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Sen. Durbin sees community backing for Amtrak lines through Peoria

NORMAL (25News Now) – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) says key pieces are coming together for a possible Amtrak line between Peoria and Chicago and another line from the River City to the Quad Cities.

One of those essential pieces, according to Durbin, is local support for proposed new passenger lines which are at or near the top of Mayor Rita Ali’s wish list.

Late last year, Ali and former U.S. Rep. and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Peoria was selected for the Federal Railroad Administration Corridor Identification Program, which is considered a major step toward Peoria passenger train service becoming a reality.

Durbin, speaking in Normal on Monday, talked about progress that he says is being made about Peoria passenger lines.

“I think we’re at the point where there is solid local support. There was negotiation of part of the Peoria to the Quad Cities line that’s still unresolved and I was told last week they were close to reaching a conclusion as to how to get that done,” said Durbin during a visit on Monday to Uptown Station in Normal.

Durbin said it will take state government cooperation and involvement to subsidize the service, but it’s long overdue.

During Durbin’s visit to Uptown Station, the senator and Normal Mayor Chris Koos talked about the importance of Amtrak’s route between Chicago and St. Louis, of which Bloomington-Normal is perched in the middle.

Uptown Station in Normal is the second busiest behind only Chicago’s Union Station among Illinois’ 29 Amtrak stops.

Koos, recently confirmed by the senate as a member of Amtrak’s Board of Directors, noted that funding Amtrak has received for the next five years is the most since the service was founded in 1971.

The funding will help with long-term planning, new networks, infrastructure improvements, and new passenger cars.