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Federal, state and local officials late last week announced an additional $7 million in federal funds to help improve rail service at Chicago's Union Station.The funds will be used to conduct a terminal planning study and create a service development plan to increase capacity at the 90-year-old station. The funds build on the January announcement that Amtrak would commit $12 million to continue station renovations this year, according to a press release issued by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.) office.During the next few months, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will work in coordination with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the state of Illinois, Metra and Amtrak to facilitate a $500 million station overhaul, according to the press release.Chicago's Union Station is the third-busiest rail terminal in the nation, serving more than 300 trains per weekday. As a result, the station currently operates at or near capacity during peak periods. Demand for passenger- and freight-rail service through the Chicago region is expected to grown considerably in the coming years, officials said."With this infusion of federal, state and local funding we’ll be easing rail congestion outside the station and laying the groundwork for a vast improvement of the passenger experience inside the station," Durbin said.In 2014, 32.5 million Metra riders arrived or departed on trains at the station; nearly 2.3 million passenger trips on Amtrak were made between the station and Midwest destinations.
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