Illinois: The Nation's Railroad Hub

As home of the nation's railroad hub, Illinois has a pivotal role to play in making high-speed rail a reality in the U.S.

With direct service to 525 stations in 36 states, and the potential for many more, what happens in Chicago truly has national impact.

Therefore, it's critical that Illinois be a strong leader in building for fast, frequent, and affordable trains.

The good news is that Illinois has a long history of investing in better passenger rail, through Amtrak, Metra, and the South Shore.

Now, federal funds are available to rapidly expand the system, but the state must act quickly.

Completion of the Englewood Flyover (seen here) is just one recent Illinois project with national impact. 

Frequent, on-time, affordable, and easy connections

It should be practical and easy to make a day trip to Chicago, O'Hare, Springfield, and St. Louis from anywhere in the state.

Trains should be attractive for business trips, access to college, daily commutes, family visits, and more.

Illinois needs an integrated rail plan

Imagine an integrated statewide plan for modern trains, transit systems, and intercity buses, all connected into a robust network, with a 220-mph high-speed trunk line at its core.

Frequent daily departures would carry business travelers, students, and tourists to many destinations now accessible only by car.

It would mean cleaner air and more productive commutes. Downstate cities would have more development options and residents would have more job opportunities.

It’s a game-changing way to think about travel.

This potential route map is color-coded to align with the Metra routes used to access Chicago.
Expand outward from Metra

There are already many independent proposals for better trains in Illinois. Typically, each expansion proposal is evaluated independently. Each has to justify large, Chicago-area investments on its own.

A more effective approach would be to treat proposals as a series of building blocks added to existing Metra routes.

This integrated approach, prioritized through a long-range plan, would expedite planning and construction, reduce capital expenses, and make the trains more useful.

Major building blocks of an Illinois statewide plan

The vision for a statewide system will depend on several fundamental building blocks.  A dedicated passenger main line would speed local, express, and bullet trains through Chicago to a modernized Union Station, the airport, and beyond.

Help make Illinois passenger rail better

Moving to the next level will require the state to commit to significant investments in tracks, stations, and modern train equipment. New federal funds are available, but the state must compete for the funds.

Legislators will prioritize a modern transit network if—and only if—they know you support it.