• Amtrak Peoria - Chicago Proposal

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Jeff Smith
City Web Page: https://www.peoriagov.org/394/Peoria-Passenger-Rail
All aboard the new Peoria to Chicago passenger rail corridor, tracing the historic Rock Island Peoria Rocket route! With this new route, communities like Peru-LaSalle, Utica, Ottawa, and Morris will finally have access to rail service, offering 5 daily round trips to Peoria, Joliet, Chicago Union Station, and more, with a flag stop at the stunning Starved Rock State Park. The Tazewell & Peoria Railroad, Iowa Interstate Railroad, CSX Transportation, Metra, and Amtrak will be involved in bringing this exciting project to life, with a potential of 600 daily riders. Peoria, the largest metropolitan area in Illinois without passenger rail service, is working to get the transportation upgrade it deserves!

The City of Peoria is the largest metropolitan area in Illinois without passenger rail service. However, a feasibility study for a passenger rail between Peoria and Chicago Union Station was conducted by the Illinois Department of Transportation and found that the route is feasible, projected ridership levels are sufficient, and further analysis is warranted.

The initiative to establish passenger rail service in the city and its neighboring areas has received strong support. The plan entails the construction of stations in Peoria, Peru/LaSalle, Utica (as a flag stop for Starved Rock State Park), Ottawa, and Morris, as well as connections in Joliet and Chicago Union Station (CUS).

The Peoria to Chicago Passenger Rail Service aims to increase safety by diverting car trips to rail travel, projected to attract an average of 600 daily riders. Proposed improvements include upgrading 214 at-grade crossings with signals and gates to reduce accidents and evaluating all crossings for possible closure or grade separation. Upgrades to the rail infrastructure, including tracks and bridges, will provide safer transportation for freight trains and on-time performance for Amtrak's proposed five daily roundtrips.
  by Jeff Smith
Older news: PJStar.com
City officials have submitted applications for two federal grants they say will go a long way in helping Peoria secure an Amtrak route to Chicago: The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant (CRISI) and the Federal Rail Association's New Corridor Identification grant.
Both Illinois Secretary of Transportation Omer Osman and Gov. JB Pritzker have voiced their support for the rail line that would travel from Peoria to Chicago while making stops in Morris, Utica, Ottawa, LaSalle-Peru and Joliet.
  by Jeff Smith
Corridor ID: PJStar.com
Peoria takes 'huge next step' in effort to bring Amtrak passenger rail to the city

Peoria will receive $500,000 in federal funding to continue its push to bring an Amtrak passenger rail line to the city.
LaHood, who lives in Peoria, said the rail project would be a major economic development boon for Peoria and the other cities involved on the route including Morris, LaSalle, Utica, Ottawa and Joliet.
Downtown Peoria would be the home to a train station in the city. The downtown post office and riverfront Gateway Building have been identified as the two possible locations.
Step two of the process is where the city of Peoria will have to begin spending some of its own money to the tune of a 10% match of federal funding. In step two, a service development plan is drawn up in which capital projects are identified.
  by ryanwc
>will finally have access to rail service, offering 5 daily round trips

Um, first off, this is just a study, and secondly, I don't think a Peoria wiggleworm is getting the service levels of the St. Louis route anytime soon.

Anyone surprised at a Starved Rock flag stop? I do think Starved Rock would get a lot of patronage, arguably more than LaSalle/Peru or Utica. I might not be personally opposed to using a flag stop, if I understood that it would be reliable, but it has a feel of ad hoc haphazardness that seems out of touch with our over-planned era. How many flag stops does Amtrak have these days? And it's easier to understand how it would work for disembarkation than for boarding. Surely passengers won't be waving a flag. Will there be some sort of electronic button? I'd be worried the train didn't get the message and would go flying by, leaving me stranded.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Here's all you would ever want to know regarding Flag Stops in the Amtrak era:


During '56, along with 30 or so "parolees" I
(15yo) boarded at Kapitachuan Club, PQ the then-overnight train to Montreal.

The camp Director knew to set the signal which was two lanterns - one Green and the other White. The Engineer on the Steam locomotive (probably a 4-8-2) knew how to set the train smack in front of the two Sleepers (mine was named "Macdougal"). I'm sure the CN knew in advance this party would be boarding there.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Fri Dec 08, 2023 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by ryanwc
The link was helpful. Thanks. Of course flagstops would be dictated by the existence of at least one ticketed passenger. Makes perfect sense in retrospect.
  by John_Perkowski
I just looked at the route on Google maps. Questions…
Who owns this trackage now? If it’s a road other than a predecessor road in RPSA ‘70, do the provisions of the act apply?
What is the FRA class of this trackage?
How many miles of track would require renovation to Class 4?
Within Chicago, does this track link into the Union Station trackage without hassle?

This is what the $500 K study will pay for, at a 50,000 foot overview.

Then, there’ll be a $5 million study documenting the details.

Then, and only then, will there be an appropriation to provide the funding.
  by ryanwc
The PJ Star offers some figures along those lines. Interestingly, the city of Peoria, not IDOT, is the sponsor of this service. The same is true of some of the other announcements yesterday - Eau Claire, WI and Fort Wayne, IN are sponsors.:

>Step one of the process includes building a schedule and budget for service development planning and figuring out the corridor-specific scope of the project.

>Step two of the process is where the city of Peoria will have to begin spending some of its own money to the tune of a 10% match of federal funding. In step two, a service development plan is drawn up in which capital projects are identified.

>City Manager Patrick Urich estimated Peoria will have to spend roughly $200,000 in step two.

(Poster's note -- So that phase will cost roughly $2 million)

>Step three is where preliminary engineering for the project will be done and an environmental review will happen. In this phase, Peoria will have to put up a 20% match to whatever federal funding comes in. Urich said the city has already budgeted for this expense.

I wonder whether Peoria is seeking/receiving contributions from other towns on the proposed route. The Mayor of Morris, IL was at the press conference.
  by John_Perkowski
I saw this happen 15 years ago with trying to extend the Heartland Flyer to Newton. Watch the politicians. The wrong politicians will kill this in an instant.
  by WashingtonPark
Exactly. Everybody that's getting all excited about these planning grants needs to realize this is simply a study on how many billions need to be spent to have the service requested. It is a first step, but most of them wind up gathering dust on a shelf waiting for appropriation grants that never come in.
  by ryanwc
Peoria service is another routing that seems contingent on CHIP completion, since it would run on the Rock from Joliet.

A lot of this feels like cart before horse stuff -- pretending that you can run another Pittsburgh train through Columbus, another Cleveland train, 5 Peoria round trips, a new Detroit/Windsor train, all without solving the South Side Swamp.
  by Tadman
This route has always made a lot of sense to me. If you've ever driven Chicago to Peoria, you know why. There are no interstates. There are not even any direct routes. You take 80 west until your preferred combination of I-39 and country roads winds you up in Peoria. Hardly ideal for a city that has a large presence with Caterpillar. Even though the headquarters is now Dallas and some guys in the north suburbs, a 79mph train would be a great idea.

You also have two routes out of Chicago, neither of which are problematic. Ex-GM&O, which could get a Midway shuttle station at the existing Summit Metra station (why don't the Saint Louis trains have this already?) or the Rock. Now if they use the Rock, you might consider using LaSalle station. This is not a fancy train, it doesn't need checked baggage or diner supplies, nobody is going to wait two hours to board.

And if you use LaSalle and the Rock, this begs the question: why is Amtrak involved at all? If the train is locally/state supported, they could contract IAIS operating crews, Metra motors, and Metra cars (their seats are somewhat suitable for 2-3 hour rides). Maybe the coaches are a contracted sub-fleet of Metra cars with better seats for a longer ride. This is politically a very attractive concept to northern Illinois politicians, they love local initiatives (because they have their hands out...).
  by eolesen
The fact IDOT decided to contract with Metra to Rockford says they'd probably be willing to contract with them elsewhere.
  by Gilbert B Norman
I guess that the original Amtrak service was "born and buried" over a thirteen month period beginning September 1980 is reason enough to have no consideration of the GM&O-Chenoa-TP&W route over which the "Prairie Marksman" operated. After all, who knows what kind of shape the "Tip Up" (Illinois railfanese for the TP&W) is in nowadays. Further, what kind of shape is the Rock Island in West of Joliet, which I think is operated today by Chessie.

Who knows what the consultants will dream up, but thus far in our discussion, we have not mentioned the historical route using the TP&W.
  by Roadgeek Adam
The problems are

1) the Prairie Marksman ended in East Peoria, away from everything. Even Pekin has all the development.
2) the service had a stop in Eureka for a very short time before they pulled the plug.
3) the Prairie Marksman was always a test service.

The new service should be downtown and make it easier for Bradley University students to use. Plus, we could use this as an excuse to get service back to Chillicothe.