Emanuel revives plan to build express rail line from Loop to O'Hare

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is reviving a plan to build a brand new express rail line between downtown and O’Hare airport.

He claims it would give a jet-powered boost to Chicago’s search for new employers and new jobs.

A train to the plane from the Loop to O’Hare in under 20 minutes, with a possible one-way fare of $50? Not for everyone. But some travelers tired of expressway traffic jams say they'd happily pay.

City Hall specifications call for express trains to run every 15 minutes, with fares similar to taxicabs and Uber. The mayor insists for now the project will be privately financed and get no local tax dollars.

Former Mayor Rich Daley first proposed it in 2010, inspired by Shanghai’s express train. Moving at up to 268 miles an hour, it carries passengers 18 miles to the airport in only seven minutes.  

“Mayor Emanuel is really putting some energy behind this idea of a world-class service to O’Hare. He sees this happening around the world. He wants to see it happen here,” said DePaul University transportation expert Joseph Schweiterman.

A new study ranked Chicago the best-connected airport city in America, a major reason Chicago’s also been number one in corporate relocations for four straight years.

“This investment will write the next chapter, in my view, in Chicago’s story as an economic powerhouse that moves at lightning speed,” Mayor Emanuel said.

City Hall set late January as a deadline for bids on the express train project. It is anybody's guess, though, as to when construction might begin and when the first express trains might eventually roll.

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