Illinois is at the center of the nation’s rail network. It has a comprehensive rail network consisting of approximately 9,982 miles of railroad tracks, 7,792 of which are operated by Class I railroads – primarily BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad (UP). Class I railroads are large freight companies, Class II and Class III are small regional railroad companies. The remaining 2,190 miles of track are operated by Class III short line or regional railroads. A total of 41 railroads currently operate in Illinois. They range in size from a short one-mile interstate carrier to larger railroads extending from Illinois to the West and East Coasts, Gulf of Mexico, Canada, and Mexico. Seven are freight (Class I) carriers and 34 are regional, local, switching and terminal railroads.
In all, 40 railroads are able to provide service from Illinois to every part of the United States. Chicago is the largest US rail gateway and there is another major rail center located in East St. Louis. Rail’s importance to both Chicago and the state is highlighted by the fact that over 1,300 freight, passenger and commuter trains pass through the Chicago region every day and, in 2011, Illinois ranked first in the nation in terms of rail freight volume at 490.4 million tons.
Illinois boasts four intercity passenger rail corridors that make connections to 32 Amtrak stations across the state. Amtrak offers travelers 14 stations that quickly connect with bus service, two that connect with ferry service, and six that connect with intercity bus service.
Are you a rail traveler? If so, please visit our Passenger Services webpage.