SPRINGFIELD — With nearly 10 percent more passengers hopping onto Illinois trains this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is encouraging the Illinois Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of an east-west passenger rail corridor.
"Expanding affordable, effective passenger rail is a sound investment for the region," said State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville). "Increased Amtrak ridership is the best indicator of the need for improvements and expansion of the existing rail lines."
Representative Don Moffitt (R-Galesburg) is sponsoring the Amtrak Feasibility Study, House Resolution 374. It will analyze the potential ridership, capital costs and operating expenses of a new east-west passenger rail service between The Quad Cities, Galesburg, Peoria, Bloomington/Normal, Champaign/Urbana and Danville.
"Illinois has experienced some of the largest increases in Amtrak ridership in the entire nation," Moffitt said. "Our Chicago-to-Carbondale route alone has seen the third-largest jump nationwide this year. As gas prices continue to stay high and more individuals look toward alternative travel methods, exploring the feasibility of an east-west corridor to connect communities with our institutions of higher education and other travel destinations is certainly a worthy investment."
The route would consist of two daily round trips and connections to the Carbondale and Quincy corridors as well.
"A passenger rail corridor can help link communities, improve traffic, reduce pollution and provide efficient travel for our area students," Representative Pat Verschoore (D-Milan) said. "This rail system has the potential to draw new businesses to our area, attract tourists, put people back to work and have an overall positive impact on these communities."
Amtrak is expected to begin the study this summer.