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News / Transport & Travel

Four groups want to help Chicago build an O’Hare express train

O'Hare CTA station
Photograph: CC/Flickr/Dino Quinzani

The city is still a long way off from actually building the fabled O'Hare express train, but four groups have answered the request for qualifications that the Chicago Infrastructure Trust issued in late 2017. According to a press release, the project aims to build a dedicated train line from downtown Chicago to O'Hare that could make the trip in 20 minutes or less.

The four groups that answered the RFP are:

The Boring Company
Oaktree Capital Management
O’Hare Express Train Partners (OHL Infrastructure, Kiewit, Amtrak)
O’Hare Xpress LLC (Meridiam, Antarctica Capital, JLC Infrastructure, Mott MacDonald and First Transit)

The release doesn't go into any detail about the type of train that each group is proposing—in the past Deputy Mayor Bob Rivkin has proposed a train that corresponds to (built above or below the existing tracks) the Metra North Central line and a combination of freight railroads that run west to Forest Park and north to O’Hare.

Thanks to Twitter conversations with Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, we know a little bit about the Boring Company's proposal for the express train. Musk wants to drill a series of tunnels beneath the city, creating a "high-speed loop" that would convey passengers to and from the airport in "electric pods." 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has previously insisted that taxpayer funds won't be used to make the O'Hare express train a reality, but the project is inevitably going to require a sizable investment. Cost estimates for each of the projects submitted as part of the RFP were not released, but it's a good bet that the ultimate cost of building a dedicated express train could total hundreds of millions of dollars.

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