Amtrak

Political Leaders Urge Rauner To Backtrack On Amtrak Cuts

Jul 29, 2015
Brian Mackey / WUIS

A group of downstate political leaders is urging Governor Bruce Rauner to backtrack on proposed cuts to Amtrak.

Members of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association held a news conference in Springfield to warn of possible cuts. Joining them was State Representative Don Moffitt, whose district includes the Amtrak line through Princeton, Galesburg and Macomb. 

Moffitt says Amtrak currently serves a lot of college students in western Illinois and across the state. He says if passenger rail service is ever going to be self-supporting, it must be on-time and provide options. 

School, City Officials Plead For State Amtrak Funding

May 20, 2015

Mayors and others affected by Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to cut Amtrak funding by 40 percent spent Tuesday morning testifying before a Senate Higher Education Committee.

Schools as small as Spoon River College and as large as the University of Illinois rely on Amtrak trains to bring their students to campus. They say Governor Bruce Rauner's proposal to drastically reduce Amtrak funding would affect enrollment at all downstate schools. 

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

The former chairman of Amtrak told Illinois lawmakers Wednesday that service cuts are inevitable should Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed 40 percent funding cut takes effect.

Fifty-six Amtrak trains run daily in Illinois. They run from Chicago to St. Louis, to Carbondale, to Quincy and up to Milwaukee, and more travelers are riding them.

Amtrak's former chairman Thomas Carper says he can't say how many, or which of those routes will be dropped.

But he says that will happen if Illinois doesn't come through with about $42 million.

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.

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