U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to Amtrak leadership vocalizing his concern over Amtrak’s recent decision to suspend morning train service between Quincy and Chicago until January 16 and replace it with bus service. In his letter, Durbin emphasized that the suspension of service has serious economic consequences for Illinois constituents, many of whom are now left without transportation to and from their jobs.
“I am concerned by Amtrak’s recent decision to suspend morning train service between Quincy and Chicago. Amtrak passenger service provides a vital link between communities in Illinois that my constituents rely on every day to access jobs, education, health care services, and their families. Abruptly cancelling service on these trains will have significant impacts on the daily lives of my constituents and the economies of the communities along the route,” Durbin wrote.
While Amtrak has provided bus service to cover the suspension of the Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr trains, Durbin reiterated that this temporary solution will not be able to meet the true transportation needs of those in the Quincy area. Durbin then called on Amtrak to restore passenger service quickly.
“These trains provide service to more than 5,000 passengers on average per month. Unfortunately, these riders now will face considerable travel disruptions over the next two months. The suspension also raises reasonable questions about how the reliability of the service Amtrak is providing will impact future ridership on these trains. While I understand you are providing charter bus service for the next two months to replace the suspended trains, this is not an acceptable substitute for reliable passenger rail service. I urge you to do all that you can to restore passenger service as soon as possible,” Durbin continued.
Durbin concluded his letter by advising Amtrak to work with rail labor unions to prevent and resolve any future disruptions to passenger service.
“I encourage you to work together with the rail labor unions to implement a more reliable workforce plan that will avoid any disruptions of passenger service in the future. I also request a briefing on the current workforce plans, including hiring and training timelines, for all Illinois Amtrak routes to better understand Amtrak’s efforts to ensure continued, reliable, and on-time passenger service is provided to all Illinois riders,” Durbin wrote.