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 Inter-Regional train at Creston, IA.
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.
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.