State Announces Expansion Of Metra Service To Rockford

Images of the ceremony via Jeff Kolkey and Rockford Register Star

Governor J.B. Pritzker and Metra have announced their plans to extend rail service to Rockford from Chicago. Located roughly 88-miles from Union Station, Rockford is the largest city in Illinois outside of the continuous Chicagoland area with a population of over 140,000 people. Now after not having passenger rail service for over 40-years, Metra has been chosen to restore service to the city at an announcement ceremony held in Davis Park in downtown Rockford.

View of downtown Rockford via Go Rockford

Images of the ceremony via Jeff Kolkey and Rockford Register Star

The last passenger train departed Rockford in 1981 on Amtrak’s Black Hawk route, terminated due to reduced funding and the popularity of cars. However with an increase in demand and the success of Rockford’s cargo-heavy airport, local representatives sought to restore the route with both Amtrak and Metra being considered. Now we know the new service will be an extension of the existing Milwaukee District West line that currently terminates north of Elgin, with the process being facilitated as this is one of four lines that Metra owns the tracks of.

Road intersection map of for Metra Rockford extension via IDOT

Currently the quickest option between the downtown of the two cities is a combination of a Coach USA bus and a local bus taking nearly three-hours, the new service would take roughly 95-minutes with two-more new stops in Belvidere and Huntley. The overall project would improve multiple miles of tracks owned by Union Pacific, new signalization, improved crossings, and three-new station houses at each of the aforementioned cities.

Timeline for Metra Rockford extension via IDOT

While no final cost has been revealed, it will be mostly funded through $275 million from the state’s Rebuild Illinois capital program which also contributed to the over $400 million being set aside for service to the Quad Cities. Design work and coordination with IDOT, Metra, Union Pacific and more will continue for the next few years with construction expected between 2025 to 2027. Twice-daily service is expected to commence that same year with a top speed of 79-MPH, a website for the project can be found here.

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4 Comments on "State Announces Expansion Of Metra Service To Rockford"

  1. Metra needs to improve the corridor so bad. Average speed between Bensenville and union is like 35mph with no stops. The difference between MD W and UP NW / BNSF is incredible

    • Steve River North | July 8, 2023 at 8:55 am | Reply

      Agreed. Once they clear the yard at Western it needs to move much faster over the tracks until it gets to the CPKC yard at Mannheim. Not sure how fast trains can run through the major yards due to switching and safety.

  2. It is better than nothing, but a 95 minute trip to travel 88 miles isn’t that impressive. It would be nice if the travel time was closer to 60 minutes and there were more than 2 scheduled trips a day. Will the stations be surrounded by parking lots, or is there any chance there will be housing and offices to try to generate some property tax revenue?

  3. Parking lots. They even shot down a proposed parking deck.

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