Iowa’s long drives call out for trains

Existing Service

Passenger trains are scarce in Iowa.

The once-a-day in each direction California Zephyr serves a number of stations along US-34. And the Southwest Chief serves Fort Madison.

Iowa should work with Congress to add at least one or two daily roundtrips along these routes.

Passengers boarding an Amtrak train at Creston IA, incouding an Amish family.

Passengers boarding an Inter-Regional train at Creston, IA.

Map of potential passenger rail routes in Iowa as listed in the Iowa State Rail Plan.

Iowa State Rail Plan

The Iowa State Rail plan suggests several great routes.  Unfortunately, the state legislature has provided no funds for implementation.

Download the plan.

The Chicago – Des Moines – Omaha “Rock Island” Corridor

The former Rock Island mainline, now owned by the Iowa Interstate, has long been discussed as an important shared-use corridor in the Midwest.

It was included the the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative and was listed as a “pillar” corridor in the 2021 Federal Railroad Administration Midwest plan. The plan assumes 8 daily roundtrips at a top speed of 90 mph.

A initial planning document for the full corridor was completed in 2013.

Iowa received federal funds in 2011 to launch a starter service to Iowa City, but has chosen not to pursue that service.  The first segment from Chicago to Moline has stalled.


The Chicago – Des Moines – Omaha route is one of the Federal Railroad Administration’s pillar corridors.

Cedar Rapids

Several studies have looked at the possibility of running commuter trains between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

A Cedar Rapids – Iowa City – Quad Cities – Chicago regional rail corridor might be a better option.


Chicago – Dubuque

The East Central Intergovernmental Association completed an initial feasibility study of a Chicago – Dubuque route.

Establishing this service is dependent on Illinois launching service between Chicago and Rockford.

Learn more

cafe car rural landscape blur

It’s a Beautiful Country

Let’s see it. Let’s clean it. Let’s build it. Let’s make high speed rail a reality.

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