Funding for Amtrak rail services will see a $16 million cut in spending under Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget. This budget is among billions of dollars in cuts designed to relieve state debt.
This cut in spending is a somewhat unanticipated move considering it follows a unanimously approved bill by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that would provide $8 billion in funding for Amtrak.
The cut in funding will result in fewer trains running between Chicago and St. Louis and Chicago and Carbondale. Southern Illinois Amtrak riders, especiallly passengers riding the those the Quincy/Chicago line, may be the first to notice the scale back in transportation options.
Currently, the state subsidizes four trains operating between Chicago and St. Louis, including the Normal, Ill., stop which ranks among the highest for passenger totals in the Midwest because of its proximity to Illinois State University.
Illinois state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said any reductions should only affect trains or stops that are underperforming.
It remains unclear how the proposed budget will impact rail service between Chicago and the Quad Cities, which leans on federal funding for rail service construction and maintenance.
Rauner’s budget plan also puts construction upgrades between Chicago and Moline on hold.