NEXT GENERATION EQUIPMENT FOR MIDWEST
An Amtrak study requested by the State of Illinois Department of Transportation showed the Dubuque to Chicago route to be very feasible. With passenger rail the preferred mode of short and medium distance travel, the route would likely be attractive to travelers making the trip be it business, educational trips and student travelers, cultural and sports outings, and tourism. Travelers from Dubuque to Chicago and Chicago to Dubuque would be well-served by a passenger train.
Important is the plans for improved infrastructure, new equipment and new technology that makes travel time competitive with other modes. Several states working cooperatively means high-speed Next Generation equipment is on order. Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, and California joined together for a large order of engines and passenger cars. The engines are on order with the Siemens Company and are being built in California. Nippon Sharyo won the contract for the cars and built a new plant at Rochelle, Illinois. Regrettably, the latter encountered a failure in an 800,000-pound stress test and is back to the design board to correct the problem.
Above is the engine being built by the Siemens Company. The representation below shows a typical unit that would serve the Chicago-Dubuque route. Note the color scheme is for illustration purposes only.
The passenger car initially announced for the train as shown above failed a production stress test. A November 2017 announcement notes new passenger coaches for California and Midwest corridor trains will now be filled by Siemens. The joint order by Caltrans and Illinois Department of Transportation is for 137 cars, 88 of which are for the Midwest. The coaches are expected to be similar to the cars Siemens is delivering to Brightline.
The press release touts “spacious, modern interiors that focus on passenger comfort and convenience, such as Wi-Fi, spacious seats with convenient power outlets, large windows with great views for all passengers, bike racks, overhead luggage storage, work tables, state-of-the-art restrooms with touchless controls and full ADA accessibility throughout the cars.”