Passenger rail is the most practical and environmentally responsible way to transport groups of people safely, comfortably, and affordably over moderate distances. Within a 400-mile radius, high-speed trains can deliver passengers downtown-to-downtown almost as quickly as airplanes. With wide seats, food service, and computer ports, modern trains traveling on modern tracks provide a convenient, productive alternative to cars and airplanes.
Transportation is currently the leading source of carbon pollution, primarily due to cars and planes, but trains use far less energy to move people more efficiently, making rail the climate-friendly option. Many Midwesterners do not or cannot drive, so a comprehensive rail network can also improve mobility and economic activity. By serving downtown centers, trains counteract the centrifugal force of urban sprawl and fuel small businesses in walkable communities. Additionally, 40% of American freight is transported by rail, but it produces less than 3% of the nation’s transportation carbon emissions. If we want to ease congestion, maximize land use, and improve mobility, rail is the best investment for an interconnected Midwest.
ELPC is promoting more rail to more places more reliably. We advocate for more frequent trains on existing lines, including Chicago-Milwaukee-Minneapolis, Chicago-St. Louis, Chicago-Indianapolis, and Michigan service. We are also working to expand into promising new routes, including the Northern Lights Express (Twin Cities – Duluth), Chicago-Iowa City, St. Louis-Kansas City, and Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland. From big cities to small towns, Midwest rail can connect our communities and support our economy.
ELPC is working with allies across the region to create reliable 110mph train service with limited stops between Midwestern cities. Chicago is the hub, with lines running north to Milwaukee and on to Minneapolis; northeast to Kalamazoo and Detroit; east to Toledo and Cleveland; southeast to Indianapolis; and southwest to Springfield and St. Louis. Thanks to ELPC work with our allies, Chicago-St. Louis train improvements are nearly complete.
Trains can’t run fast if they can’t run on time, but for decades, when freight trains got in the way, Amtrak had no ability to fight back. That’s why ELPC led a multi-year litigation strategy to give Amtrak the ability to enforce the right to preferential dispatching over freight railroad tracks – a right given them by Congress in 1973, but opposed at every turn by freight railroads.
ELPC has led the charge for state and federal funding of passenger rail improvements throughout the Midwest. To date, more than $4 billion has been/is being invested in the Midwest in faster track, safer signals, new trains, and improved railroad stations.