Grant Designed to Improve Suburban Rail Lines
A $3 million federal grant will help the Illinois Department of Transportation and other agencies develop plans to ease congestion and improve efficiency on several suburban rail lines, including the Heritage Corridor.
The grant was announced Friday by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Chicago, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
The $3 million grant will be matched by a coalition of IDOT, Metra, Amtrak, the Environment Protection Agency and City of Chicago for a total $6 million to develop a comprehensive plan aimed at reducing congestion and delays, boosting economic growth and improving the overall quality of life for riders.
It also will help with efforts to rehabilitate Chicago's Union Station.
"The purpose of the studies are to come up with ways about how the flow of trains can be improved," Lipinski said, adding that the plans would also include freight lines.
Lipinski said the studies will focus on passengers riding the Heritage Corridor, Burlington Northern Sante Fe, Southwest Service and Rock Island Metra lines.
Lipinski is also working, through HR 1405, on reauthorizing the Rail Safety Technology Grant program, which is expiring at the end of fiscal year 2015. It provides $200 million each year for positive train control safety technology.
The extension is for five years, and the safety technology being explored focuses on rail integrity inspection, electronic communication regarding hazardous material shipments and other safety items.
Lipinski said an example of the new technology includes systems that let emergency responders know what is in a rail car in case of an emergency.
"They can get info on what hazardous materials the cars may be carrying," he said.
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