Chicago to Council Bluffs-Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System Planning Study


The Iowa Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration and Illinois Department of Transportation, has completed the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) for the Chicago to Council Bluffs-Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System Planning Study. Public hearings were held on the Draft EIS at three locations in December 2012, and an online meeting was conducted.

Comments on the Draft EIS were used for developing the Final EIS. The document was also updated with information derived in generating a Service Development Plan that addressed the rationale for and details of the proposed passenger rail service, including a plan for phased implementation of the service, an operating plan for each phase of service, and a capital and financial plan for determining the types and amounts of funding needed for each phase of service.

The Final EIS and ROD (Record of Decision) are available for review.

Dependent on funding availability, the project will move on to the next step, which is a staged implementation plan involving Tier 2 Project Level environmental studies, preliminary design, final design, right-of-way acquisition, construction of infrastructure upgrades, and implementation of the service.

The Study

The Chicago to Council Bluffs-Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System Planning Study has completed the Tier 1 Final EIS that analyzes the feasibility of expanding existing passenger rail service and developing a new regional passenger rail service from Chicago, Ill., to Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb.

Federal Railroad Administration - Chicago to Council Bluffs-Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System Planning Study

The purpose of this study is to:

  • Evaluate potential route alternatives.
  • Evaluate levels of service and ridership potential.
  • Analyze potential environmental impacts.
  • Determine a preferred route alternative for Chicago to Council Bluffs-Omaha passenger rail service.

The potential improvements would complement the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative's vision for developing an improved and expanded regional intercity passenger rail system. The completion of the study will be a major step in assessing the viability of a high-speed, regional intercity passenger rail system serving Iowa and the Midwest through this corridor. Expanding passenger rail service between Chicago and Council Bluffs-Omaha would provide decreased travel times, increased frequency of passenger rail service, and improved reliability (particularly in inclement weather) versus other travel modes.

Tier 1 EIS Schedule Chart

Community Tool Kit

Tool Kit items can be used by interested groups when with talking to their members or by any community leader who wants to know the facts concerning the study. Feel free to download the entire package, or choose the pieces that best fit your needs.
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