Amtrak to Stop in Northern Illinois?

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Politicians from every corner of northern Illinois voiced their support for restoring Amtrak service to Rockford Monday.

"It's not should we do it? It's what's the next steps we need to do to get it done?" asked Joe McHugh, Amtrak Vice President of government affairs.

"It's exciting, it's possible, and it's going to take a lot of work," Congressman Don Manzullo said.

Amtrak stopped running trains to this station on South Main Street in Rockford in 1981. Amtrak officials are optimistic about the success of restoring service to Rockford, but they want money from the state and federal government to pay for upgrading the tracks and stations.

"It's always going to be money. Is the state willing to pay the cost subsidy?" said McHugh.

Most importantly leaders say they all have to work together. Many are wondering if the millions of dollars invested in an alternative transportation study on Metra service will go to waste? Metra's commuter trains could bring passengers back and forth between Rockford and Chicago several times a day.

"These two efforts are not exclusive. Metra service, Amtrak and freight upgrades all have the same goal. Increasing economic opportunity and reducing ridership on highways and tollways," Senator Dick Durbin (D) IL, said.

But Durbin says Amtrak won't have to wait for the alternatives analysis to be complete before planning starts for Amtrak service.

Several people at the forum suggest building the Amtrak station at the Rockford Airport. If Amtrak decides to provide service to Rockford again, it would likely start with one round trip to Chicago per day. Durbin isn't being specific on which communities besides Rockford will be stops because that will be decided at a later date.