Union Station Master Plan Study Underway
The Chicago Department of Transportation is currently conducting a Master Plan Study for Union Station. The study's aim is to determine how the station can provide sufficient capacity for increased Metra and intercity ridership in the future, as well as facilitate better access to other public transit such as Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains and buses. Without modifications, Union Station will be unable to accommodate growth in Metra and Amtrak service in both train and passenger capacity. Amtrak owns Union Station, and Metra is the station's primary tenant -- both organizations have been involved in the planning process, which has been going on for approximately one year. Ideas for improvements are broken down into short-, medium-, and long-term ideas. After developing simulation models to evaluate alternatives for improving street access, tracks/platforms, and station configuration, the Master Plan Study will identify agencies to lead individual projects, as well as explore public-private partnership opportunities. An open house public meeting was held on December 15 to discuss improvements (read more about the meeting in the Chicago Tribune).
The Master Plan Study has significant relevance to GO TO 2040 as it includes an evaluation of the West Loop Transportation Center, one of the five major capital projects identified in the region's comprehensive plan. The West Loop Transportation Center is necessary for Chicago to become, as intended, the hub of a Midwest high-speed rail network, as it improves connections between proposed high-speed rail (and current interregional rail), Metra, and CTA. This project would create a multimodal transportation center in the West Loop, with direct pedestrian connections between Union and Ogilvie Stations and a new CTA rail branch. Beyond supporting high-speed rail, it is expected to provide significant immediate benefits to the many Metra lines terminating at Union Station, improves connections between Union and Ogilvie Stations, and eases transfers between Metra and CTA.
CMAP is currently participating on the study's technical advisory committee and has funded phase three of the Chicago Union Station Master Plan through the Unified Work Program. Phase three of the Master Plan Study includes the development of a train operation simulation model to assess capacity of alternative station plans, including the West Loop Transportation Center.
Phase three of the Union Station Master Plan Study includes the development of a train operation simulation model to assess capacity of alternative station plans, including the West Loop Transportation Center (one of GO TO 2040's major capital projects).