Amtrak

Wikipedia

Proposed cuts to Amtrak in next year's budget could mean less public transportation for Illinois. 

Dan Johnson is a representative for the High Speed Rail Association. He blames the lack of funding on the rollback of the temporary income tax hike at the end of last year. 

Johnson says the state needs the additional revenue from higher taxes.

Victor Yehling/WNIJ News

The report of the death of passenger rail service to Rockford, to paraphrase Mark Twain, was an exaggeration.

That’s the position Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey took at a news conference today to clarify a comment Wednesday by Amtrak Representative Ray Lang to an Illinois House committee.

The decision on whether passenger rail service will come to Rockford as proposed depends on the State of Illinois, not on Amtrak.

“The currently proposed service to Rockford would require state support,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told WNIJ News in an e-mail. “The state will decide how much service it will contract with Amtrak to provide.”

Magliari responded to reports that Amtrak representative Ray Lang told the House Public Safety Appropriations Committee that Rockford will not get Amtrak passenger rail service any time in the near future,

Future Plans Go Off The Tracks In Genoa

Apr 15, 2014

Several northern Illinois cities are eager for the return of passenger rail service across parts of the region. But one community is still absorbing the shock of being left out of the planned route.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Rockford residents can look forward to taking a train into Chicago next year, after three decades without passenger rail service. 

Amtrak is coming off a record year for ridership. And it still hopes to re-establish service in northwest Illinois. That was supposed to happen near the end of this year. But supporters wonder if the project will get off the ground by then. Some also wonder if the new route will attract enough customers to sustain itself.

Guy Stephens

Amtrak is set to resume passenger service across northern Illinois from Chicago to Dubuque in 2014.  Cities along the route are building new stations to handle the new Blackhawk Line. Some in Freeport see a chance to create much more than just a stop on the route.

Illinois will acquire new rail cars for all of the in-state Amtrak routes. Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said the new cars will address the increase in ridership experienced by the service for the past five or six years.

“They're going to be bi-level cars,” Schneider said. “It allows us to transport more passengers on the same footprint, so it makes it more efficient and it gives us opportunity to expand service without having to add train sets.”

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

 

Construction is expected to begin later this year on a new passenger train station in downtown Rockford. Governor Pat Quinn announced the state was putting three million dollars toward the effort during a news conference at the historic Tinker Swiss Cottage Tuesday afternoon -- not far from where the station will be built. The governor said not only is it important to look at transportation needs all over the state, it’s important to make sure northern Illinois is connected, especially Rockford.