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Amtrak scores impressive Illinois ridership gains

As Republicans and Democrats fight nationally about whether to support or kill Amtrak, the national passenger railroad continues to score some impressive ridership gains here in Illinois that ought to enter into the debate.

According to figures released by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Amtrak ridership grew more than 100,000 on the four state-subsidized routes in Illinois in the past 11 months, jumping 5.6 percent to about 2 million.

Particularly notable was the boost on the Chicago-St. Louis line, which is being upgraded to service of up to 110 miles per hour, but where disruptive construction work is ongoing. Ridership on that line leapt 10.9 percent, to 619,000 — that after several similar gains in recent years.

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Amtrak speed tests to start this month

The first test runs of 110-mph passenger trains in Illinois are scheduled to begin by the end of this month.

But speed is only one piece of the test.

Transportation regulators and Amtrakalso will monitor an automated system of crossing gates and lights intended to accommodate trains, motorists and pedestrians. If the system works as expected on the Amtrak line between Dwight and Pontiac, plans are to extend the upgrades to the remainder of the route downstate.

The target is to begin faster service between Chicago and St. Louis in 2015.


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Chicago – Detroit/Pontiac Passenger Rail Corridor Program Public Meetings

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has initiated a program to evaluate passenger rail improvements for the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac passenger rail corridor. The program is being prepared in partnership with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and in association with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

The purpose of the program is to improve intercity mobility by providing an improved passenger rail service that would be a competitive transportation alternative to automobile, bus and air service between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac, Mich. The program will provide sufficient information for the FRA to potentially support future decisions to fund and implement a major investment in the passenger rail corridor.

This website is being provided to keep you informed about the program and to provide opportunities for you to give input.


The public is welcome to come anytime between 4 and 7 p.m. to review the displays and talk with staff. A presentation will be given at 4:30 p.m. and repeated at 6 p.m. The same information will be presented at each meeting.

Wednesday, September 12, 4 to 7 p.m.
Chicago Union Station
Union Gallery Room (off the Great Hall)
500 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL

Thursday, September 13, 4 to 7 p.m.
Michigan City/City Hall
100 E. Michigan Blvd., Michigan City, IN

Wednesday, September 26, 4 to 7 p.m.
Double Tree by Hilton Hotel
5801 Southfield Expressway, Dearborn, MI

Thursday, September 27, 4 to 7 p.m.
Radisson Plaza Hotel
100 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI
(Parking validation will be provided for the Radisson parking garage.)

Surging Amtrak Ridership Sets 11 Consecutive Monthly Records

WASHINGTON –Amtrak ridership is surging this year with 11 consecutive monthly
ridership records.  In each month of the current fiscal year, Amtrak has posted the highest
ridership total ever for that particular month (i.e., the best October ever, the best November ever,
etc.) with the final month of September also expected to be a new record.  In addition, July was
the single best ridership month in the history of Amtrak.
“All across America the demand to travel by Amtrak is strong, growing and undeniable,”
said President and CEO Joe Boardman.  “Amtrak continues to deliver on its mission to fulfill a
vital national transportation need and does so with improved management and financial health.”
Through 11 months of FY 2012 (October 2011 – August 2012), total Amtrak ridership is
up 3.4 percent as compared to the same period last year.  When the current fiscal year ends on
September 30, Amtrak expects a new annual ridership record will be set, surpassing the current
record of 30.2 million passengers established in FY 2011.
From FY 2002 to FY 2011, Amtrak ridership increased 44 percent and set new annual
records in 8 of those 9 years.  This long-term growth is occurring across the Amtrak national
network and on all Amtrak business lines, including the Northeast Corridor, state-supported and
other short-distance routes, and long-distance services.

Public Meetings Scheduled for Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac Passenger Rail Corridor Program

CHICAGO – The departments of transportation for Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, in association
with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), are announcing a series of public meetings for
an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will be prepared for the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac
Passenger Rail Corridor Program. The meetings are being held to:
- Introduce the public to the program,
- Discuss the purpose and need for improvements,
- Present a range of possible route alternatives, and
- Identify potential issues that should be considered in the EIS.
The EIS is being prepared to evaluate passenger rail improvements along a 304-mile rail corridor
between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac, Mich. The EIS will evaluate the effects of upgrading rail
infrastructure and facilities to safely accommodate potential passenger rail service
improvements. Effects on the natural environment, jobs, the economy, air quality, traffic, and
neighborhoods will be considered.
MDOT and its state and federal partners are seeking input from all members of the public,
government agencies and tribes. Staff will be available to answer questions at four upcoming
meetings. Exhibits and other reference materials will be on display and presentations made.
All comments must be received by Oct. 15 to be included in this step of the EIS process.
Multiple options for submitting comments are available including:
- Fill out a comment form at a public meeting,
- Use the online comment form at,
- Dial the toll-free number at 877-351-0853, and
- Mail your written comments to Bob Parsons, MDOT, P.O. Box 30050, Lansing, MI 48909.
Public meetings will be held in each of the three states and will be open to the public between 4 and 7 p.m. A presentation will be held at 4:30 p.m. and repeated at 6 p.m. The same information will be presented at each meeting.
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 4 to 7 p.m. CDT Chicago Union Station in the Union Gallery Room (off the Great Hall) 500 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago
Thursday, Sept. 13, 4 to 7 p.m. CDT Michigan City – City Hall 100 East Michigan Blvd., Michigan City
Wednesday, Sept. 26, 4 to 7 p.m. EDT Double Tree by Hilton Hotel 5801 Southfield Expressway, Detroit
Thursday, Sept. 27, 4 to 7 p.m. EDT
Radisson Plaza Hotel
100 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo
(Parking validation will be provided for the Radisson parking garage.)
An online public meeting also will be provided where the public can conveniently view all meeting information. This self-guided meeting will be available at starting Friday, Sept. 7, 2012.
Fast Facts:
- Departments of transportation in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana are hosting a series of public meetings to help prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac Passenger Rail Corridor.
- The EIS will help evaluate passenger rail improvements along a 304-mile corridor in three states.
- Public comments must be received by Oct. 15 and can be submitted in multiple ways.
- Check the website for more details:
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IDOT Holds Hearing On Train Traffic

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Illinois towns get a taste of high-speed rail

On a stretch of rail between two towns in Illinois, the dream of high-speed rail in the Midwest will soon become a reality, if only for 14 miles.


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Leaders form Amtrak Corridor Coalition

Representatives of local, state and federal government came together Monday in Galesburg to officially vote to form an Amtrak corridor coalition. The group formed to promote economic development, tourism and educational opportunity along the Chicago-Quincy Corridor is said to be one of the first of its kind in the nation.


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Federal official promotes faster Amtrak service in Michigan

The head of the Federal Railroad Administration says improved passenger train service is crucial for Michigan’s future. Joe Szabo was in Michigan Tuesday to talk about the benefits of hi-speed passenger rail service.


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Push to return rail service to city on track

If you’re younger than 30, you probably have no idea that you could once catch a train in downtown Fort Wayne and travel to places like Chicago.

That ended in 1992, when Amtrak moved its train station to Waterloo, about 30 miles north. According to City Councilman Geoff Paddock, the move happened because of a dispute over who would maintain a stretch of track in the northwest corner of the state.

Four years ago, an organization called the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association sprang into existence with the goal of bringing rail service back to Fort Wayne, which, according to Paddock, is the largest city in the state without passenger rail service.

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