After an Amtrak report highlighted that only 10 percent of northbound Illini/Saluki trains arrive in Chicago on time, Sen. Dick Durbin introduced a bill that would allow Amtrak to bring lawsuits against freight railroad companies that don’t give Amtrak trains the priority required by law.
In a moment of apparent bipartisanship, Rep. Rodney Davis held a meeting at the Illinois Terminal to bring together representatives from Amtrak and Canadian National Railway to try to fix the problem.
However, after the meeting, Rep. Davis said that he doesn’t support Durbin’s bill because it is “a premature step right now” and that “(he) want(s) to try and solve the problem without going to litigation.”
I’m not sure why Davis believes that a bill that would allow Amtrak to enforce existing law is premature.
Delayed Amtrak trains in Champaign have been a problem since at least 2011, when then-Mayor Don Gerard held a similar meeting that failed to create any lasting improvement for Saluki and Illini trains.
While I would love for everyone to come together and find a solution, CN is actively ignoring its legal obligation to Amtrak.
Giving Amtrak the ability to recoup damages directly would allow them to change CN’s behavior.
Davis’ refusal to support the bill lets CN off the hook, costs taxpayers money and hurts Champaign by subjecting Amtrak service between Champaign and Chicago to daily delays.