High Speed Rail in The Midwest

The heart of the rail system. The future of travel in America.

Region in Brief

The Midwest is Central to Making the National Network Work: Physically and Politically

Home to dozens of major and mid-sized cities, the Midwest is roughly the size of France, home to Europe’s first high-speed trains. The area served by Spain’s high-speed network is also similar in size.

The Issues

The Midwest must think regionally to compete on the world stage. A trip of less than 3 hours between most major cities would take its productivity and innovation to the next level.

The Obstacles

Multiple states must work together to achieve success, with Illinois and Indiana shouldering the greatest burdens. It will take a strong federal program to reach full potential, but the states can make great progress with the existing programs.

More Insights

220-MPH trains are the Backbone of a New System

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

CrossRail Chicago is the Foundation

Converting and linking existing routes into passenger-dedicated lines is essential

O’Hare needs a train station

O’Hare is the region’s gateway to the world, it should be easy to get there

Midwest Region Map

State of Development

The Federal Railroad Administration recently created a new framework called the Midwest Regional Rail Plan.

It is much more aggressive than the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, proposed by nine Midwest states, led by Wisconsin.

The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission intends to further develop the FRA’s framework.

Getting from here to there will mean:

  • Creating “regional” lines in Chicago to serve as the heart of the system
  • Building new high-speed lines on several key routes
  • New partnerships with private railroads to operate Regional Rail on shared-use lines
  • Connecting trains to the planes at O’Hare and other major airports

High Speed Rail Starts With Chicago

As the nation’s railroad hub, Chicago has a pivotal role to play in making high-speed rail a reality in the U.S.

Chicago’s four terminal stations offer direct service to 525 stations in 36 states. There is potential for many more. What happens in Chicago truly has a national impact.

Issues: Existing stations and tracks can be upgraded to create electrified, passenger-dedicated routes into and through the city, connecting cities and towns across the region.

Obstacles: Civic, business, and political leaders must rally around an ambitious vision for reinvigorating Chicago with a reimagined transportation system. The money will follow the vision.

Chicago Union Station Breezeway

Fixing Chicago Union Station is essential to the National passenger rail network. Photo: Rick Harnish.

Critical Chicago-Area Projects

These projects are building blocks towards creating the Nation’s high-speed rail hub.

Chicago Union Station Sears

Midwest Action: Tell DOT Secretary Pete To Fund “CHIP”

Amtrak is seeking federal funds to upgrade Chicago Union Station and create better routes into the station. This is the first phase of a program to modernize infrastructure in the Chicago area.

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Midwest States

Each state has a unique role to play in the national big-picture.

Chicago Union Station Sears

Illinois: The Nation’s Rail Hub

Nationwide success depends upon Illinois’ leadership

Indianapolis aerial

Indiana: Crossroads of America

Geography is a key competitive advantage for Indiana

Downtown Des Moines Iowa

Iowa: Foundation in Education

Iowa’s long drives call out for trains

Detroit Skyline at night, with river in foreground.

Michigan: A Diamond in the Rough

Few states can rival Michigan’s combination of existing assets and untapped potential

Minnesota cityscape

Minnesota: An Emerging Powerhouse

Minnesota is long overdue for great passenger train service

St Louis Union Station with sun shining on the tower.

Missouri: Show Me the Trains

Missouri is one of the few states with two major cities: Kansas City and St. Louis

Cleveland Was Memorial in foreground, Terminal Tower in background.

Ohio: Gateway Between East and West

The state is pivotal to creating a network of fast, frequent trains

Milwaukee Union Station

Wisconsin: Hub of the Heartland

Wisconsin has incredible assets and possibilities

smiling girl on train platform

Get Involved No Matter Where You Live

Buckeye? Cheesehead? Hoosier? Yooper or on the Mitten? Wherever you are, you can get involved in the High Speed Rail Alliance. We started in the Midwest. With you, we can keep growing across the country.


Corridors Connect The Midwest

Have breakfast in Chicago. Have lunch in Cleveland. Get back home in time for dinner.

A Midwest high-speed rail network will make it possible. The network will combine dedicated high-speed lines, upgraded shared-use lines (i.e., lines with passenger and freight trains) and transit systems.

Upgraded train service in a few key corridors can be the foundation for a dense network of fast, frequent trains across the region.

That’s how we all grow.

Connect the Nation. Expand Your Mind.

As activists, we have to think nationally, act locally, and learn constantly. In growing high speed rail capacity in the Upper Midwest, we can take our movement across the country.

Icon United States Connect Dots

Many regions. Many challenges. More possibilities.

High speed rail doesn’t happen all at once. It happens when regions work independently and work together.

Explore all the High Speed Rail Regions

Knowledge is power. Let’s get it done.

The most effective activism is educated activism. Our High Speed Rail guide gives you the background to move forward.

Learn more in High Speed Rail 101

cafe car rural landscape blur

Transform The Upper Midwest

Make the Midwest the heart of American rail again.

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