Moline’s new railroad station is ready for trains. Photo: Rick Harnish
Local Leaders Call for Federal Intervention over Delayed Agreements
This Monday, elected officials provided an update on the long-planned Chicago to Moline passenger rail project. They announced that negotiations between the Illinois Department of Transportation and Iowa Interstate Railroad had broken down. The Iowa Interstate Railroad owns a 55-mile segment of track along the route, and an agreement for running passenger trains there is a critical step to moving forward with the planned service. Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati, Illinois Senator Mike Halpin and State Representative Gregg Johnson are asking the Illinois Department of Transportation and Amtrak to bring the issues to the Surface Transportation Board.
We applaud these elected officials for bringing attention to this important issue.
The Surface Transportation Board recently heard a similar case regarding Amtrak’s Gulf Coast route. Amtrak and the freight railroads who own the track were unable to reach an agreement on how to restore the service, which had been stopped since Hurricane Katrina. The STB held a number of investigative hearings on the issue, and with the pressure of a precedent setting rule-making, Amtrak, CSX, and Norfolk Southern finally reached an agreement to restore service.
Negotiations for running passenger trains on freight tracks is a recurring challenge throughout the country. We need to find a new way of approaching these projects. That’s why we are advocating for a number of policy changes that would make these shared-use projects more attractive to freight railroads and incentivize them to invest in their rail infrastructure. You can read more about theses suggestions on our new website here.