Illinois reaches deal with Amtrak

Oct 10, 2013

 Illinois has agreed to pay more for in-state Amtrak trains. The deal prevents a shutdown of rail service that could have happened as early as next week. 

 Illinois is the second-to-last state to reach an agreement with Amtrak.

 The deal was necessary because of a federal law that requires states to pay more if they want to keep shorter-distance rail lines.

 Some state, like California, will pay millions of extra dollars.

It should be much less in Illinois, which already pays for three of four lines -- those that connect Chicago with Carbondale, Quincy, and Wisconsin. While Illinois has also been paying for most of the Chicago-to-St. Louis route, now it'll pick up the entire tab.

 Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation confirmed the agreement but declined to speak on tape.

 Across the country, there are 28 of these short-haul train lines, and they account for more than half of Amtrak's passengers. States had until this month to make a deal or the trains would be halted, with workers laid off.

 Nineteen states were affected. The lone holdout is Indiana, and its Chicago-to-Indianapolis Hoosier Line. A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation says it's continuing to negotiate with Amtrak and communities along the route, and hopes to reach a conclusion soon.