Posts Tagged ‘Dick Durbin’

Governor Quinn, Secretary LaHood and Senator Durbin Preview 110-MPH Rail Service in Illinois

110-mile per hour Rail Demonstration A Milestone For Midwest High-Speed Rail Network, Thousands of Jobs Created from Work

Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider, Amtrak Chairman Tom Carper, and local leaders to celebrate the start of 110-mph rail service in Illinois. Today’s demonstration of 110-mph speeds between Dwight and Pontiac on the critical Chicago-St. Louis rail corridor represents a historic step towards the establishment of a high-speed rail network that will secure Illinois’ position as the Midwest’s transportation hub.

The project – part of a $2 billion federal and state investment in high-speed rail – has created and supported more than 6,000 construction jobs and many more related to production and equipment manufacturing.

The 15-mile demonstration segment showcased major infrastructure improvements, state-of-the-art signaling, and significant technological and safety advancements. Trains will start carrying Amtrak riders at the higher speed between Dwight and Pontiac before Thanksgiving of this year. The 110-mph service is projected to be in place along nearly 75% of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor by 2015, reducing travel time by more than an hour. Today’s demonstration is part of Governor Quinn’s vision to bring high-speed rail to Illinois and modernize the state’s transportation infrastructure.

“A 21st century rail system in Illinois will create jobs and drive economic development throughout the Midwest, while making travel across Illinois faster, safer and more reliable,” Governor Quinn said. “This demonstration of high-speed rail service would not be possible without the unwavering commitment of President Obama, Secretary LaHood, Senator Dick Durbin, and many others. High-speed rail is coming to Illinois and these long-term investments in our transportation system will benefit the citizens of our state for generations to come.”

“Investing in passenger rail means more options for the traveling public, new jobs and expanding economic opportunities for communities all along the Chicago to St. Louis corridor,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “With next generation rail equipment, new track structures, and renovated and new rail stations, passengers will be able to enjoy faster travel times aboard a greater number of trains. Today’s achievement is just one more example of how rail investments are transforming communities across America.”

Illinois has become a national leader in passenger rail expansion. Total ridership on Amtrak’s four Illinois routes has grown nearly 75% over the past six years, rising to more than 2.1 million passengers last year. Ridership on today’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service alone has doubled in that time period, despite relatively slow speeds and aging equipment. When completed, trains traveling from Chicago to St. Louis will reach top speeds matching those of trains now traveling between Chicago and Detroit, the fastest passenger trains in North America outside of the East Coast.

“Amtrak is a lynchpin in Illinois mass transportation and a vital component in the economic development of communities from Chicago to St. Louis, and with ridership up 6 percent this year, its popularity only continues to grow,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said. “Recognizing high-speed rail’s outstanding potential to create jobs and drive growth, as well as our state’s leading role in transportation infrastructure, the federal government invested close to $2 billion out of a total $8 billion made available nationwide through the Recovery Act into Illinois projects. High-speed trains will help move residents quickly and comfortably across the state and ensure Illinois remains a top passenger rail provider. Today’s test is a major step toward that goal.”

Today’s demonstration began at the soon-to-be renovated Joliet Union Station and ended at Normal’s brand new multi-modal train station, where transportation officials highlighted the modern upgrades, accommodations and benefits Amtrak travelers will experience first-hand in the near future. Before it was complete, the new Normal station and promise of 110-mph service had attracted more than $200 million in private investments to its downtown area, an example of how rail investment attracts economic growth. Future rail investments along the Chicago to St. Louis corridor will spur economic activity across Illinois in Springfield, Dwight, Pontiac, Lincoln, Carlinville, Alton and Joliet where new or newly-renovated stations are under development or in the planning stages.

“This remarkable 110-mph segment demonstration serves as a testament to exceptional teamwork among all levels of government and the private sector, and exemplifies the dedication to enhancing viable, cost-effective and essential transportation improvements needed to compete effectively in the decades ahead,” Secretary Schneider said. “We are proud to unveil this high-speed rail segment test as a landmark step in rail history and share what travelers may experience in the very near future.”

Today’s high-speed rail demonstration follows the recent announcement of a $352 million multi-state procurement to design, build and deliver 130 bi-level passenger railcars for use in California and the Midwest, including the Chicago to St. Louis corridor. The Notice of Intent to Award identified Rochelle, Illinois-based vendor Nippon-Sharyo/Sumitomo Corporation of America as the expected builder of the railcars, the first of which are slated for delivery in fall 2015.

“We have worked in partnership with the state of Illinois to make 110-mph service a reality and Amtrak is continuing to bring high-speed rail service in an expanded Midwest network,” said Tom Carper, chairman, Amtrak Board of Directors. “When this project is complete, we anticipate the Chicago-St. Louis corridor will be one of the busiest in the country.”

“I want to congratulate Union Pacific’s field engineering team that has produced some very impressive numbers since this project started in 2010,” said Lance Fritz, Union Pacific Railroad’s executive vice president – operations. “The team has laid more than 2.5 million linear feet of rail, spread nearly 1.3 million tons of ballast to help provide a more stable roadbed and installed nearly 620,000 concrete ties. Thank you for a job well done.”

Existing Amtrak Amfleet cars have been refurbished to include new coach and business class seating, new café cars, healthier menu items and Wi-Fi service. Additional upgrades underway on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor route include installation of safer quadrant and pedestrian gates at urban crossings, gates at farm crossings, and new signals and road surfaces at crossings.

To follow progress, updates and completed improvements along the signature Chicago-St. Louis highspeed rail corridor, please

Related Documents

HSR Factsheet (PDF)
Midwest Region Fact Sheet (PDF)

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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Durbin hopes for additional Amtrak funding

High-speed rail keeps progressing in Illinois, even though some hoped-for funds to help the project didn’t come through.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says he is disappointed that the new federal transportation program, passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, does not include funding for Amtrak.


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Town of Normal, Illinois, U.S. Department of Transportation and Amtrak Celebrate New “Uptown Station”

Federally-funded project sparks economic development
NORMAL, Ill. – Federal and state officials today joined representatives of the Town of
Normal and Amtrak in opening a multimodal transportation center to serve as a station for
Amtrak rail and motorcoach passengers, local transit buses and as the focal point of a new urban
center of a community that is among the top 50 Amtrak locations nationwide by ridership.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — along with Mayor
Chris Koos and Amtrak Board Chairman Tom Carper — participated in the ceremony that
included a dedication of the building now called Uptown Station, followed by tours of the
facility and the Amtrak Exhibit Train. The $45.9 million project
received a $22 million grant under the Obama Administration’s
TIGER (Transportation Investments Generating Economic
Recovery) program, as well as $10.6 million in additional federal
funding, and more than $13 million in state and local
“Key to our Uptown master plan from the beginning was a
transportation center designed to provide a multistory anchor for
redevelopment,” Mayor Koos said.  “Uptown Station is
something all Normal’s citizens can admire and be proud of, an
example of elegant design, sustainability and quality that will last
for generations.
“The hundreds of jobs created during two years of
construction invigorated the economy of the area, and now that Uptown Station is operational it
will serve the public transportation needs of hundreds of thousands of people who live in Central
Illinois,” added Koos, a member of the national Mayors Advisory Committee for Amtrak.

State Announces Plans to Provide $8.6M for Springfield High-Speed Rail Corridor

Federal Railroad Administration Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statements
SPRINGFIELD –The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) today was joined by officials from the City of Springfield to announce a planned $8.6 million commitment toward the Phase II engineering studies on high-speed rail service on a consolidated 10th Street corridor through Springfield, should that be the chosen corridor in the Record of Decision. The planned commitment coincides with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)’s approval to release Draft Environmental Impact Statements (DEIS) on future enhancements to the Chicago-to-St. Louis high-speed route currently under construction. IDOT is committed to helping the City of Springfield identify and secure other revenue sources to help pay for construction as the project moves forward.

“Our investments in high-speed rail and transportation create jobs, foster economic development and promote economic growth while moving people swiftly and safely across our state as people should expect in the 21st Century,” Governor Quinn said. “Our commitment to provide additional funding for engineering work demonstrates that we are moving quickly to complete high-speed rail service from Chicago to St. Louis.”

The planned funding commitment, available through Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital plan, will assist the City of Springfield in developing design plans for improvements to the corridor, assuming it is ultimately selected for the new high-speed rail service. Ridership on Amtrak’s four state-supported routes in Illinois has doubled over the last five years to 1.75 million passengers, with a remarkable 210 percent increase on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor alone, from 133,036 in 2006 to 412,593 in 2011.

“I fully support the 10th Street Corridor choice and the preliminary environmental approval by IDOT. Governor Quinn’s commitment of $8.6 million will help to complete engineering,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “But understand the overall project will cost in excess of $300 million and will require an extraordinary level of cooperation to achieve. I stand ready to continue to support rail modernization and work to bring federal funds to Springfield to make it a reality.”

The DEIS released today shows only two remaining “build alternative” routes being considered for high-speed rail service through Springfield, both of which are along 10th Street. The Tier 1 DEIS focuses on double-tracking the entire line, while the Tier 2 DEIS pinpoints two alternatives on 10th Street corridor as the finalists for high-speed service through Springfield.

“We are pleased to offer our support and partner with the City of Springfield to take the first major step to implement future high-speed rail service in the area,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “Once a final decision is made for the Springfield corridor, we hope our financial commitment to pay a percentage of the project design costs will move the construction process forward.”

A series of statewide public hearings, including one in Springfield, will be held by IDOT and the FRA in August to seek comments on the DEIS documents. For a copy of the DEIS and a schedule for the upcoming public hearings, please visit The final version of the EIS will be published by the FRA later this year following consideration of public and agency comments.

“With this funding commitment and our partnership with the State, I am excited for the next phase of high-speed rail to move forward,” City of Springfield Mayor Mike Houston said. “As we’re seeing the demand for rail ridership increasing, it’s very important that this upgrade occurs and that this project succeeds.”

In addition, as part of this agreement, interim safety improvements will be made to the existing 3rd Street corridor, mainly involving the addition of quad gates that close all lanes of traffic at a railroad crossing, thus preventing cars from driving around closed gates. This $30 million package of improvements will enable passenger trains to increase their speed from the current 25 mph to a maximum of 40 mph, the most they will be on 3rd Street.

Under the leadership of Governor Quinn, Illinois has received more than $1.4 billion in federal funding to develop high-speed service between Chicago and St. Louis, greatly reducing travel times between the two cities and creating about 6,200 direct and indirect jobs. The Governor’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program has contributed $42 million toward construction. The first trains traveling at 110 mph will make their debut between Dwight and Pontiac in September. Upgrades to the Joliet-Alton portion of the corridor are expected to be complete in 2014.


Governor Quinn and Senator Durbin Announce $10.4 Million TIGER Grant for Rail Improvements

Combined $370 million package to fund 15 new CREATE projects and support 3,300 jobs; Railroads increase overall commitment to $325 million
CHICAGO – June 19, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the State of Illinois a $10.4 million grant from the fourth round of the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER IV) program. The TIGER grant will complete a $370 million funding package of 15 local projects in the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program. The projects include new track and signal systems that will ease freight, Amtrak, and Metra congestion, and support 3,300 jobs throughout the six-county Chicagoland area.

“Our partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation and rail companies allows us to strengthen Illinois’ position as a national transportation leader,” Governor Quinn said. “These major multimodal investments will improve passenger and freight rail performance, increase safety and support thousands of jobs across our state.”

“The over $225 million in funding that Illinois has received to date through the federal TIGER grant program has been essential to maintaining safe, efficient transportation systems that connect workers with jobs and spur economic development,” Sen. Durbin said. “Today’s funding for the CREATE project is no exception. It will help ensure that Illinois’ transportation system can meet the needs of businesses and residents by reducing congestion, improving travel times and supporting thousands of good-paying jobs in the Chicago region.”

The 15-project CREATE program funding package consists of: $211 million from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital plan, $136 million from the Class I freight railroads, represented by the Association of American Railroads (AAR), $10.4 million in U.S. DOT Tiger IV grant funds, $12 million from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and $1 million from the City of Chicago. In addition, the state and AAR recently reached an agreement through which the freight railroads increased their overall commitment to CREATE by $155 million, bringing their total contribution up to $325 million.

“Today’s TIGER grant award, with the Illinois Jobs Now! funds and private funding from the CREATE freight rail partners will greatly advance vital CREATE projects over the next several years,” AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger said. “This public-private partnership is truly historic. When this package of 15 projects is complete, more than half of the CREATE program will have been finished. The freight railroads look forward to continuing to work with the state and the City of Chicago to complete the rest of this important program that already is improving freight and passenger rail flow in Chicago and also across the entire U.S. rail network.”

Eight of the 15 projects are on the CREATE program’s Western Avenue corridor. Five separate railroads – Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Canadian National, CSX, Indiana Harbor Belt, and Union Pacific – use tracks along this corridor, which also intersects the important CN Heritage Corridor, on which Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis and Metra’s Heritage Corridor trains to Joliet operate. Easing chokepoints on the tracks that cross the Heritage Corridor are expected to result in fewer delays for these passenger trains.

“Today’s announcement highlights the tremendous spirit of cooperation that exists among all of the CREATE partners,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “This package of projects will go a long way toward easing chronic freight and passenger rail congestion, potentially making our highways less crowded and reducing travel times for people commuting between their jobs and families.”

The funding package will also fully pay for the ICC’s highest priority grade separation construction project in the state at 25th Avenue and the Union Pacific Railroad in Melrose Park. Another five of the 15 projects are along the Beltway corridor used by all the Class I railroads in Chicago’s western suburbs, and the East/West corridor that connects the Beltway to the Western Avenue corridor. The viaduct improvement program is the second phase of the City of Chicago’s ongoing effort to improve sidewalks, roadways, and lighting on areas under railroad bridges in Chicago.

The CREATE program is a unique partnership of the State of Illinois, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the City of Chicago, Amtrak, Metra, and the Class I railroads. To date, 14 CREATE projects have been completed, reducing passenger and freight train delays by 33% and 28%, respectively, in the areas in which the projects have been completed. Another 12 are in construction now, with four more in final design. For more information on CREATE, please visit


Agreement in Place for Construction of Chicago-Moline Passenger Rail Route, Creating 2,000 Jobs

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) today announced that a cooperative agreement has been finalized with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and host railroads to begin construction of the Chicago-Moline passenger rail corridor. The project is expected to create nearly 2,000 jobs.

“We are very excited that we now have an agreement in place so construction can begin on this important passenger service extension connecting Chicago and the Quad Cities,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “Governor Quinn’s guidance and leadership on this issue has helped us ensure that service will begin on the corridor between Chicago and Moline in 2014.”

The cooperative agreement with the FRA allows the obligation of $177 million in federal funds towards corridor construction. The state is matching the federal funds with $45 million from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program.

“Expanding passenger rail creates jobs, promotes economic development and provides people an alternative to the automobile by connecting the great cities throughout our state,” Governor Quinn said. “This agreement announced today is another important step to linking the Quad Cities area to Chicago and the global economy through new passenger service.”

“Almost five years ago we began a study of this route that reaffirmed what most in the region already knew: Expanding access into the Quad Cities makes economic sense,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. “That we are able to make this idea one step closer to reality today is a testament to the ability of Quad City officials, businesses and the public to unite behind a strong agenda to create jobs and boost economic development.”

The cooperative agreement on construction of the Chicago-to-Moline passenger service includes sub-agreements on service outcome arrangements with the host railroads, Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad from Chicago to Wyanet and Iowa Interstate Railroad from Wyanet to Moline. The service outcome agreement sets forth how the corridor will be operated and provides for reliability standards.

“The Illinois Department of Transportation’s announcement of a cooperative agreement with the Federal Rail Administration is a huge step forward to bring passenger rail to the Quad Cities,” said Moline Mayor Don Welvaert. “The Quad Cities Rail Initiative is a perfect example of how city, state and federal agencies work together to make great transportation and economic development projects happen.”

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Durbin sees Amtrak funding critical to Western Illinois economy

Senator Dick Durbin’s (D-IL) commitment for economic growth and economic sustainability for Western Illinois was clearly on display this week as he pushed for no cuts in Amtrak service for the region. Meeting with top regional stakeholders on Thursday and Friday, Senator Durbin was sharply critical of current proposals by the House of Representatives regarding Amtrak funding that could have a devastating impact on the economies and job growth of Galesburg, Quincy, and Macomb, Illinois.


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Illinois High Speed Rail Funding Restored

Lawmakers say they have restored $100 million in funding for High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail grants.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, along with several other politicians, announced Wednesday that an amendment to the program has been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.


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Senator Durbin statement on agreement that will allow FRA to obligate $133 million in funds for Englewood Flyover

Agreement between NS, IDOT and Amtrak will move forward and protect funding from future attempts by House Republicans to rescind funds

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released a statement after Norfolk Southern (NS), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Amtrak reached an development agreement will bring Federal Railroad Administration one step closer to obligating $133 million in funding for the Englewood Flyover. This agreement will move the project forward and help prevent any future attempts by House Republicans to rescind this funding that was appropriated through the Recovery Act.

“Earlier this year, I joined with my colleagues to stop an attempt by the House Republicans to rescind nearly $400 million in Illinois transportation funding – $133 million for the Englewood Flyover project,” said Durbin. “We were successful then, but the House threat remains. Just last week, House Republicans passed an appropriations bill out of committee that included a provision to rescind unobligated high speed rail funds. The sooner we can obligate the funds, the sooner we can begin putting people to work and moving these important projects forward while creating the good paying jobs we desperately need in Illinois.”

Earlier this year, Durbin sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, urging him to obligate as soon as possible nearly $400 million in Illinois transportation funding. Obligating – making a legal commitment to allow a project to move forward – this funding would have kept eight Illinois projects safe from rescission under the House Republican’s 2011 Budget plan. Obligation now will likely prevent future rescission threats. In his letter, Durbin wrote: “Stopping these projects now by arbitrarily rescinding their funding would kill hundreds of Illinois jobs and hold back millions in private investment from Illinois communities.”

The Englewood Flyover project will create an estimated 1,450 jobs in Chicago, and is the linchpin for the CREATE rail modernization program. Every day, roughly 1,200 trains pass through the Chicago region, supporting more than 38,000 jobs. But over the next 20 years, demand for freight rail service in Chicago is expected to nearly double. If rail capacity and infrastructure issues are not addressed, studies show the Chicago region will miss out on 17,000 additional jobs and $2 billion in annual economic production. CREATE will ensure that the Chicago region is prepared to handle those future increases in rail traffic.

Completing the Englewood Flyover will also reduce delays for Amtrak riders and shorten commutes on Metra’s Rock Island line, in addition to enabling the elimination of delays on the Southwest Service line. Approximately 78 Metra trains and 14 Amtrak trains, in addition to heavy freight rail traffic, pass through the crossing every day.

CREATE will reduce congestion with track, switch, and signal upgrades and by constructing overpasses and underpasses to end conflicts at both rail-rail and highway-rail crossings. It will also limit locomotive engine idling and improve air quality. CREATE is a first-of-its-kind partnership, bringing together the federal government, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Chicago Department of Transportation, Metra, and the Association of American Railroads. Ten CREATE projects have already been completed.

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