To members of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association:
Late last week, the Illinois Legislature approved its FY2007 budget.
It includes the largest expansion of Amtrak service in the State's
In round numbers, the budget for intercity passenger rail service will
go from $12.1 million in FY2006 to $24.7 million in FY2007.
The Illinois Department of Transportation still needs to negotiate the
details with Amtrak, BNSF, CN, and the Union Pacific. Here is what we expect
will result from this budget increase:
1) Chicago - Milwaukee: Remains at 7 daily roundtrips.
2) Chicago - Carbondale: Grows from 2 daily roundtrips to 3. Adds a
morning northbound and a morning southbound. (100% increase in state-funded
3) Chicago - Quincy: Grows from 1 daily roundtrip to 2. Adds a morning
westbound and an evening eastbound. (100% increase in state-funded
4) Chicago - St. Louis: Grows from 3 daily roundtrips to 5. Adds a
morning express train southbound and a more reasonable morning departure out of
St. Louis. Also, adds evening trains in both directions. (200%
increase in state-funded service)
The target date for start-up is October 2006.
We had a broad range of support that included universities, local
organizations, and several hundred mayors and other elected officials
statewide. We ended up with a super majority of Senators as cosponsors
and just one Representative shy of unanimous support in the House. I would
especially like to thank our partners the Environmental Law and Policy
Center and the United Transportation Union for making this possible.
I would also like to thank all of you who wrote letters and made phone
calls. Importantly, all of our members made it possible for me to travel to
many downstate cities to get local leaders involved.
If you live in Illinois, call or write your legislators today to thank
them for their support. If you don't live in Illinois, thanks again
for supporting the Association. This is a crucial step towards getting
world-class trains for the entire Midwest.
The next steps are just around the corner. The States have to
formulate comprehensive transportation plans to qualify for federal funding. We
need to get local leaders demanding that train service be included. At the
federal level, the Administration has, once again, suggested cutting Amtrak
funding. The debate over the federal budget is happening right now.
A generous donor has offered a matching grant of $3000 to help us
launch our next campaign. You can help us take advantage of this offer
by going to www.midwesthsr.org/donate right now.
Thanks again for your support!
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
PO Box 805877
Chicago, IL 60680