Is Rockford's Dream of Amtrak in the Forest City by 2015 Realistic?

- Rockford- It has been four months since Governor Pat Quinn announced that Amtrak would be riding into Rockford by the end of next year. State Senator Steve Stadelman held a town hall meeting on Wednesday to let area residents know everything is going according to plan.

Stadelman says, “[IDOT is] still very much in the engineering phase right now: figuring what exact work needs to be done, and what improvements the track needs.”

The passenger rail service would run daily, leaving for Chicago in the morning and returning to Rockford that night.

Senator Dave Syverson supports Amtrak coming to the Forest City, but he’s skeptical on the timeframe. “Part of it is because of the longer delays it took in negotiating with the rail companies," Syverson says.  "They changed the routes that rails were gonna go [on].  And then, you have to find the money to do the upgrading of the rails, and then you have to contract out who is going to be doing [the work]."

Syverson is also worried that there won’t be enough volume of passengers daily for a Rockford Amtrak line to be financially viable. That’s one of the problems that stopped the service from coming to Rockford four years ago, when Senator Dick Durbin provided research that anticipated the train service would not garner enough passengers.

Syverson says, "If there isn't a large number of ridership, there's concern Amtrak will either pull back [their service] limit or not run”

IDOT officials are not sure how many passengers would be needed to make Amtrak in Rockford successful, but they’re confident in their timeframe. They say the biggest difference this time around is that they’re working with Union Pacific. They say they are meeting with Amtrak and Union Pacific regularly to make sure they will meet their deadline.

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