amtrak trains was celebrated today by Amtrak and Illinois Department of Transportation (Illinois DOT) representatives who congratulated the Coles County Historical Society on the completion of $3 million effort to restore the building to better serve the region and its growing ridership.
The historical society raised $400,000 locally, received $70,000 from the City of Mattoon and used $130,000 in grants from Illinois DOT and other state agencies to match $2.6 million in federal transportation funds. Among other improvements, the project replaced the clay-tile roof, installed a new passenger elevator, made lavatories accessible for the disabled and preserved the historic nature of the building opened by the former Illinois Central Railroad in 1918.

“We've been looking forward to this day for going on ten years,” said C. Ted Ostrem, President of the Coles County Historical Society at what he called a “Station Celebration.” The City of Mattoon obtained the building from the successor of the Illinois Central in 2001 and turned over to the historical society the management of the building and its renovation.
The newly remodeled station is better able to accommodate all passengers and features a new side entrance foyer with a modern passenger elevator, a restored waiting room, new restrooms and renovated spaces on the mezzanine level and street level to accommodate an historical museum display area and future commercial tenants.

Particularly challenging was the size of the building, which included railroad offices at street level and the location of the train tracks at a lower level. Railroad employees had operated a freight elevator to help passengers with disabilities or with baggage reach track level, but regular staffing was reduced in 1994 and then eliminated.

The Mattoon station, which also serves nearby Charleston and Eastern Illinois University, has seen significant ridership growth since an additional state-supported round-trip train was added in 2006. For the 12 months ending June 30, 2010 (State Fiscal Year 2010), an all-time high of 30,851 passengers began or ended their trips in Mattoon. This is more than triple the number of passengers from 1996, when Amtrak staffing ended as a budget reduction.

The station is served by the Illini and the Saluki Amtrak trains with two daily round-trips between Chicago and Carbondale, Ill., via Champaign and Mattoon, and the Amtrak City of New Orleans, operating daily between Chicago and New Orleans, via Memphis.

For the 12 months ending September 30, 2010 (Amtrak Fiscal Year 2010), 304,255 passengers rode the three daily round-trip trains on the corridor between Chicago and Carbondale, an increase of five percent from the previous 12 months.

Service by the Illini and Saluki (Trains 390-393) is operated by Amtrak under a contract with the Illinois DOT and the support of the Illini/Saluki Rail Coalition, a group that meets with the railroad and state several times annually to discuss train performance and promotion. Amtrak and the Illinois DOT commended Mattoon for hosting and participating in meetings of the coalition, which includes mayors, tourism groups, city planners and economic development representatives, chambers of commerce, and academic institutions.

About Amtrak

As the nation’s intercity passenger rail operator, Amtrak connects America in safer, greener and healthier ways. Last fiscal year (FY 2010), the railroad carried over 28.7 million passengers, making it the best year in the company’s history. With 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, Amtrak operates more than 300 trains each day—at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph)—to more than 500 destinations. Amtrak also is the partner of choice for state-supported corridor services in 15 states and for several commuter rail agencies. Visit or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information.

About Illinois DOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation provides safe, cost-effective transportation for Illinois in ways that enhance quality of life, promote economic prosperity, and demonstrate respect for our environment. Illinois DOT provides leadership throughout Illinois for the improvement and coordination of the state’s multi-faceted transportation system and serves as an advocate and trusted adviser to local governments and other community agencies involved in providing transportation access and services for all of Illinois. For more information, visit

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