The purpose of the Peoria Passenger Rail Coalition is to raise public awareness of the benefits of passenger rail service to the Peoria region, gain public support for passenger rail service, and successfully persuade state and federal lawmakers to appropriate the necessary funds to make passenger rail service to Peoria a reality.
The first passenger train in Peoria came from Chicago on the Peoria and Bureau Valley Railroad on November 7, 1854. Passenger rail service to Chicago continued for another 125 years. Passenger service stopped in January 1979 when the last passenger train, the Peoria Rocket, departed from Peoria. Amtrak’s Prairie Marksman served East Peoria starting in August 1980, but service was discontinued a year later. After that, the closest Amtrak station was in Chillicothe, but service there ended in 1996. Since then, the Peoria area has been without passenger rail service. The closest Amtrak stations are now in Normal and Galesburg.
Our vision is to restore passenger rail service to the Peoria area—the third-largest metropolitan statistical area in the state with over 370,000 residents. Amtrak ridership is up nationwide: ridership on trains between Chicago and St. Louis “was up 16.5 percent in Fiscal 2008 over 2007,” according to Amtrak reports. That trend has continued in 2009 and 2010. Ridership on the same corridor during April 2010 was up 20% over 2009. More people are choosing to travel by train, and more communities are requesting passenger rail access. Amtrak recently completed studies on adding train service to Rockford and the Quad Cities. Connecting to the national rail transportation system would benefit our region economically, socially, and environmentally.