Ride the rail from Rockford to Chicago

An official timeline has not been released, but it’s estimated to be complete in a few years.
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 10:09 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - “We’re the only part of the state not covered to have access to passenger rail service, and I think that’s been a detriment to economic development,” said state senator Steve Stadelman.

In the 2019 capital plan, about $275 million was secured for passenger rail service between Rockford and Chicago, but one citizens advocacy group would like to see that route expanded.

“Illinois has approved Chicago to Rockford, which would be an extension from Elgin to Rockford,” said Ride the Rail co-chair Douglas Spyrison. “That is being implemented, and our current feasibility study, the one that’s underway now, is Rockford to Dubuque.”

If Ride the Rail has its way, Amtrak service would add stops in Huntley, Belvidere and Rockford, plus extend the line to the Iowa-border cities like Galena and Dubuque.

“The feasibility study is going to help us understand the numbers, the costs and the benefits,” Spyrison said.

Spyrison says railways are the safest mode of transportation. They also provide an affordable, more eco-friendly option allowing passengers to work on their commute.

“One of the biggest frustration standpoints I hear from local businesses is trying to attract employees,” Stadelman said.

Stadelman believes people from the Chicagoland area would be willing to take the Amtrak to Rockford for work, if the option was available.

“I think whatever we do to align ourselves and improve easy access into Chicagoland is going to help our area grow.,” Stadelman said.

The planning process for the Rockford-Chicago railway is underway. An official timeline hasn’t been released, but if approved, it could be complete in a few years.

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