The concept of a passenger rail train connecting Chicago and the Quad Cities has been floated around for years and has gone nowhere.  But, local leaders are not giving up on the idea.

Today, the Mayor of Moline, Visit Quad Cities, and the Quad Cities Chamber all spoke out in favor of passenger rail and what needs to be done to make it happen.

Passenger Rail In Illinois

Little boy traveling in train looking outside the window.

Illinois is no stranger to passenger rail.  There are numerous connections with routes from Chicago to major cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis.  As well as smaller cities like Champaign-Carbondale and Galesburg-Quincy.

While the Illinois rail website has information listed for Chicago to Quad Cities it's not about booking travel.  It's about the project.  That received initial funding in 2010.

In 2010, IDOT received federal funding to initiate passenger rail service between Chicago and the Quad Cities.  In 2011, IDOT began preliminary engineering on the infrastructure improvements needed to implement the service and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) activities to identify and mitigate potential environmental impacts of the project.  The project was put on hold in 2015, and in spring 2017, was reinitiated.


IDOT is working collaboratively with the Federal Railroad Administration, BNSF, and Iowa Interstate Railroad to complete preliminary engineering and conclude the NEPA process.

Local Leaders Are Pushing This Now Again


In a press conference on Monday, Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati said, “We’re here to make sure our constituents know that the Iowa Interstate Railroad appears more interested in corporate welfare and someone else paying the bill for their track improvements than in being a good partner and bringing passenger rail to Moline."

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The Quad Cities Chamber sent a release after Mayor Sangeetha spoke saying, "The Chamber has been a longtime advocate in supporting and securing state and federal funding for passenger rail," said CEO LaDrina Wilson. "We've done so because we see this as an opportunity to invite people from all over the country to experience the greatness of the QC. It's unfortunate that our efforts to support this public-private partnership have not produced the outcome we'd hoped for. If we are unable to move forward with passenger rail, we will advocate for the secured state and federal dollars to be used in our community for infrastructure and placemaking enhancements."

"The Quad Cities Chamber's next step will be to meet with the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT) on our advocacy trip to Springfield on March 7," said Rhonda Ludwig, Director, Government Affairs. "We will ask for the DOT's continued support to take our concerns forward."

Even if work started today, it will be years before the full route would begin shuttling passengers.  So for us in the Quad Cities, it's still all about 88 or 80 to get to Chicago.

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