The Iowa Interstate Railroad remains willing to host new passenger rail service across Iowa if the state and Amtrak can reach an agreement to develop and fund it, a top executive of the Cedar Rapids-based railroad says.
“The railroad is more than willing to work with Amtrak, the states, or anybody else that’s involved in passenger service,” said Henry Posner III, chairman of the Iowa Interstate’s board and of its parent company Railroad Development Corp. “Our main business is freight, but one of the benefits of being a railroad is you can do more than one thing at once.”
A feasibility study on new rail service between Chicago and Omaha picked the Iowa Interstate’s route across the state from Davenport through Iowa City and Des Moines. Public meetings on the study will be held next month in cities along the line.
Iowa Interstate is already working with Amtrak and Illinois to restore passenger service between Chicago and Moline by 2015. Former Gov. Chet Culver was an enthusiastic supporter of extending that service to Iowa City, but current Gov. Terry Branstad and state House Republicans oppose the $3 million annual subsidy that would require. “We’re back to, does Iowa want to be a part of it?” said Posner. “If Iowa’s interested, we can work it out.”
Do you think it’s worth $3 million a year in state taxpayer-funded subsidies to get Amtrak service from Chicago to Iowa City?