January 29, 2015

Mayor Emanuel Announces $12 Million Commitment from Amtrak to Begin Major Rehabilitation of Chicago’s Union Station

First Part of a $500 Million Plan to Overhaul Transit Center’s Aging Infrastructure

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that Amtrak has made a commitment of $12 million to continue renovations of Chicago’s 90-year-old Union Station. In the coming weeks and months, Mayor Emanuel will work in coordination with the federal government, the state of Illinois, Metra, and Amtrak to facilitate a complete overhaul of Union Station that will require a multi-year, $500 million investment.

“By bringing Union Station into the 21st century, we will bring more economic opportunities to residents all throughout the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “A modern transit system is essential to a thriving economy for Chicago. With this investment in the future of Union Station we will provide a more reliable link between downtown and our neighborhoods, connecting residents to work and keeping Chicago on the move.”

Union Station is the third busiest rail terminal in the United States with roughly 120,000 passengers served each day. With increased ridership of both Amtrak and Metra, the station often reaches its maximum capacity, resulting in overcrowded waiting areas and platforms. Starting this year, Amtrak will invest $12 million in improvements that will create a more comfortable and passenger-friendly station by addressing some of the most critical capacity and service issues. This work will include planning and design for a larger passenger concourse, making safety improvements, enhancing temperature controls and conducting necessary repairs to the Station’s exterior façade.

“The City of Chicago has made an unprecedented investment in working with Amtrak and Chicago Union Station stakeholders in improving the station for current passenger counts and for the future of the region’s transportation network,” said Ray Lang, President of the Amtrak-owned Chicago Union Station Co. “The development of this station for all its users and for this neighborhood is a national Amtrak priority. Our 2015 spending plan, announced by Mayor Emanuel, is evidence of our commitment.”

The rehabilitation of Union Station will be supported by projects already underway to expand its role as a central and growing transit hub, linking neighborhoods to jobs, and neighboring states and counties to Chicago. These include building the Union Station Transportation Center, a consolidated Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus terminal on city-owned land across the street that will anchor the new Central Loop Bus Rapid Transit Corridor. This corridor will connect Amtrak, Metra, the CTA Blue Line and many downtown destinations, and serve as a key link between commuter and intercity rail, resulting in faster, more reliable transit to help people get between home and work. Investing to create next-generation infrastructure in Chicago is a critical piece of the Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs.

“We are extremely gratified by Mayor Emanuel’s commitment to the transformation of Union Station. It is absolutely essential that the facility is modernized and we are happy to work with the mayor to make that happen,” said Metra Chairman Martin Oberman. “In addition, Amtrak’s investment of $12 million into Union Station improvements next year is very much appreciated by Metra and the thousands of Metra riders who use the station every day.”

In addition to this initial phase of rehabilitation, in the coming months, Mayor Emanuel will work with Amtrak, Metra and state and federal partners to start the engineering and design studies necessary to initiate a project of this size and scope and move forward with improvements recommended in the Union Station Master Plan.

# # #