Every day white vans pull into the parking lot of the Amtrak station in Effingham, in southern Illinois. From a distance they look like regular 15-passenger vans, until you notice the metal screen separating the driver and passengers. Those passengers are some of the 33,000 men and women that leave Illinois prisons annually — with few possessions — but lots of baggage.
Amtrak is adding more trains on its Chicago-Michigan route to accommodate increased demand during the busy travel period at the end of December.Amtrak will have two additional daily trains between Chicago and Ann Arbor from Dec. 21-23 and Dec. 28-30.
Rail upgrades needed for faster train journeys between Chicago and St. Louis will start north of Bloomington this weekend.Work on part of the Amtrak route in the region will begin Saturday.Improvements will include new premium rail with concrete ties and stone ballast.