Governor Terry Branstad says he hasn’t ruled out passenger rail service as a travel option for the state. Iowa and Illinois have a promise of $230-million in federal funding for an Amtrack route between Chicago and Iowa City. But that money requires Iowa to chip in $20-million in state funds.
Branstad says it’s something that’s “going to be carefully studied.” He says the state reached an agreement for Illinois to go ahead with their portion of the service, while Iowa studies whether it would be economically feasible. Branstad says the state expense has to be justified before he’d go along with it.
“Certainly I don’t want to see the taxpayers of Iowa have a massive ongoing subsidy,” Branstad said. The budge passed by the legislature earlier this year kept a small portion of the matching funds intact. Republicans in the legislature expressed skepticism during the last session as to whether the passenger service could be profitable.
Democrats said the service could work once it is up and running. Branstad made his comments after being asked about the issue during his weekly meeting with reporters.