About the Project

Funding and Applications

On April 16, 2009, President Obama announced a new vision for developing high-speed passenger rail in America. The vision called for a collaborative effort among the Federal Government, States, railroads, and other key stakeholders to help transform America's transportation system through the creation of a national network of high-speed rail corridors. To achieve this vision, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) launched the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program in June 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). On January 28, 2010, Illinois was selected for a $1.2 billion federal award to bring high-speed passenger rail service to Illinois by 2015-2017. In addition to the ARRA funding, the Illinois Capitol Bill has appropriated $400 million for high-speed rail. View the applications

On April 4, 2011, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) submitted applications to the Federal Railroad Administration for additional HSIPR Program funding.

On October 28, 2011, IDOT submitted an application to the United States Department of Transportation for program funding for fencing and intersection improvements through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or "TIGER Discretionary Grant" application process.

On March 19, 2012, IDOT submitted an application to the United States Department of Transportation for program funding for fencing and road and grade crossing enhancements through the "TIGER Discretionary Grant" application process.

In June 2018, IDOT submitted an application to the Federal Railroad Administration for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Program for the Lenox Interlocking Reconfiguration project. In February 2019, the Lenox Project was selected for $5.1 million in funding from the FY 2017 CRISI Program.

Federal Railroad Administration Application Process

In June 2009, FRA released guidance on implementing the vision for developing high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects under the ARRA.

The applications were individually reviewed and assessed by the FRA against evaluation criteria in three categories: public return on investment, project success factors, and other attributes (such as timeliness of project completion).

Illinois Applications

In response to the FRA guidance, IDOT prepared an application for funding under FRA's HSIPR Program for the Chicago to St. Louis and Chicago to Dubuque corridors. The FRA required a corridor-wide National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study when submitting an application. The FRA's guidance encouraged agencies to tier their environmental reviews into stages, Tier 1 and Tier 2. The purpose of the Tier 1 environmental review is to document potential environmental impacts at the corridor or program level. Any project specific issues, such as environmental impacts associated with specific improvements, will be addressed in a Tier 2 NEPA document.

Using this approach, broader programs are covered under a Tier 1 NEPA document, such as a corridor-wide Environmental Assessment (EA). In a Tier 2 NEPA document, site-specific projects or actions are addressed in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), EA, or categorical exclusion (CE) document.

To support the applications for the Chicago to St. Louis and Chicago to Dubuque corridors, IDOT prepared a Tier 1 corridor-wide EA for each corridor.

Illinois Application Selections

Project selections for the applications were announced by the FRA on January 28, 2010. Illinois received $1.2 billion to bring high-speed passenger rail service to Illinois by 2015-2017. Illinois' signature high-speed rail route received $1.1 billion for corridor improvements between Dwight and St. Louis. The corridor improvements will only take place between Dwight and St. Louis as a result of the 2004 Record of Decision (ROD) that states no action will take place between Dwight and Chicago. Illinois also received $1.25 million to fund the completion of an EIS for the full build out from Chicago to St. Louis. The additional funding ($133 million) was allocated to the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program. The Chicago to Dubuque corridor did not receive funding.

In January 2012, Illinois received $186.3 million for corridor improvements between Joliet and Dwight.

American Recovery Reinvestment Act

ARRA requires that, to the maximum extent possible, Grantees such as IDOT award fixed price contracts through the use of competitive bidding. Only a few high of the high speed rail contracts were not both fixed price and competitively bid. These contracts were entered into between the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR). UPRR, the owner of the railroad, will perform work on its Chicago to St. Louis rail line. The Chicago to St. Louis route has been designated to operate passenger trains up to 110 miles per hour.


  • 2010 Construction Agreement executed on July 16, 2010 - UPRR will perform or cause to perform track related improvements and make the necessary repairs to its railroad between Godfrey and Lincoln Illinois. UPRR will also perform some initial project design and engineering work and limited material purchases.
  • 2011 Construction Agreement executed on March 4, 2011; amended December 29, 2011 - UPRR will perform track related improvements between Joliet and the East St. Louis area (excluding work performed under the 2010 Agreement) including, but not limited to, the rehabilitation of the main line, upgrade of sidings, preparation of engineering design plans, upgrade of culverts, bridges and related structures, installation of turnouts, replacing certain diamond crossings, and signal improvements.

Equipment Procurement

On November 19, 2012, state and federal officials and leaders from Sumitomo Corporation of America (SCOA) announced that Illinois-based Nippon Sharyo was awarded a contract from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to build 130 passenger railcars that will be delivered throughout the Midwest and California. In 2017, the contract with Sumitomo was amended to replace Nippon Sharyo with Siemens. This $317-million contract will supply 137 single-level passenger railcars.

In December 2013, IDOT issued a Notice of Intent to Award to Siemens USA to design, build and deliver the locomotives on behalf of the Departments of Transportation from Illinois, California, Michigan, Washington and Missouri. A notice to proceed was provided to Siemens USA in March 2014. All of the locomotives were delivered in 2017 and are in service.

This next generation equipment procurement is funded through the FRA and has met all requirements to ensure that the final assembly be prepared by American workers, with American-sourced steel, iron, and manufactured components.
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