Train service from Chicago to Rockford back on track
Forty years after passenger rail service from Chicago to Rockford ended, the state is collaborating with Metra to revive the route with stops that include Elgin.
"With this new service, we're connecting more communities and creating greater opportunities for people across the region," Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday in Rockford.
Trains will start accommodating passengers in late 2027 with $275 million in state capital funds earmarked for improvements such as new stations in Huntley and Belvidere, bridge upgrades and additional track.
"Increased economic growth that comes with heightened connectivity," along with reductions in pollution and traffic, "will make Rockford and every community along the line even more attractive as a home to families and to businesses," Pritzker said.
Metra will partner with the Union Pacific Railway for the project, using its Milwaukee District West Line that travels from Chicago to Elgin. A connection will be constructed between Metra and UP's tracks, which extend to Rockford.
"This is a major step for Metra ... for us to journey outside our normal six-county region, but I would argue this is something we are well-prepared to do," Metra Executive Director Jim Derwinski said.
"We are created to serve communities, to connect communities, to bring people to the things that they love, to work and to the places that they want to go."
Planners anticipate service from Chicago to Rockford will be under two hours, and two round trips will be offered daily. Details of station locations, fares and schedules are being worked out.
Amtrak discontinued service between the two cities in 1981.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara called the development a "critically important milestone" for his city.
"Passenger rail will benefit all Rockfordians. Chicago and the suburbs are one of the most visited areas by Rockford residents. This will allow our residents to get in and out of Chicago without congestion," he said.
Engineering and design work will take up to two years, with construction expected to start in 2025.
For more information, go to chicagotorockfordrail.org.