2.6.08

THERE'S NO CAPITAL PLAN. Once again, the Illinois legislature was not able to pass a capital spending bill before the supermajority deadline arrived. The state's senators, however, would like Amtrak to make capital out of the scrap line.

The Quad City Times’ Ed Tibbetts reports that all four Iowa and Illinois Senators “…are asking that Amtrak move quickly to prepare rail cars in the event Amtrak connections between Chicago and Iowa are built.”

“U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Barack Obama, D-Ill., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, made the request in a letter dated Tuesday. Rail advocates are seeking funds for high-speed rail connections between Chicago and Iowa City through the Quad-Cities and also from Chicago to Dubuque,” the paper reported

“To accommodate the expected boom in ridership ... we want to ensure that we have the absolute best rolling stock available,” the senators said in a letter to Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Alexander Kummant, the paper said.

“An Amtrak feasibility study in January said the supply of rolling stock is limited and train sets for the new lines would likely have to come from its inventory. The cost and time needed for repairing rail cars is significant, however. The feasibility study estimated the cost of rail cars for the Chicago to Quad-Cities route at $4.2 million,” said the paper.

A shorter news item notes additional weekend service on the Metra Fox Lake line. Weekday ridership is also up, apparently enough to delay 2140, the 2.45 off Fox Lake which is due at Union Station at 4.18, enough that it gets in the way of the 3.00 Hiawatha, an 89 minute train.

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