Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Amtrak ridership up in IL

Since the railroad has increased its availability out here in the dingles, ridership has increased rather dramatically. Who'd 'a' thunk?

They added a run each way on the Quincy-Galesburg-Chicago route, and it's been full nearly every trip. I've ridden it a few times, when I've traveled with me muddah to the Big City, and it's a heck of a lot less stressful than trying to drive the roughly 200 miles and then trying to find parking. It's also relaxing. I write, Mom knits, and we both talk to strangers on the train. Some might think it peculiar to chat with people you never expect to meet again, but then, some think blogging with a readership below 30 per day is peculiar... it probably is, and I find myself peculiarly without concern over it.

At any rate, the boom in ridership has put the bug in the shorts of some of our legislators, again. Over the past couple of months, for example, Dick Durbin has made mention that he'd like to see a train run from the Quad Cities to Chicago, because there is none right now, and the nearest connection is 50 miles away, either in Galesburg or in Princeton. His solution, of course, is the whole shebang being built -- new rails and new train to take the whole 170 miles from downtown Rock Island to Union Station in the Windy City.

He's never gonna get it.

They've asked for that run before.

The solution, from what I can see, is to make a connection between Rock Island and either Galesburg or Princeton (the latter would be a more pragmatic, direct, rapid route, but I'd really like to see a line run north-south to make my district a little more accessible for businesses, so I can't discard it entirely. Besides, I've always wanted to revive the old Rocky Doodle). All one would need is about 50 miles of direct track to either city, and the equipment need only run to make the connection to an already existing train. It would do the job of getting more commuters to Chgo, and therefore would increase the worth and efficiency of the one line dramatically.

Not that I expect anything to come of this dream. It is, after all, something the politicos talk about nearly every year since... well, as long as I can recall, and then some.

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