Rail Commission Bills Introduced in Illinois and Indiana
We are happy to share that state legislators in Illinois and Indiana have introduced legislation that could play a key role in improving passenger rail throughout the Midwest.
In Illinois, State Representative Martin Moylan has introduced House Bill 399, that would create a High Speed Rail Commission. The commission would be responsible for creating a statewide plan for a high-speed rail line and the feeder network connecting St. Louis and Chicago. This also includes looking at how services like Metra, intercity buses, and Amtrak services to Rockford, Moline, Peoria, Decatur and more would fit into the network.
We have long pushed for Illinois to create a transportation system that meets the economical and environmental challenges of the 21st century. This starts with a statewide plan for modernizing intercity trains, commuter trains, transit systems and buses—and integrating them into a robust, connected network.
This is the statewide vision that this legislation is proposing along with a true high-speed line that will tie the network together.
If the legislation is passed the next steps would be actually creating the statewide plan, conducting a ridership study and recommendations on a governance structure, all with administrative support from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Indiana is also taking steps to improve their statewide network. IN Senate Bill 9 was introduced on January 7th by Senator Dennis Kruse and Senator Jeff Raatz, calls to establish the Indiana Passenger Rail Commission.
The commission would promote and coordinate passenger rail service throughout Indiana. This will allow them to bring together various agencies and stakeholders and see how each piece of the system fits into the larger network.
Taking a more comprehensive approach strengthens the case for each individual project and could help facilitate the return of long anticipated routes, such as the eventual return of passenger rail service to Fort Wayne and northern Indiana.
We are excited by and support both of these efforts, which take a big picture approach to planning intercity passenger rail and integrating transit systems to bring more value to the network.