DWIGHT, ILL. – Village officials were joined by state and Amtrak representatives on October 27, 2016, to celebrate the opening of Dwight’s new passenger rail station. The $3.3 million depot is located about one block southwest of the village’s old Chicago & Alton Railroad (C&A) station, and it is the first of many new or renovated passenger facilities planned between Chicago and St. Louis as part of a multi-year program to enhance rail service in Illinois. The event included remarks by Illinois DOT (IDOT) Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. Lincoln Service (Chicago-St. Louis) trains began making regular stops at the new station the following day.
Under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program, the state of Illinois received $1.2 billion to improve the vital Chicago-St. Louis rail corridor so that passenger trains will be able to attain regular speeds of 110 mph. When completed in 2017, the upgraded line is expected to present an even stronger transportation alternative for drivers along the congested Interstate 55 corridor. Construction of the Dwight station was funded under the HSIPR.
Designed by Chicago-based Legat Architects, a firm experienced in train station projects, the new 1,500 square foot depot is a contemporary structure of variegated brown brick and glass. As the building moves towards the railroad, it widens, and the dramatically angled roof rises to its highest point. Walls of glass provide views out toward the tracks and allow ample natural light to flood the airy waiting room. The depot includes accessible restrooms and complimentary Wi-Fi for customers. A new 500 foot long concrete platform has tactile edging and is lined with bright lighting. Parking is available for automobiles and bicycles, and outdoor seating looks onto landscaped areas.
“This rail and new depot in Dwight are a key economic tool for sustainability and economic development and will remain a big economic driver for our area,” said Village of Dwight President Jared Anderson in an IDOT release. “Dwight and our surrounding communities benefit greatly from Illinois Amtrak service.”
The C&A depot, designed by well-known Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb and opened to the traveling public in spring 1892, will continue to house the Dwight Historical Society museum and the Dwight Chamber of Commerce.
The depot ribbon cutting occurred 30 years to the day that Amtrak began serving Dwight. On October 27, 1986, nearly 500 people – including a group of kindergartners – gathered at the C&A depot to mark the occasion, which included speeches by village, state and Amtrak officials and music by the Dwight High School band. Service initially consisted of the daily Loop (Chicago-Springfield) and State House (Chicago-St. Louis).
Dwight is served by seven daily Lincoln Service (Chicago-St. Louis) trains. In fiscal year 2015, nearly 10,200 people began or ended their journey at the Dwight station. That same year, the Lincoln Service, financed primarily through funds made available by IDOT, carried more than 576,000 customers.
Check out the IDOT fact sheet on the Dwight station.