Quinn Announces Passenger Rail for Rockford in 2015

At a press conference in Rockford on Thursday, Governor Pat Quinn announced passenger rail service from Rockford to Chicago.
[ROCKFORD] -- At a press conference in Rockford on Thursday afternoon, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) announced a $233 million agreement with Union Pacific Railroad (NYSE: UNP) to bring passenger rail to the stateline.

"We are a railroad state and this is a railroad town," said Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL).

And Gov. Quinn says it's time to make Rockford that way again, utilizing existing tracks for passenger trains.

"We are going to begin this very time, this Spring and Summer working on building passenger rail from Chicago to Elgin to Huntley to Belvidere to Rockford," said Gov. Quinn.

But this promise has been made before. The same words were spoken four years ago when Gov. Quinn promised passenger rail would be ready by 2012. The Governor blames the inaction on negotiations with Canadian National Railway which fell through in the end. Now, the plan is to use Union Pacific tracks.

"It's the right line for us, it's our line in the area and again it's under utilized," said Lance Fritz, President and Chief Operating Officer of Union Pacific.

And utilizing it means Belvidere will now have a train station. An idea that was dropped 2 years before, until Thursday's big announcement.

"It simply now gives us another economic development opportunity for people to commute to jobs east, and from people from east from collar counties and from Chicago to come visit us," said Mayor Mike Chamberlain, (R-Belvidere).

Construction will begin as soon, and the goal is to have trains up and running for the public by 2015. Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey says with the approval of the Amerock deal only days ago, and now the promise of passenger rail, Rockford could really be moving forward to a promising future.

"We want to be, all of us, part of a prosperous community," said Mayor Morrissey (I-Rockford). "This isn't the only thing but it's a really important thing that helps build an anchor, a foundation, for a prosperous community.

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