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About — Chicago to Rockford

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) are partnering with Metra to operate intercity passenger rail service between Chicago and Rockford, with stops planned in Elgin, Huntley and Belvidere. Before passengers start boarding trains on this corridor for the first time in more than 40 years, several infrastructure improvements must be completed to ensure a safe and efficient service.

The Governor's Rebuild Illinois capital plan includes $275 million allocated to re-establishing this service, including the following improvements:

  • Track improvements between Elgin and Rockford to support increasing speeds from existing freight operations (40 mph or slower) to passenger rail operations (up to 79 mph). 
  • Construction of a connection between Metra and Union Pacific tracks near Big Timber Road in Elgin.
  • Enhanced grade crossing surfaces, highway approaches, and warning devices. 
  • Improved bridge structures, which may include the Rock River Bridge.
  • A potential second siding and second main track locations, such as potential siding in Marengo and potential second main track past the Belvidere yard. 

Travel time is anticipated to be slightly less than two hours with two round trips per day planned. The project team is evaluating station locations to determine where exactly trains will board passengers.


Project Timeline

Chicago to Rockford Corridor

The Chicago to Rockford corridor is approximately 90 miles and is comprised of three segments. 

Recognized throughout northeastern Illinois as the Milwaukee District West (MD-W) Metra route, this busy 39-mile segment of the corridor is between Chicago and the Big Timber Road in Elgin. In addition to the intercity passenger rail service, MD-W is a part of Metra's commuter rail network to Chicago Union Station. Canadian Pacific also dispatches freight services over the segment.


Union Pacific Railroad (UP) owns the corridor segment between the Big Timber Road Metra station and Belvidere, Ill. UP operates at least one round trip freight train between West Chicago and Belvidere through Big Timber Road. Another local round trip freight train operates from Belvidere to as far east as Huntley depending on need, several days per week.


UP also owns the corridor, and dispatches round trip freight train traffic between Belvidere and the Rockford area as needed. This track segment, which includes the bridge over the Rock River, will likely need considerable rehabilitation.


Additional stakeholders include communities along the corridor and jurisdictions with grade crossings.

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