Illinois Fast Track Initiative: Building the Midwest’s hub

May 03, 2018

Chicago is the hub of the Midwest’s rail system, so strong leadership from the State of Illinois is critical to success throughout the Midwest.

With a gubernatorial election this fall, we hope that the political logjam that has stymied Illinois for years will finally clear. That would bring an opportunity to resume the stalled conversation about investing in transportation, especially passenger rail.

The Illinois Fast Track Initiative is the Midwest High Speed Rail Association’s framework for making fast, frequent and reliable passenger trains a priority. It begins with a statewide plan for a robust network of passenger trains, anchored by a 220-mph “backbone” line. This plan should modeled after California’s bold rail plan, which envisions trains as a convenient option for everyday travel all around the state.

The plan would encourage coordination and cooperation between state agencies, railroads and local governments to invest wisely in targeted upgrades to the existing rail network. Improving existing tracks and connecting them to a new high-speed line would create the heart of a Midwest high-speed network and make same-day round-trips possible between all of Illinois’ major cities and destinations.

We need your help to rekindle the conversation about investing in passenger rail in the Midwest, beginning with Illinois. We’ve made it easy to contact your elected officials and let them know the state needs to begin working on a bold rail plan. Please send a message today.

It’s time to start building a stronger Illinois, and a stronger Midwest, with fast, frequent and reliable trains.

This week at Midwest High Speed Rail Association

Executive Director Rick Harnish traveled to Eau Claire to present to the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition. The Coalition is building regional support to begin rail service from Eau Claire to the Twin Cities. With the Phased Network Approach, this would eventually be complemented by high-speed service from the Twin Cities to Chicago. Downtown Eau Claire is busy and growing, and rail service would capitalize on this momentum and accelerate it.

Extra trains for Tulip Time

Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation are adding extra Pere Marquette service for this year’s Tulip Time festival in Holland. The popularity of these extra trains could be used to demonstrate the need for a permanent increase in service, so we encourage everyone to take advantage of these special runs. Book your tickets for May 12 and 13 now.

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