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No Date Yet for Amtrak Service to the QC

"Be patient." That was the message Wednesday from the Illinois Department of Transportation for local residents wondering when passenger rail service to Chicago will start. 

Members of the Bi-State Regional Commission got an update on the project from Scott Speegle - the Passenger Rail Communications Manager for the Illinois DOT. He says the preliminary engineering work is going on now, and once that's finished, they'll know what work needs to be done and may be able to estimate when the tracks'll be ready. 

Credit WVIK News
Scott Speegle, Illinoit DOT

"Because this project has been stretched for a long time, I don't want to give any specific time frames because I don't want to raise hopes, I don't want to dash hopes, and I want to be realistic and ask for patience from folks in the Quad Cities."

Speegle says the biggest challenge will be working out an agreement with the Iowa Interstate Railroad on what improvements will be necessary, and who will pay for them.

"Railroads are private businesses, and they own the property. We're negotiating with them to make improvements to allow for passenger trains. And to be honest, sometimes their wants and needs are a little different from the wants and needs of the state."

He says the route from Chicago to Wyanet in Bureau County, on BNSF tracks, already handles passenger trains, it's the tracks from Wyanet to the Quad Cities that'll need some work. 

And along with being patient, his message is Illinois fully committed, and is doing all it can, to start passenger rail service between the Quad Cities and Chicago.  

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.