Government Issues

FRA frees up Chicago rail 'chokepoint'

Posted on October 24, 2014

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo joined Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Sen. Dick Durbin and other federal, state and local officials for the dedication of the Englewood Flyover project.

The $133 million Flyover, which received $126 million from the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program, will eliminate one of the nation’s largest rail chokepoints. As a result, close to 80 Metra trains per weekday will now travel above the Norfolk Southern mainline avoiding roughly 60 freight and Amtrak trains that use the mainline. The flyover will provide some relief for rail congestion in Chicago, but much work remains to be done to eliminate the issue completely.

In addition to the intercity passenger benefits, the Englewood Flyover will also reduce freight and commuter delays, which will in turn keep more people and freight off the Chicago area’s congested highways. This congestion impacts all modes of transportation, forcing more trucks on to highways, limiting access to airports and reducing the capacity of railroads – limiting the regions effectiveness as a transportation hub.

About one-third of all rail traffic in the United States travels through the Chicago region and the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program, a partnership between the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, freight railroads, Metra and Amtrak, seeks to remove and reduce train congestion throughout the Chicago area. The Englewood Flyover project is one of 70 projects that make up the CREATE program. About one-third of the projects within the program are completed and today funding only exists for half of the overall program.

The Englewood Flyover is a grade separation project south of Chicago’s Union Station that ease congestion one of the most delay-prone intersections in the entire Amtrak system. It separates Rock Island District Metra commuter trains from Amtrak passenger trains and freight trains traveling on the Norfolk Southern corridor and will relieve Metra riders of more than 7,500 annual passenger hours of delay.


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