Amtrak, Not Metra, Could be Area's First Passenger Rail Service

Amtrak could be stopping trains in Oswego by 2014.

A Metra stop in Oswego could be 10 to 15 years away; an Amtrak stop, on the other hand, could be here in just three years.

That was the message sent by Congressman Randy Hultgren, R-14th District, and Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq on Tuesday night at a gathering of officials from across Kendall County at on Orchard Road.

The timeline isn’t the only shrinking number connected to the project. The price tag for securing an Amtrak stop near Orchard and Mill roads would be $6 million to $10 million. The price tag for a Metra stop would be $120 million more than that.

“Ideally, we would love to have a Metra station (in Kendall County),” Hultgren said.  “We also know that’s a challenge, and so we’re open to other things (like Amtrak.) It doesn’t solve the problem, but it’s a much more doable number. Really, what we have to do is create more jobs and transportation is to key to creating jobs.”

Hultgren, who sits on the House Transportation Committee and Rail Subcommittee, said he will fight for federal funding in the latest transportation bill to help get the project started. He said he hopes the bill passes by the end of this year or the beginning of 2012.

Representatives from several Kendall County communities, including Yorkville’s community development director, Montgomery’s village president and Plano’s mayor, were on hand to show their support for the Amtrak proposal.

LeClercq said Kendall County has a much better chance of seeing an Amtrak stop in the near-term with Metra being a long-term goal.

“(With Amtrak,) we think by making a small investment we can get a huge return regionally,” he said.

Amtrak officials have stated their desire to begin service between Chicago and the Quad Cities by 2014. Oswego could be a stop on that line. Federal, state and local funding would need to be secured for the project. LeClercq said local funding would come in the form of parking for the facility, which Oswego already has with the Park-n-Ride lot. The state would be required to match federal funding.

LeClercq said he has discussed the proposal with state reps. Tom Cross and Kay Hatcher and has received support from both.

Montgomery village president Marilyn Michelini said residents will be able to support an Amtrak stop if they see all levels of government working together.

“Residents and taxpayers like to see us working together to achieve these goals,” she said. “This is a much-needed project out here. Without transportation out here companies won’t move out here.”

Plano is already a stop on Amtrak’s line from Chicago to Quincy. Mayor Bob Hausler said there are two stops inbound to the city everyday along with two outbound stops.

A one-way, approximately one-hour, trip to the city costs riders $8 to $21, depending on the day. By comparison, a one-way ticket to the city on Metra from the Aurora transportation center costs $6 if purchased on the train. The Plano station has an average daily ridership of about 16 passengers. The only two stops between Plano and the city are Naperville and La Grange on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line.

Metra commissioned an engineering study for a station at Orchard and Mill roads in August, and that work is underway. LeClercq said that study could also be used by Amtrak.  

Click here for more on the effort to begin passenger rail service between Chicago and the Quad Cities.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the cost of a trip from Plano to Chicago.

David Edelman November 11, 2011 at 07:03 PM
I thought big government spending was all over with? I thought Randy ran on stopping the spending and that's how he got voted in? We are now going to vote him out if he does not spend money? I am confused here?
kpfarrer November 13, 2011 at 02:09 PM
I support all efforts to bring rail service to Oswego and beyond to improve our area. Limited service Amtrak alone won't be adequate. The park & ride program in Oswego should be maintained. It is not about the few who utilize it, it's an investment in future rail development which will improve the area for all residents. PS Good point David.
David Edelman November 13, 2011 at 05:59 PM
I went to the Congressman Joe Walsh Town Hall yesterday in Oswego at the Veterans Hall. Interesting to say the least. I asked him about this very issue. He knew nothing about it. But in the end, he said NO he would NOT support it. Said that Hultgren was "an establishment guy" that would support these types of things. Most at the town hall said that they were aware of it and I asked the group - "is anyone against this project?" No one spoke up or said NO. I hope it happens as well and these are the types of things that government should focus on and help people everywhere as it does promote what is best for the greater good, not a small group of people. I do think it is quite funny and ironic however as everyone likes to complain about big government and out of control spending, it all of sudden becomes a good and cool thing when it affects you directly in a positive way - and your congressman needs such headlines to get re-elected.
Jane Enviere November 13, 2011 at 08:20 PM
Spot on there, David! It's a fab idea to spend dollars if it does something for you. But when it's a Democratic proposal, well then he or she is...gee, what do they say again...ah, yes... a socialist. Funny how that works, eh? lol
Casey Jones November 13, 2011 at 11:53 PM
All aboard? Toot your horn George. Spending millions to have a luxury bus service paid for by the county taxpayers is bad enough but now a rail service to Chicago for what - maybe 50 people a day? 80,000 taxpayers subsidizing 50 people's lifestyles? All I read is that one rail service actually makes a profit in the entire USA. That's in New York. I don't see any car-pool parking spots or ads in the paper like I see in the rest of the country. Don't even start on it creating jobs. Jobs for some politically well-connected people. Certainly not for the average Joe. The dreamers can dream all they want - just leave my wallet alone!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »