Chamber Continues to Work on Chicago Amtrak Route

Dec 18, 2019

Wifi is available on ACELA Express Amtrak trains.
Credit https://media.amtrak.com/media-images/ / Amtrak

The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce hopes it doesn't take another five years before people can start riding trains to Chicago.

The US Department of Transportation has approved a five-year extension of $177 million in federal funding for the new Amtrak route. 

Tyler Power, the chamber's Government Affairs Director, says Illinois already set aside $225 million to pay for track upgrades between the Quad Cities and Wyanet.

Iowa Interstate Railroad train
Credit https://iaisrr.com/ / Iowa Interstate Railroad

The tracks are owned by the Iowa Interstate Railroad. And now, the main hold-up is the lack of an agreement between the state and railroad.

Power and other chamber officials are in frequent contact with the Illinois DOT, which is negotiating the deal. They're pushing for the state to get the agreement done sooner rather than later.

The Federal Railroad Administration funding extension will expire at the end of 2024. 

The Quad Cities Chicago passenger rail project has its own line item in the Illinois DOT's five-year improvement plan. 

More than ten years ago, a feasibility study estimated the Amtrak route would cost $23 million.

At the time, US House Representatives Bruce Braley and Phil Hare said the train service would attract an estimated 187,000 riders every year.

That proposed route included Iowa City which is no longer part of the plan.

Screenshot of a Iowa Interstate Railroad interactive map showing its route in northwestern Illinois
Credit https://tinyurl.com/IowaInterstateRRzoomSS / Iowa Interstate Railroad