People who want to preserve state subsidies for Amtrak want Gov. Bruce Rauner to know they have not gone away. A news conference featuring state lawmakers from college towns along the rails praised Rauner for wanting to tackle the budget deficit but pointed out the Amtrak subsidy, which Rauner wants to cut by forty percent, comes from a fuel tax and not from the general revenue fund. Besides, they say, the trains are an economic engine.
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“Years ago, Galesburg was designated by Congress as the site of the National Railroad Hall of Fame,” says Bill Morris, executive director of tourism for the Galesburg Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They've been raising a lot of funds over the past few years, and it looks like there's a possibility of breaking ground in 2017. It's going to be very important for us to have our continued round trip service with the Illinois Zephyr and the Carl Sandburg. We are projecting 100,000 visitors to the Hall of Fame.” State Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) says the home of the University of Illinois needs more service, not less.
“On any given day that the train is due, you will come into our station in downtown Champaign and see students and passengers sprawled all over the public waiting area. This is due in part because we don't have an additional train,” Ammons said.