New passenger trains may be rolling between eastern Iowa and Chicago within three years, according to the director of the Quad-Cities Passenger Rail Coalition.
Paul Remler says the recent release of 177-million dollars in federal funding means actual rail line work can begin across Illinois from Chicago to Davenport.
“Preliminary engineering, design, track work, construction,” Remler says. “That will take place over 2012, ’13 and 2014 but fully expect service to begin in 2014, sometime in that calendar year.”
Federal cost-share funding for extending passenger rail service on to Iowa City and Des Moines has also been approved at the federal level, but Iowa is deferring the money, for now.
State officials are still studying whether the state can afford its 20-million dollar portion of the project. Remler says the federal approval of the funding in mid-December was key to the process.
“We see it as a proving ground to the rest of the corridor,” he says. “Actually, we’re one step closer to seeing service in Iowa City and Des Moines as a result of this announcement.”
Remler admits that extending passenger rail service into Iowa would bolster the Quad-Cities leg.
“The Quad Cities-to-Chicago corridor will be successful,” he says. “It is a case study for Iowa to look at to see how successful it is.”
Passengers will be boarding the Chicago train at a new transportation center being built across the street from the I-Wireless convention center in downtown Moline, Illinois.