The Nation’s Railroad Hub

Chicago has direct service to 525 stations in 36 states, with the potential for many more.
What happens in Illinois truly has national impact.



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.

And, Illinois needs to connect its universities, business centers and tourist attractions to each other and to O’Hare. Therefore, it’s critical that Illinois become aggressive about  building high-speed and regional rail.

The Issues

There are many proposed expansions that, if completed, would connect the entire state and new federal funds are available to build them.

The Obstacles

The state lacks a plan to build the projects and the Illinois Department of Transportation’s budget is too small to provide the state match.

Learn how you can help make it happen.

Quick Links

Critcal Chicago Projects

Several big projects in Chicago will have benefits far beyond the Illinois borders.

Illinois Corridors

Learn more about your corridor.

Icon Train Tunnel

Illinois Fast Track Initiative

Building statewide support for funding rapid expansion of trains in Illinois.

Take Action

Help create an aggressive rail program in Illinois.

Freedom, Opportunity, and Prosperity Statewide

Illinois is huge. Residents in Cairo and Chicago might be in different countries. Champaign is a tedious drive to Quincy. And Chicago and O’Hare are hard for everyone to get to.

An integrated network of high-speed trains, regional trains and frequent buses can change that. It can make it easier for people to travel longer distances, work, and be home for dinner. It can allow businesses to expand their locations. It can make the entire state more productive and more connected.

Great trains are for everyone. It’s the fast track for growing Illinois.

Amtrak Charger
The new Dwight station is in the foreground. An Amtrak train is stopped at the platform in the background.

Building on Success

Illinois has a long history of partnering with Amtrak, Metra, and privately-owned railroads to provide valuable links between Chicago and other Illinois communities. Ridership has grown steadily, despite infrequent departures and out-of-date trains.

We can build on these partnerships and build more track to:

  • Run faster and more frequent passenger trains.
  • Improve freight service.
  • Make railroad crossing safer.
  • Add new cities to the network.

Statewide regional rail will build stronger cites and towns, making the whole state better.  A new Chicago – St. Louis high-speed backbone will make it all ten times better.

Map of existing and potential passenger rail routes in Illinois.

Current Service

Metra operates eleven routes from four downtown stations.  It is time to convert Metra to Regional Rail so that more people can take more trips throughout the day.

The South Shore operates frequent service to Michigan City, IN and five trains a day to South Bend.  A big expansion program is adding more frequent trains on the mainline and build a new branch to Dyer.

Seven State-Supported routes link Chicago to downstate cities, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Michigan, These routes need much more frequent service.

Eight Inter-Regional routes radiate out from Chicago to the Coasts. These long neglected trains link small towns to big cities across the Midwest.

The State should create and fund a plan to expand and coordinate all these routes.

Read more about an Integrated Network Plan for Illinois

High-Speed Rail

Chicago and St. Louis are about the same distance as Madrid and Seville.  High-speed trains have connected the Spanish cities with a 2:20 minute trip-time since 1993.  Illinois needs to catch up.

The Illinois Department of Transportation completed a initial feasibility study of a new high-speed line in 2014.  In 2021, the Federal Railroad Administration including a new high-speed line in their regional framework.

The Illinois High Speed Railway Commission is charged with creating an integrated state rail plan with a Chicago – St. Louis high speed line as the trunk.

Learn more about high-speed rail in the Midwest.

A crowd of passengers is waiting on the station platform at Normal, IL as the northbound train arrives. The southbound train is on the opposite track.

Chicago – St. Louis 110-mph project

The Illinois Department of Transportation partnered with the Union Pacific Railroad to rebuild the Joliet to East St. Louis portion of the Chicago – St. Louis Lincoln Corridor.

Often referred to as “high-speed rail”, this was a high-value rebuild of a shared-use line and offers important lessons for shared-use lines across the country.

Learn more about the Lincoln Corridor 110 project

Critical Chicago-Area Projects

Several big projects in Illinois will have huge benefits far beyond the state borders.

Corridors in Illinois

Current progress on – and our ideas for – corridors across Illinois.
(check back for future corridor pages)

High-Speed Backbone

New high-speed lines will offer speed and frequency to transform travel.

Illustration of conceptual CrossRail Chicago station in Bronzeville.

CrossRail Chicago

A vision for a electrified, passenger-dedicated trunkline to and through Chicago.

A southboudn Metra train is arriving at the recently opened Ravenswood station.

UP North Corridor

Chicago – Kenosha – (Racine) – (Milwaukee)

An Amtrak train headed for Milwaukee is arriving at Gelnview.

Milwaukee District North Corridor

Chicago – Fox Lake / Milwaukee

An outbound Metra train is passing traffic on the Kennedy Expressway.

UP Northwest Corridor

Chicago – Barrington – Harvard – (Janesville) – (Madison)

The O'Hare Transfer station is in the foreground and the ramp into an O'Hare parking garage is in the background.

North Central Corridor

Chicago – O’Hare – Antioch

The Dubuque skyline at night.

Milwaukee District West Corridor

Chicago – Elgin – (Rockford) – (Galena) – (Dubuque)

UP West Corridor

Chicago – West Chicago – Elburn – (Dekalb)

BNSF Corridor

Chicago – Aurora – Galesburg – Quincy – (Hannibal)

The new train station in Moline, IL

Rock Island Corridor

Chicago – Joliet – (Starved Rock) – (Peoria) – (Quad Cities)

Lincoln Heritage Corridor

Chicago – Normal – Springfield – St. Louis

The Manhattan IL railroad station

Metra SouthWest Service

Chicago – Orland Park – Manhattan

The railroad station in Rantoul, IL

Illinois Central Corridor

Chicago – Kankakee – Champaign – (Decatur) – Carbondale – Memphis

People are boarding a South Shore train at Dunes Park station on a cold day.

South Shore Corridor

Chicago – Michigan City – South Bend / (Dyer)

A Burlington Trailways bus in downtown Galesburg, IL.

I-74 Corridor

Cedar Rapids – Quad Cities – Galesburg – Peoria – Champaign – Danville – Indianapolis

People are boarding a South Shore train at Dunes Park station on a cold day.

South of the Lake

We need a passenger dedicated line to funnel trains from multiple corridors into Chicago.

The Capitol Building in Springfield, IL

Get Involved

The Illinois General Assembly is debating the future transit and regional rail right now.  The package should include a State Railway Program to invest in bridges, trainsets, and better track.

Learn how you can get involved