Midwest Rail Plan final Report

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neroden

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This really shouldn't be a partisan political issue.

Yeah, but you could say that about practically every current partisan political issue. Should we be wearing masks in public during an airborne pandemic? Should citizens be able to vote without having their right taken away by tricks and suppression? Should insurrectionists violently attack the Capitol?

Those ARE partisan political issues now, although they SHOULDN'T be, and they used to not be. Rail service shouldn't be either, but here we are.

In some states, none of these are partisan political issues (Massachusetts!) but in most of the country, this is how far we've sunk.

I realize I'm essentially supporting what you said.
 
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Or will he? Unfortunately, we discovered in Iowa that a fanatically anti-rail Republican legislature can kill a rail project even if the governor supports it and it's 80% federally funded.

Regarding our General Assembly, what you are saying is very true. They have thwarted several important issues that he strongly supported in the past 3+ years. There are some rail supporters in Ohio who are "somewhat excited" about the candidacy of Dayton's Mayor for the Democratic nomination for Governor because she has announced her support for 3C+D if she is elected. But, realistically, she will still have to work with a likely GOP General Assembly.
 

GoAmtrak

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By pure chance I just read Fort Madison, Iowa re-opened its old railway station in downtown, with the first train stopping there in mid-december: Amtrak is back in Fort Madison - Radio Iowa

I like that move. The other train station was one without character and was a 30 minutes walk away from the city center. Questionable urban planning again. Now passengers directly arrive in the old albeit small city center.

By the way, how does it work Google Maps adapting changes? Can people possessing a Google conto add or relocate localities on Google Maps? Does somebody know about it? It would be bad for people going to the wrong place when looking for the train station.

Those are small steps towards better passenger railway transport. Another location of a train station I don't like is that of South Bend, Indiana which is also over half an hour away from the city center. Why don't they re-use the old union station which is close to downtown? Is it because South Bend is also on the South Shore line and they don't make extend that line that few miles further? That's not a true reason.
 

jis

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I don't like is that of South Bend, Indiana which is also over half an hour away from the city center. Why don't they re-use the old union station which is close to downtown? Is it because South Bend is also on the South Shore line and they don't make extend that line that few miles further? That's not a true reason.
That could not be the or even a reason since CSSSB trains do not go to the South Bend Amtrak station any more, and haven't done so in ages now.

They have occasionally made noises about getting the CSSSB to terminate at or near the South Bend Union Station location, but there is always something or the other that intervenes. The present Federal SecDOT was very much in favor of such a scheme when he was the Mayor of South Bend.

The fact that the old Union Station is located right at an important congested interlocking of course does not help getting NS on board, though there is a way to isolate the passenger line from the interlocking. But of course it costs quite a bit of money.
 

chrsjrcj

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By the way, how does it work Google Maps adapting changes? Can people possessing a Google conto add or relocate localities on Google Maps? Does somebody know about it? It would be bad for people going to the wrong place when looking for the train station.

Transit agencies typically export GTFS data which include schedules and stop locations that Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc., can use. The information on Google Maps is only as accurate as the data they receive from a transit agency is.
 

joelkfla

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Transit agencies typically export GTFS data which include schedules and stop locations that Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc., can use. The information on Google Maps is only as accurate as the data they receive from a transit agency is.
Anyone can submit a correction to a place in Google Maps, but the data feed does include coordinates for stops. I think you could end up with 2 markers on the map: one from the data feed showing the icon for the transportation mode, and another showing a generic place marker.
 

GoAmtrak

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Anyone can submit a correction to a place in Google Maps, but the data feed does include coordinates for stops. I think you could end up with 2 markers on the map: one from the data feed showing the icon for the transportation mode, and another showing a generic place marker.
Thank you. I tried it. I was able to add something, but there was no category like "railway station", "public transport" or somehing like that. So, I couldn't add a blue train sign being used by Via Rail or Amtrak on Google Maps. Perhaps only transportation agencies are able to do that.

The fact that the old Union Station is located right at an important congested interlocking of course does not help getting NS on board, though there is a way to isolate the passenger line from the interlocking. But of course it costs quite a bit of money.
I understand. I just thought Amtrak lines pass close to South Bend Union Station nonetheless, so why not stop there. And of course it would be great to expand the South Shore to South Bend Union Station to give connections without always going to Chicago.

The Indiana Government still acts like we would be in the 1970's. I'm convinced the money is there, they probably just prefer to spend it on highways and airports. On a huge budget, they thought about 3 million for the Hoosier State Train wouldn't be there. Highways crowded? Okay, let's build an additonal lane. It's a ridiculous. They act like an environmental crisis doesn't exist.
 

GoAmtrak

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Or will he? Unfortunately, we discovered in Iowa that a fanatically anti-rail Republican legislature can kill a rail project even if the governor supports it and it's 80% federally funded.
An interesting article about expanding passenger railway in Ohio.

A timeline is set for summer 2022 to signal Amtrak their interest for expanding. Nothing happened yet. They are still unsure. John Kasich memorial highway incoming :rolleyes:

If the Ohio government doesn't take this chance even if they don't have to pay for the first five years... then we probably end up waiting for another 50 years... Or 250 years. Cultural backwardness might be endless.

Who wants to inform some Ohio politicians in power that the 21st century started? And to gain in the long term, you are forced to invest first? Crazy idea, but it does work often.
 
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An interesting article about expanding passenger railway in Ohio.

A timeline is set for summer 2022 to signal Amtrak their interest for expanding. Nothing happened yet. They are still unsure. John Kasich memorial highway incoming :rolleyes:

If the Ohio government doesn't take this chance even if they don't have to pay for the first five years... then we probably end up waiting for another 50 years... Or 250 years. Cultural backwardness might be endless.

Who wants to inform some Ohio politicians in power that the 21st century started? And to gain in the long term, you are forced to invest first? Crazy idea, but it does work often.
Unfortunately that article requires a subscription to read. Could you summarize its conclusions?
 

neroden

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The question of what it will take to shift politics in Ohio and Indiana is a difficult one. But it really seems close.

If you look at the voting patterns, you'll see that the cities in both states are ready to support public transportation, as are most of the suburbs, while the rural areas are fanatically anti-rail, and have just enough votes and gerrymandering to (with the anti-rail portions of the suburbs) control the state legislature and declare "nothing but roads".

The long-term trends say that the tipping point will happen eventually, but the drift towards the cities has been slow in Ohio; much slower than in the average state, due to losing population from the major cities. Ohio was 22.1% rural in 2010, down from 24.7% in 1980. Indiana was 26.6% rural in 2010, down from 35.1% in 1980 (much faster shift). 2020 data is not ready due to subtle redefinitions of "urban area" boundaries which appear to be currently going through the Federal Register process.

The much faster shift to cities in Indiana means it may switch to being supportive first, though -- perhaps state backing for the West Lake Corridor is a harbinger of things to come.

Here's that 2010-and-earlier data ("urban" includes suburbs):

If you look at the "urban percentage" and eyeball it with the reputation the state has for supporting / opposing public transportation, it correlates, with more urban places tending to have more public transportation. Perhaps unsurprising.

You'll see that everywhere with an urban percentage over 80% is supportive of public transportation, except Texas (where the gerrymandered state government is fighting with all the cities at once; this can't last).

Of course, you'll notice that Maine and Vermont (the two most rural states) are wild outliers, being very supportive of public transportation. The states with less than 70% urban population mostly have anti-public-transportation reputations, though Maine, Vermont, North Carolina, Oklahoma to some extent, and arguably Alaska are exceptions.

Those in the 70%-80% range are a mixed bag and seem to have really vicious fights over public transportation. It really should be possible to push the needle in the right direction in Ohio and Indiana.
 
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The question of what it will take to shift politics in Ohio and Indiana is a difficult one. But it really seems close.

If you look at the voting patterns, you'll see that the cities in both states are ready to support public transportation, as are most of the suburbs, while the rural areas are fanatically anti-rail, and have just enough votes and gerrymandering to (with the anti-rail portions of the suburbs) control the state legislature and declare "nothing but roads".

The long-term trends say that the tipping point will happen eventually, but the drift towards the cities has been slow in Ohio; much slower than in the average state, due to losing population from the major cities. Ohio was 22.1% rural in 2010, down from 24.7% in 1980. Indiana was 26.6% rural in 2010, down from 35.1% in 1980 (much faster shift). 2020 data is not ready due to subtle redefinitions of "urban area" boundaries which appear to be currently going through the Federal Register process.

The much faster shift to cities in Indiana means it may switch to being supportive first, though -- perhaps state backing for the West Lake Corridor is a harbinger of things to come.

Here's that 2010-and-earlier data ("urban" includes suburbs):

If you look at the "urban percentage" and eyeball it with the reputation the state has for supporting / opposing public transportation, it correlates, with more urban places tending to have more public transportation. Perhaps unsurprising.

You'll see that everywhere with an urban percentage over 80% is supportive of public transportation, except Texas (where the gerrymandered state government is fighting with all the cities at once; this can't last).

Of course, you'll notice that Maine and Vermont (the two most rural states) are wild outliers, being very supportive of public transportation. The states with less than 70% urban population mostly have anti-public-transportation reputations, though Maine, Vermont, North Carolina, Oklahoma to some extent, and arguably Alaska are exceptions.

Those in the 70%-80% range are a mixed bag and seem to have really vicious fights over public transportation. It really should be possible to push the needle in the right direction in Ohio and Indiana.
Interesting. I wonder if better advocacy as to how trains can benefit even a rural population might help turn the tide
-Rural areas benefit from increased intercity service with stops at nearby locations.
- most rural areas have aging populations and driving especially long distances can be difficult. Travel often needed to nearby cities for medical care. For a retired person time is not as much of an issue.
- much more relaxing than flying.
 
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- most rural areas have aging populations and driving especially long distances can be difficult. Travel often needed to nearby cities for medical care. For a retired person time is not as much of an issue.
Just as in cities, most of the mobility people needs is local. In really rural areas, it might be cheaper to just give elderly people who can't drive vouchers for Uber, etc. (although in some small towns, they don't even have taxis or Uber.) Traffic congestion is really not an issue in small town rural America (though it could be in the exurbs). Neither is air pollution, unless it's being blown over from a big city.

The main advantage of Amtrak for rural people is that it can give them mobility to access the closest large cities without having to drive all the way there and deal with the heavy urban traffic, parking, and so forth. Some of the larger small towns and cities in rural areas that can support a rental car agency can benefit from tourist traffic. Also, I wonder how "rabidly anti rail" rural people really are. Support for passenger rail may not be high on their personal agenda, which might cause them to vote for candidates who are "rabidly anti-rail" because of the candidates' position on other issues, which are more important to the average rural voter. I know I don't agree with all of the policies and positions of the candidates I vote for. I have to prioritize issues and make a choice about which candidate best aligns with my views.
 

GoAmtrak

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Unfortunately that article requires a subscription to read. Could you summarize its conclusions?
Nothing really new was in the article. The only thing which stood out was the timeline states should reach Amtrak regarding their 2035 proposals: summer 2022. Unfortunately nothing concrete apart from this. The Ohio officials seem to be undecided. They shouldn't wait, they waited long enough to do something for passenger rail (in contrast, money for highways is rarely a problem isn't it).


Another project caught the attention of Amtrak, this time one which isn't in their 2035 plan: It's a connection in Illinois, between Joliet and Peoria, eventually bringing passenger railway back to Peoria for the first time since 1978 (?). Peoria could also get a direct connection to Chicago that way. Intermediate stops being proposed are Morris, Ottawa and Peru, IL.
StackPath

I learned Morris, Ottawa, Peru and Peoria all still possess old train stations in their towns, located along the line being considered. It would be nice to bring life back to those old stations :)

Illinois already has quite a good passenger railway network (compared to other Midwestern US states) and with this move, could improve further.
 
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I wasn't aware of any plans to restore service on the old Rock Island to Peoria. I don't think it's in the Illinois state rail plan. The previous discussions about serving Peoria involved connecting at Normal to the Lincoln Service route to take advantage of the improvements to that line.

Service on the old Rock Island would be as much about the intermediate stops as Peoria. Being able to get to the popular Starved Rock State Park from metro Chicago without driving (Starved Rock being a big economic factor in the area, someone would run a shuttle if there was a train) would be great! This article includes a survey, and I filled it out because I probably would take the train to the Starved Rock area if it (and a shuttle) existed.
 

Eric S

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Running a Thruway bus shuttle between Peoria and Normal, connecting with all (or at least most) trains at Normal would be a great start. There are a number of possible Thruway connections I'd like to see added/improved, or at least considered/studied, in Illinois (Champaign - Decatur - Springfield, as an example). I guess that's probably the case in most states/regions.
 

rs9

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I wasn't aware of any plans to restore service on the old Rock Island to Peoria. I don't think it's in the Illinois state rail plan. The previous discussions about serving Peoria involved connecting at Normal to the Lincoln Service route to take advantage of the improvements to that line.

Service on the old Rock Island would be as much about the intermediate stops as Peoria. Being able to get to the popular Starved Rock State Park from metro Chicago without driving (Starved Rock being a big economic factor in the area, someone would run a shuttle if there was a train) would be great! This article includes a survey, and I filled it out because I probably would take the train to the Starved Rock area if it (and a shuttle) existed.

Yes a thousand times over as a Chicago resident. I've tried to figure out a bike route from the Mendota Amtrak station to Starved Rock, but it's simply too far and probably not remotely safe.
 
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That's very interesting about Peoria service. First I've heard too. The only thing expansion-wise I've heard recently (other than Quad Cities and Rockford) was talk about a Metra extension to Oswego.
 

jis

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Here is the article that I could access without any subscription:


It is something that Peoria City Managers are studying to produce a report to take to Illinois DOT and Amtrak at some point apparently.
 

MikefromCrete

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This Peoria proposal just came out of nowhere. It's not part of the Midwest report and IDOT is probably leary of it since the failure of the short-term Prairie Marksman many years ago.
 

MisterUptempo

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Saw the report about Peoria service a couple of days ago. It's actually a pretty smart play on Peoria's part.

As everyone here knows well, Amtrak wants to re-establish service in several parts of the country and is willing to shoulder the upfront costs and a healthy portion of the operating subsidy for a number of years, provided the states then agree to take over the responsibility for funding the operating subsidies later on.

So, what if Ohio, for example, says, "No, thanks." to the 3C+D? Or three states turn down Amtrak's offer? Or six states? Would it not be a good idea for Peoria to have a project in its back pocket, ready to develop if Ohio or Indiana or some other state throws away another chance at passenger rail?

Regarding the Prairie Marksman, it didn't take the old Rock Island route and only stopped at Joliet between Chicago and Peoria. The articles I've read state that the Rock Island route is what was being looked at for this revival, and would terminate in Peoria proper, not East Peoria.

Something to consider - several years ago, the towns of the Illinois Valley produced a study in which they looked at extending Metra-Rock Island service from Joliet, through the valley, all the way to LaSalle-Peru. In the final analysis, it was decided if anything would be done, they'd run DMUs between LaSalle-Peru and Joliet, stopping at the old Rock Island platform west of UD interlocking, with passengers making their way over to the new Rock Island platform east of UD, board Metra there, and continue onto Chicago. The fact that the new route would service three towns already looking at rail service might mean Peoria wouldn't stand alone in advocating for it.

A few concerns I have about the project-

The Chicago to Joliet segment is a bit of a mystery. I don't see CN allowing any new trains onto the Heritage Corridor (former Alton/GMO) line to Joliet. As it is the STB has told Amtrak they need to get Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains off that line at some point.

Here's a question I have. Here is an overhead shot of Joliet UD interlocking, Heritage Corridor tracks are the two right tracks running north-south; the former Rock Island is the single track running east-west. Even if a Rock Island track was put down on the far south end of that viaduct, could a train safely turn off the Heritage onto the Rock? It looks awfully tight.
n0gywh7.png


If the Rock Island route between Chicago and Joliet was utilized, the project would have to be put on hold until a connector at either 16th Street or 40th Street was constructed, or they'd have to originate trips to Peoria from LaSalle Street Station.

Another point about UD interlocking - when Joliet Union Station was reconfigured 5 years ago or so, Metra ceded control of UD interlocking to BNSF and UP. The Metra-Rock Island platform was moved to the other side of UD to keep the freights moving through with no Metra interference. Would BNSF and UP even consider the possibility of allowing passenger trains to run through UD again?

Also, just west of UD the old Rock Island tracks all the way to Utica form the New Rock subdivision, held by CSX. Considering how hostile CSX has become about allowing even a single new train onto their tracks, does this project even stand a chance?

West of Utica to Bureau Junction and down to Peoria, the tracks belong to Iowa Interstate. Haven't they been a little difficult about the Wyanet-Moline segment of the long-delayed Quad Cities service already?

I would really like to see this happen. Too many questions right now to be confident it will.
 
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WWW

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Saw the report about Peoria service a couple of days ago. It's actually a pretty smart play on Peoria's part.

As everyone here knows well, Amtrak wants to re-establish service in several parts of the country and is willing to shoulder the upfront costs and a healthy portion of the operating subsidy for a number of years, provided the states then agree to take over the responsibility for funding the operating subsidies later on.

So, what if Ohio, for example, says, "No, thanks." to the 3C+D? Or three states turn down Amtrak's offer? Or six states? Would it not be a good idea for Peoria to have a project in its back pocket, ready to develop if Ohio or Indiana or some other state throws away another chance at passenger rail?

Regarding the Prairie Marksman, it didn't take the old Rock Island route and only stopped at Joliet between Chicago and Peoria. The articles I've read state that the Rock Island route is what was being looked at for this revival, and would terminate in Peoria proper, not East Peoria.

Something to consider - several years ago, the towns of the Illinois Valley produced a study in which they looked at extending Metra-Rock Island service from Joliet, through the valley, all the way to LaSalle-Peru. In the final analysis, it was decided if anything would be done, they'd run DMUs between LaSalle-Peru and Joliet, stopping at the old Rock Island platform west of UD interlocking, with passengers making their way over to the new Rock Island platform east of UD, board Metra there, and continue onto Chicago. The fact that the new route would service three towns already looking at rail service might mean Peoria wouldn't stand alone in advocating for it.

A few concerns I have about the project-

The Chicago to Joliet segment is a bit of a mystery. I don't see CN allowing any new trains onto the Heritage Corridor (former Alton/GMO) line to Joliet. As it is the STB has told Amtrak they need to get Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains off that line at some point.

Here's a question I have. Here is an overhead shot of Joliet UD interlocking, Heritage Corridor tracks are the two right tracks running north-south; the former Rock Island is the single track running east-west. Even if a Rock Island track was put down on the far south end of that viaduct, could a train safely turn off the Heritage onto the Rock? It looks awfully tight.
n0gywh7.png


If the Rock Island route between Chicago and Joliet was utilized, the project would have to be put on hold until a connector at either 16th Street or 40th Street was constructed, or they'd have to originate trips to Peoria from LaSalle Street Station.

Another point about UD interlocking - when Joliet Union Station was reconfigured 5 years ago or so, Metra ceded control of UD interlocking to BNSF and UP. The Metra-Rock Island platform was moved to the other side of UD to keep the freights moving through with no Metra interference. Would BNSF and UP even consider the possibility of allowing passenger trains to run through UD again?

Also, just west of UD the old Rock Island tracks all the way to Utica form the New Rock subdivision, held by CSX. Considering how hostile CSX has become about allowing even a single new train onto their tracks, does this project even stand a chance?

West of Utica to Bureau Junction and down to Peoria, the tracks belong to Iowa Interstate. Haven't they been a little difficult about the Wyanet-Moline segment of the long-delayed Quad Cities service already?

I would really like to see this happen. Too many questions right now to be confident it will.
Expanded view of that photo - Google Map:

Google Maps

Zoom In - Out for more less detail
 

rs9

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Saw the report about Peoria service a couple of days ago. It's actually a pretty smart play on Peoria's part.

As everyone here knows well, Amtrak wants to re-establish service in several parts of the country and is willing to shoulder the upfront costs and a healthy portion of the operating subsidy for a number of years, provided the states then agree to take over the responsibility for funding the operating subsidies later on.

So, what if Ohio, for example, says, "No, thanks." to the 3C+D? Or three states turn down Amtrak's offer? Or six states? Would it not be a good idea for Peoria to have a project in its back pocket, ready to develop if Ohio or Indiana or some other state throws away another chance at passenger rail?

Regarding the Prairie Marksman, it didn't take the old Rock Island route and only stopped at Joliet between Chicago and Peoria. The articles I've read state that the Rock Island route is what was being looked at for this revival, and would terminate in Peoria proper, not East Peoria.

Something to consider - several years ago, the towns of the Illinois Valley produced a study in which they looked at extending Metra-Rock Island service from Joliet, through the valley, all the way to LaSalle-Peru. In the final analysis, it was decided if anything would be done, they'd run DMUs between LaSalle-Peru and Joliet, stopping at the old Rock Island platform west of UD interlocking, with passengers making their way over to the new Rock Island platform east of UD, board Metra there, and continue onto Chicago. The fact that the new route would service three towns already looking at rail service might mean Peoria wouldn't stand alone in advocating for it.

A few concerns I have about the project-

The Chicago to Joliet segment is a bit of a mystery. I don't see CN allowing any new trains onto the Heritage Corridor (former Alton/GMO) line to Joliet. As it is the STB has told Amtrak they need to get Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains off that line at some point.

Here's a question I have. Here is an overhead shot of Joliet UD interlocking, Heritage Corridor tracks are the two right tracks running north-south; the former Rock Island is the single track running east-west. Even if a Rock Island track was put down on the far south end of that viaduct, could a train safely turn off the Heritage onto the Rock? It looks awfully tight.
n0gywh7.png


If the Rock Island route between Chicago and Joliet was utilized, the project would have to be put on hold until a connector at either 16th Street or 40th Street was constructed, or they'd have to originate trips to Peoria from LaSalle Street Station.

Another point about UD interlocking - when Joliet Union Station was reconfigured 5 years ago or so, Metra ceded control of UD interlocking to BNSF and UP. The Metra-Rock Island platform was moved to the other side of UD to keep the freights moving through with no Metra interference. Would BNSF and UP even consider the possibility of allowing passenger trains to run through UD again?

Also, just west of UD the old Rock Island tracks all the way to Utica form the New Rock subdivision, held by CSX. Considering how hostile CSX has become about allowing even a single new train onto their tracks, does this project even stand a chance?

West of Utica to Bureau Junction and down to Peoria, the tracks belong to Iowa Interstate. Haven't they been a little difficult about the Wyanet-Moline segment of the long-delayed Quad Cities service already?

I would really like to see this happen. Too many questions right now to be confident it will.

These are all good points. To address two of them:

- While it wouldn't be ideal, I don't think it would be too crazy for trains to originate at LaSalle Street Station. Saluki and Illini trains already run along the connecting track (CN, I think) between Union Station and LaSalle. And there is plenty of track space at LaSalle Street, at least based on my usage of the station during rush hours.

- Are the tracks near Utica/Peru that busy currently? I understand CSX's current attitude, and I'm not there all the time to observe, but the tracks often look unused/lightly used.
 
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- While it wouldn't be ideal, I don't think it would be too crazy for trains to originate at LaSalle Street Station. Saluki and Illini trains already run along the connecting track (CN, I think) between Union Station and LaSalle. And there is plenty of track space at LaSalle Street, at least based on my usage of the station during rush hours.

My guess would be that neither Metra nor Amtrak would want that, especially since Metra is planning on gradually shifting more service to LaSalle Street in the near future.

The St Charles Air Line doesn't actually connect to LaSalle St - just a crossing at the moment.
 
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