Rail passenger briefings: IDOT, Brightline, LA Metro

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Written by

Carolina Worrell, Editor-in-Chief

Bright Pink 2 and Bright Green 2 arrived July 21 at Brightline’s Vehicle Maintenance Center in Orlando. Photo by Jim Pearson via Brightline.

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) releases the results of a feasibility study and public inquiry for the proposed Peoria-Chicago Passenger Rail Route. Also, Light line welcomes two more trains to Orlando and a new mural is installed at LA subway Park Leimert station.

IDOT

A feasibility study prepared by Patrick Engineering for the city of Peoria, Illinois and IDOT for the proposed Peoria-Chicago passenger rail line that would run along the Illinois Rover via LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa and Morris before branching off to Joliet , and ultimately, Chicago, put an initial cost estimate of around $2.5 billion on establishing the route, WCBU reported July 21. This figure, however, is subject to change as a 40% contingency is currently factored into the estimate.

Additionally, of the more than 31,000 responses to the City of Peoria’s public interest survey, 95% indicated that they would likely use passenger rail service, which would “probably” be operated by Amtrak and would include a locomotive, cafe, company car and two coaches, and would operate at speeds of up to 79 mph. About 39% say they would take the train one to five times a year and just over 4% say they would take the train more than five times a week.

A ridership forecast by engineering consultant Kimley Horn projected that an average of 600 passengers per day would use passenger rail service making five daily round trips from downtown Peoria to Chicago’s Union Station. Most people, according to the forecast, say they would be willing to pay between $10 and $30 for a one-way ticket from Peoria to Chicago.

“It’s a viable option. We have the green light to move forward. And I’m very, very encouraged,” Ali said.

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he’s “optimistic about what he’s seen so far,” based on two meetings with Amtrak CEO and one meeting with the chief of the Federal Railway Administration (FRA).

“We not only have a good plan, a good poll and the interest of our community, but we have the interest at the federal level, which is absolutely essential. This project can only be done if we get the attention and acceptance of the federal government,” LaHood said. “And I think we’re well positioned.”

Passenger rail service ended in Peoria in 1978, making it the largest unserved city in Illinois today. The area was last served by passenger rail in 1981, when the Prairie Sniper briefly fled East Peoria.

Restoring passenger rail service to Peoria has been discussed a few times over the past decade, including in 2011 when an Amtrak feasibility study toyed with the idea of ​​a new Peoria to Normal passenger rail line. . Commuter bus service from Peoria Airport to the normal Amtrak station was also considered. But LaHood says this time it’s different because the money is now available to make it happen thanks to the $66 billion for passenger rail thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress last year. last.

If the project goes ahead, negotiations with railways such as Tazewell and Peoria Railroad (TZPR), Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAISRR), CSX, MetraAmtrak and potentially Canadian National (CN) (depending on the final route selected from Joliet to Chicago, which is not yet determined in the study) will have to take place as the passenger route would run along the existing rail lines currently owned by the six different freight companies and a railway.

According WCBUthe route will mostly follow that of the old Rock Island Rocket Line, except for a final stop at Union Station rather than LaSalle Street Station in Chicago.

LaHood, who acknowledged that negotiations with freight railroads can be difficult, says he “has experience in this area through previous negotiations working with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and companies freight railroads to improve a passenger rail line from Chicago to southern Illinois.

“It was tough, and it took us a few years to get the agreements, I would say we’re going to have to work with those freight railways that own the tracks. And some parts of the tracks are used and some parts are not,” LaHood said. “So we’re going into these negotiations with our eyes wide open, but with the idea that you can make shared deals with the freight railways, but it takes a few negotiations to do that. And I think we’re up to it, and I think it’s going to happen eventually.

According WCBUthe host railways were not consulted for the feasibility study, which assumes that all railways involved would require capacity upgrades and additional maintenance to run both the existing service and the new one Peoria road.

The Peoria Passenger Corridor will be included in IDOT’s passenger rail plan this fall. Mayor Ali said the next step is to be included in the FRA Corridor and Identification Program, which would provide additional financial and technical assistance for the study of Phase 1 of the Peoria proposal.

“For now, the FRA has only asked for expressions of interest for this programme. We submitted our expression of interest along with about 15 others across the country,” Ali said. “This fall they will be posting a notice inviting project proposals, and we have every intention of applying.”

LaHood added that getting the Peoria passenger train on track will not be a quick process and could take at least 10 years.

Map courtesy of Patrick Engineering / Illinois Department of Transportation

Light line

Brightline’s Bright Pink 2 and Bright Green 2 arrived July 21 at Brightline’s Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Orlando after traveling the 3,000 miles through 10 states from the Siemens Mobility North American rolling stock facility in Sacramento, California.

The two six-car trains, which will carry passengers between Orlando and South Florida, each consist of two locomotives and four passenger cars. The trains are among five new trains to arrive in Florida ahead of the opening of Brightline Station in Orlando. Brightline’s Orlando expansion project will be substantially complete in early 2023. The first train, Bright Red 2, arrived in October 2021 traveling through Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties to to its destination in West Palm Beach. The second train, Bright Blue 2, arrived in Orlando in February 2022. The last trainset is expected to arrive in Florida later this year.

“It’s an exciting time as we welcome not one but two new trainsets, Bright Green 2 and Bright Pink 2 to our vehicle maintenance site in Orlando,” said Michael Cegelis, EVP, Development and Construction, Brightline. . “These trains, and our entire fleet, are built with the consumer in mind. They are modern, eco-friendly and equipped with conveniences such as high-speed wi-fi and plug-in connections at every seat. All this makes for a comfortable and smooth ride.

In partnership with Siemens Mobility, the newest trains, according to Brightline, represent the company’s commitment to investing billions in America’s infrastructure, creating the nation’s first and only private high-speed rail network. Stainless steel coaches are made with components from more than 160 suppliers in 27 states. They are designed for luxury and comfort, with special ergonomic seats, contemporary communication systems and improved Wi-Fi. With wide aisles, wheelchair storage, and fully accessible restrooms, the Venture train exceeds Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements from start to finish.

Brightline’s Orlando expansion project is currently 80% complete and is expected to be completed in late 2022, carrying passengers in 2023.

LA Metro

A new video posted by LA Metro shows artist Mickalene Thomas walking through the Leimert-Park Station on the Crenshaw/LAX Line (K Line) admiring the texture and color of his glass mosaic mural, which is now fully installed at the station, “capturing the quality of light and the cultural and visual richness of the neighborhood.”

Thomas was commissioned by subway artwhose goal is “to enhance the guest experience with innovative, award-winning visual and performing arts programming that encourages attendance and connects the people, places and neighborhoods of Los Angeles County” .

In his original design, Thomas used photocollage techniques to build the layered composition of iconic landmarks, including the Leimert Park Fountain and the Vision Theater. The photocollage was then translated into durable glass mosaic by skilled artisans who worked with Thomas to complete the mural.

Custom colored sheets of glass were created for this mural and hand cut into millions of small mosaic pieces and assembled to create the 68 foot long artwork. The mosaic mural was then transported to the station and installed in segments.

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