Amtrak panel recommends solutions to Chicago rail gridlock

Always interested in Chicago. Wondered about alternatives to everything on rail going through Chicago. Looked at Chicago Bypasses

Have to remember Chicago is the nation’s RAIL CAPITA

Amtrak‘s blue ribbon panel formed a year ago to examine recurring rail gridlock in Chicago issued its final report yesterday, recommending railroad operational improvements and infrastructure projects to alleviate the problem.

The Chicago Gateway Blue Ribbon Panel called for bringing together rail traffic control dispatchers that are now scattered across the country, improving operating practices by Amtrak and other railroads, and funding for priority projects already identified in northern Illinois and Indiana, according to an Amtrak press release.

The panel also released a study it commissioned that showed rail congestion in Chicago poses the greatest potential economic vulnerability to the economy of all the major U.S. rail hubs. Industry observers have referred to Chicago as America’s “rail traffic speed bump.” creates an economic vulnerability of up to $799 billion every year.

“The panel interviewed experts with the freight-rail industry, Metra commuter rail, the states of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and others and the verdict was unanimous: the implications of failing to act are dire for the economy of the nation in general and the Chicago area in particular,” said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman, who appointed the panel in October 2014.

The panel acknowledged that its proposals would be expensive, but without additional actions, the gridlock will only worsen. Panelists called for a mix of state, federal and private financing to advance priority projects.

The panel recommended:
• real-time operational coordination among Chicago’s railroads, including coordinated dispatching;
• railroads, including Amtrak, should continue efforts to improve operational performance in the Chicago terminal;
• adequate and sustained public funding for vital projects;
• prioritizing the CREATE 75th Street Corridor and Grand Crossing projects;
• additional investments for the Porter, Indiana-to-Chicago corridor;
• innovative financing through the federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan program; and
• consistent environmental review requirements among all transportation modes, and prioritized for projects of national importance.

The report, the study it commissioned and a video overview can be found at Amtrak.com/ChicagoGateway.