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Hey, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission: Get together behind Peoria to Chicago direct rail service

Here we go again. The old Peoria-to-Bloomington commuter train idea is apparently still on the table over at the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. Let’s go over this again:

Nobody wants to take a train to Bloomington. The only reason anyone would ever take a train to Bloomington is to continue on to Chicago or St. Louis. And if their ultimate destination is elsewhere, they’ll just drive to Bloomington to catch the train. Bloomington has free parking and virtually no traffic congestion. So a Peoria-Bloomington route is doomed to fail.

Peoria to Chicago, on the other hand, would be a heavily-traveled route. Since Chicago would be the ultimate destination for most train trips anyway (they’re a major Amtrak hub, unlike St. Louis), it makes sense to have a direct route from Peoria. Those in the tri-county area could avoid the commute to Bloomington to catch the train, as well as avoiding the traffic congestion and high cost of parking in Chicago.

Look at it this way: imagine we’re talking about air service instead of train service. Can you imagine anyone seriously suggesting that the best we could do is to offer commuter flights to Bloomington for those who wanted to continue on to Chicago (or any other destination)? With a layover? Where you have to switch planes and transfer your own bags? Would anyone buy a ticket on that flight? No. And they won’t take a commuter train to Bloomington, either.

We need our legislators to start fighting for Peoria transportation options instead of fighting against them. You would think we’d be in a great position having a home-town boy as Secretary of Transportation, and yet LaHood is the biggest obstacle. He’s never supported train service for Peoria. In fact, he’s been downright ornery opposing it. Why? Does Caterpillar not want train service to Peoria or something? And what about Durbin? He supported the Quad Cities in their effort to get passenger rail service–why isn’t he doing more to push Peoria’s effort? Where are our advocates?

The Greater Peoria Area is the third-largest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the state. There’s demand for passenger rail service here. Instead of the Illinois Department of Transportation giving away millions of dollars to build new and unsustainable roads through cornfields (Orange Prairie Road extension, Pioneer Parkway extension), why don’t they put that money toward a responsible and sustainable mode of transportation that would help the whole region: direct passenger rail service from Peoria to Chicago?Откъде да купя икона

21 comments to Hey, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission: Get together behind Peoria to Chicago direct rail service

  • David P. Jordan

    Does Caterpillar not want train service to Peoria or something?

    Back in 1993, Caterpillar supported Bud Grieves’ plan to restore Peoria-Chicago service via Chillicothe and the Santa Fe (the fastest possible route, but the busiest then and now). And since it appears subsidiary Electro Motive Diesel (EMD) has a desire to enter the passenger locomotive business, it would be quite beneficial for Big Yellow to support a viable Peoria-Chicago service (and many other new and expanded services).

  • Mahkno

    A Peoria-Chicago train running would be a great route to showcase some Big Yellow hardware.

    Top clients fly into Chicago and then they can ride the high speed Big Yellow express to Peoria for some meetings with the executive office.

  • Look at the Illinois rail map. A cross-state Amtrak train, from Bloomington to Galesburg, through Peoria, is needed, so people in Peoria could make easy connections to Chicago and St. Louis. An I-74 route, sort of. In Galesburg, they could catch the train to Chicago, and in Bton, to St. Louis.

    This is not rocket science. It’s the way rail is handled throughout the world, except in the USA.

    Illinois does not need any more highways, but desperately needs comprehensive rail at a fair price to consumers. The highway money should go into mass transit.

  • David P. Jordan

    Elaine Hopkins wrote: Look at the Illinois rail map. A cross-state Amtrak train, from Bloomington to Galesburg, through Peoria, is needed, so people in Peoria could make easy connections to Chicago and St. Louis. An I-74 route, sort of. In Galesburg, they could catch the train to Chicago, and in Bton, to St. Louis.

    And the reason this doesn’t exist, nor is it needed, goes back before I-74 was even built: paved roads and the automobile. The last passenger train between Galesurg and Peoria ran on June 30, 1960, and between Peoria and Bloomington on June 25, 1955.

    CJ has already pointed out the flaws in the proposed [East] Peoria-BLoomington-Normal rail shuttle concept, and if you look at a map, Elaine, you’ll see that getting to Chicago via a connection at Galesburg involves an awful lot of backtracking. Again, Peoria rail passengers want to go to Chicago, not Bloomington or Galesburg.

  • Mahkno

    A train following I-74 corridor (Quad Cities-Champaign) might be viable but the devil is in the details. It would be largely a commuter train and not one carrying ‘tourist’ traffic. I know some people who do the commute thing… State Farm people living in Peoria going to B-N and B-N people working at Cat. The commute drive sucks. There could be interest but frequency and the speed of the trains would matter greatly. Elaine is right that these sorts of routes are common in Europe. They are also heavily subsidized. Politically that is problematic here in the U.S. The political climate here wants passenger trains to be somewhat self-supporting.

    A Peoria-Chicago route would draw more passengers than the other way which would make for a more viable and hopefully less subsidized route.

  • Steve

    I could give a crap less about a Peoria train to Chicago. It’s not that far to drive from Peoria to Bloomington. What they need is a train from St. Louis that actually goes up the Western side of the State to Quincy. Currently the train line runs from Chicago to Quincy. It runs near me in Macomb, IL, which is a college town. My family who lives in St. Louis area has to take the St. Louis to Bloomington train, then I have to either drive 2 hours to pick them up or they have to rent a car and drive all the way over to me in Macomb area which is ridiculous. It would make sense to build a track down to St. Louis more than anything right now.

  • Marc

    Having a train from Peoria route through Normal would not be all that out of the way if it was done right.. or would it? The problem is that this is Illinois where they think a top speed of 100mph on one small segment across flat corn land is what makes for a ‘high speed rail’. My point is I doubt it would be done right. We’ll dump millions or billions into something that in the end nobody wants to use.

    With added comfort of a train (sit / nap / relax), slighly higher travel speeds than driving (to make up for stops/pickups), if there were no delays of more than 10 minutes switching of trains or passengers hopping on in Normal, then it wouldn’t be that much out of the way enroute if going from Peoria to St. Louis or Peoria to Chicago. Sure I’d love a direct route too, but that requires acquiring land/routes which means we’d be not have anything for a couple more decades.

  • David P. Jordan


    No need to build a new track down to St. Louis. Amtrak’s Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg trains could be extended (if involved railroads agree, money is allocated for train personnel, stations, operations, equipment, etc.) over BNSF’s Hannibal Subdivision down to St. Louis.

    St. Louis, however, is a secondary market for rail passengers. It’s metro population is less than 3 million. Compare that to Chicago, which has nearly that many people by itself. Add another 6.5 million in suburbs. Chicago is the primary destination for downstate rail passengers.

  • Dennis in Peoria

    I have used the B/N Amtrak to Chicago quite a few times, enjoy the ride and the parking downtown savings, along with gas. But I would support a direct Peoria-Chicago train route. Problem is, we’ve got limited tracks, freight trains that get preference on their use, or the tracks need serious work or upgrades. And that is not cheap.

    However, on the motor vehicle side, whatever happened to the big talk a few years ago about the great Peoria-Chicago interstate highway, via expanding Route 29 up to I-80? (Believe that was LaHood’s choice) Did that die, just like all these current hopes about Peoria to Chicago or B/N train will be in 5 years?

  • Marc

    I’ve used Normal to Chicago quite a bit and while living there (for 10ish years) I’d pickup and drop off people visiting me. I have had a 50% success rate of my trip/trains being on-time and uneventful vs nightmares. One train my mother was on was so late coming from chicago that I could have driven there (it was a soggy spring and they blamed swampy waters outside of Joliet). Another time the train up to Chicago was 7+ hours delayed into Normal as the story we were told it had struck a moose enroute from Texas. I used the Amtrak for a trip to chicago recently, but I made that trip a day early paying for a hotel the night before I had to actually be there. Defenders of Amtrak will say its not their fault, its the freight trains, out of the control…blahblah. The end experience is so bad or unreliable nobody wants to use it. I marveled too how I paid more for the taxi to the train station (across town) than the $13 for the train ticket to chicago – and I guess that really is the reason I chose to take the train for that trip. How they manage that cheap fare my guess is subsidies, because tho trains are the most cost effective langoing means of transport I don’t think they’re THAT cost effective.

  • merle widmer

    Dennis is right. All “big talk”. With money to do all the studies but no money to complete tne projects. Think Eastern Bypass where upwards of $15 million has already been spent on “studies”.

    Many have called Peoria “Dreamsville”. If you live in the area look around at all the “big” projects gone awry. More will sooner or later. Especially when Cat relocates their home office by 2010.

    Hi-speed rail to Peoria from Chicago? The drug dealers would love it or would passengers be screened further extending travel time?

  • Ranger Dace

    “Especially when Cat relocates their home office by 2010.”

    So… CAT relocated its office two years ago? That’s news to me.

  • excuse Merle. He knows not what he says. He’ll have to consult Fox before he corrects himself.

  • checking for details.

    I am not sure, but Merle might be referring to the threat by the museum peeps and by Spain that CAT would relocate. We had to build the museum so that CAT would build the vistor center and anchor them to Peoria.

  • anp

    If you think that the Visitor Center anchors Cat to Peoria then you should think again. If Cat wanted to leave Peoria they would do it and the Visitor Center would either continue to exist, it would close or they would just build another where they relocated. The Visitor Center is a corporate expense. If you assume that the Visitor Center cost $50 million to build that equals about 4 days of last years profit.

  • checking for details

    my thoughts exactly, but that was the scare tactic used.

  • checking for details

    PEORIA —

    A West Bluff sandwich shop was robbed Thursday night, and for the third time in a week, a shot was fired during the incident.

    Police were called to the Jimmy John’s restaurant, 1121 W. Main St., at 10:46 p.m. after a man with pantyhose pulled over his face robbed the establishment of an undisclosed amount of cash.

    Initial reports indicated a shot was fired during the robbery. Robberies at Walgreens, 2515 N. Knoxville Ave., on Sunday and The Mix, 2123 N. Knoxville Ave., on April 13 also included shots being fired.

    No suspects from the Jimmy John’s robbery were immediately identified. from

    all robberies were in the 2nd district and all in areas that BVA wants drawn out in the proposed map.

  • RU Kidding

    My property tax bill went up $400 yesterday when I opened it. In one year! How outrageous is that? My son’s property taxes also went up $400! We live in the city, in the War Memorial Drive/University area, not out in the suburbs. Should we make the checks out to Gary Matthews? (sorry if this is off-topic)

  • District 150 observer

    RU Kidding—-It depends on what your total bill is as to whether that is outrageous or not. If your bill is $12,000, it is not out of line. Your house may also be underassessed and your bill has been outrageously low for years.

    So, it all depends……

  • RU Kidding

    I live right in the middle of Peoria, off University, just past War Memorial Dr. My taxes were $2200 just two years ago. They went to $2400 last year, and $2800 today. I only dream of having a house that would have a tax of $12,000.

  • […] Speaking of bad ideas, a recent Word on the Street article says that local officials are still pursuing the foolhardy idea of getting a commuter train to Bloomington instead of a direct Amtrak route to Chicago. Rather than re-explain in different words why this is such a bad idea, I’m just going to reprint an earlier article I wrote on the subject (original post here): […]