Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed a bill authorizing the formation of the Illinois High-Speed Railway Commission.
The commission will be responsible for creating a statewide plan for a high-speed line and feeder network connecting Chicago to St. Louis. It will be integrated with existing Amtrak and Metra services, intercity bus service, and connect the Illinois cities of Rockford, Moline, Peoria, and Decatur.
“Establishing high-speed rail lines that connect Chicago, St. Louis, and several other cities throughout Illinois will create thousands of jobs, spur economic growth, lower carbon emissions, improve transportation safety and relieve congestion in cities,” Rick Harnish, executive director of the High Speed Rail Alliance (HSRA), said in a statement. HSRA has been advocating for the creation of the commission for more than three years.
Under the newly passed law, the commission has been tasked with conducting a ridership study and issuing its findings and recommendations concerning a governance structure, the frequency of service, and implementation of the plan. The commission is required to provide yearly reports and be assisted by the state Department of Transportation.
The proposed high-speed rail line 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.
The commission is authorized to work from the bill’s signing through 2026.
SOURCE: High Speed Rail Alliance