Story originally written by William C Vantuono on August 9th, 2021 for Railway Age. A link to the original story may be found HERE.
Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Aug. 6 signed HB0399, a bill authorizing the formation of the Illinois High-Speed Railway Commission, which will be responsible for creating a statewide plan for a high-speed line and feeder network connecting Chicago to St. Louis.
Illinois Reps. Martin J. Moylan, Dave Vella, Carol Ammons, Debbie Meyers-Martin, Jonathan Carroll and Dan Ugaste; and Sens. Steve Stadelman, Scott M. Bennett, David Koehler and Laura M. Murphy co-sponsored HB0399.
The Commission will be composed of the Governor, President of the Senate, Minority Leader of the Senate, Speaker of the House, Minority Leader of the House, and Secretary of Transportation, Chairperson of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, Chairperson of the Illinois Commerce Commission, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Metra and Mayor of the City of Chicago, or their designees. It will also include representatives of a yet-to-be-named rail labor organization and a trade organization related to the rail industry; and representatives of the Metropolitan Mayors and Managers Association, Illinois Railroad Association, University of Illinois System, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Illinois Municipal League, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Region 1 Planning, McLean County Regional Commission and East-West Gateway Council of Governments.
The Commission, which is authorized through 2026, has been tasked with conducting a ridership study and issuing its findings and recommendations concerning a governance structure, frequency of service and implementation of the plan. The commission is required to provide annual year-end reports and be assisted by the state Department of Transportation.
The HSR line will be integrated with existing Amtrak and Metra services, intercity bus service and connect the Illinois cities of Rockford, Moline, Peoria and Decatur. It would start at O’Hare International Airport and take just 127 minutes to reach downtown St. Louis, stopping at Champaign-Urbana in less than an hour. Springfield would be 78 minutes away from Chicago’s Union Station. Champaign to downtown Indianapolis would take about a half-hour.
Undetermined at this point is if the proposed HSR service would utilize any part of (or all of) Amtrak’s existing HrSR (higher-speed rail) Lincoln Service route linking Chicago and St. Louis. Portions of this line have been upgraded to 110 mph. Union Pacific owns the right-of-way, which is a secondary freight line.