Passenger rail service returns to Rockford - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Passenger rail service returns to Rockford

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ROCKFORD (WREX) - Governor Pat Quinn announces $60 million in state capital funds to establish passenger rail service that will connect Rockford to Chicago.  That route will also extend past Rockford to Dubuque.

Rockford is the second largest city in Illinois, but it has not had passenger rail service since 1981.  The hope is that bringing it back will bring people into the city.

By building this route, the state also hopes to create jobs.  Governor Quinn says the new service could create up to 2,000 new positions, including more than 650 construction jobs.

Until 1981, Rockford had a rail station on South Main Street.  Mayor Larry Morrissey says that spot will come back to life as the service gets a second chance.

"We were able to obtain for a dollar, from the Canadian National Railroad, that property," said Morrissey. "So we've got the space. We've got the ability to build that station."

Construction is expected to start in 2011.  Planning work will start immediately.  When the service starts, planners say the train would leave Dubuque early in the morning, stop in Rockford, and arrive in Chicago in the late morning.  The trip back the other way would be available in the evening, arriving back in Dubuque before midnight.

Another $45 million in state capital funds will pay to start passenger rail service from Chicago to the Quad Cities.

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