A coalition of interests led by Amtrak has submitted applications for nearly a billion dollars of federal funding for the Chicago Hub Improvement Programme (Chip).

The City of Chicago and Amtrak hope to be awarded $872m by the US Federal Railroad Administration. 

The project aims to transform Chicago’s Union station back into the hub it once was, and re-establishing the main line between Chicago and Detroit, in neighbouring Michigan. 

Amtrak, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Metra and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) are behind the revitalisation project, which was launched in 2012 with a “master plan” and rebooted in 2018 by former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. 

The neoclassic Union Station will remain, but with modern additions including a new glass-and-steel skyscraper across the street. 

Elsewhere in the “Windy City,” a new bridge over the Chicago River at 18th St will reduce journey times to other cities in Illinois such as Champaign-Urbana, Centralia and Carbondale. Trains currently have to reverse to access the former Illinois mainline from Union Station. 

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Joliet Station will have a new platform added, in a much-needed capacity boost for the congested commuter hub. 

The project is expected to cost $1.1bn, with $872m raised from the Federal-State Partnership Programme, which is funded by the Biden administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Amtrak and its partners will contribute a further $18m. This includes $50m from the state’s Rebuild Illinois capital programme.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is part of the coalition applying for federal funds, with the hope Detroit will gain economically from a rejuvenated Midwest rail network. 

High Speed Rail Alliance executive director Rick Harnish said: “Bringing our cities closer together with fast, frequent, and affordable trains is key to attracting the dynamic businesses and innovative workforce needed to transition to the green economy.”