Speaking of Davenport, what are the issues that'd prevent an Amtrak Quad Cities train(not sure what name this'll probably be called) from going west of Moline into Davenport? Or for that matter, also to Iowa City or eventually onward to Des Moines?
It'd be cool if such a train was ever created, though. I'm sure it'd require cooperation [and] grant money to allow that to happen.
The Iowa Legislature refuses to fund any passenger train service in Iowa. This is the only issue.
This is one of the tragic stories from the Stimulus. And a tragic example of the cost to the country of the Obama Derangement Syndrome that spread thru one of the major parties at about that time. O.D.S. -- simply put: if Obama is for it, we're against it -- helped cause several rail improvement projects to be aborted, including CHI-Milwaukee-Madison, Tampa-Orlando, and the 3-Cs in Ohio (Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati). And Iowa.
Of course, in 2009 and 2010, no state was really ready to push ahead with the Stimulus-funded projects. No one had the environmental stuff done, much less permitting and preliminary engineering. Illinois was ahead of most, and despite a hard deadline less than three months from now (Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year 2017), it's apparently not finished yet!
Iowa was completely unready when the windfall funding was offered. Illinois grabbed money to do CHI-Quad Cities, but Iowa balked at even Quad Cities-Iowa City. Anyway, in the end, Iowa refused to do anything at all and the federal money was reallocated to a happier state.
It was a pity to lose that opportunity, because in this rare instance, the host railroad (Iowa Interstate) actually WANTED to add passenger service because the funding to pay for the needed upgrades would have significantly improved its freight line to Council Bluffs/Omaha.
A new corridor thru central Iowa -- CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha- and eventually onward Lincoln-Denver -- had been discussed and studied for years, but no go. The appeal is obvious. Illinois seems to think that CHI-Quad Cities is viable on its own. Adding a few miles to Iowa City would pick up riders from that market and nearby Cedar Rapids. Down the road a bit, Des Moines is poorly served by the California Zephyr's stop 40ish miles south of the capital city, but could support several trains a day on this central corridor. Omaha is badly served by one train a day each way, so a second round trip is a no brainer. The studies have pondered if Omaha would need 3 or 4 or 5 daily trains. Lincoln, about an hour west of Omaha, is quietly one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest (state capital and main campus U of Nebraska). But the Zephyr arrives after midnight WB and EB is worse, with a 3:20 a.m. arrival, so a second train in Omaha would be very popular. Finally, the Zephyr reportedly is full or even actually sold out CHI-Denver-Greenwood Springs. A second Denver frequency would also fill up.
So the anti-passenger train votes by the Iowa Legislature delayed or killed new or better train service across four states.
Looking forward, it's difficult to see any corridor train proposal being revived, not so long as any one state can sink it. The laws require that any trains of less than 750 miles must be state-supported, not part of the national network. And CHI-Omaha is 500 miles.
But CHI-Denver is 1038 miles. So Amtrak could start a new second train on the route between Chicago and Denver, but only IF Denver is on the list of approved begin/end-point cities named in the law. I don't recall if it is or isn't, but I think it isn't.
If Denver is not a pre-approved end-point for a new train, Amtrak could ask Congress to amend the law or make this one exception. Or it could make Denver a stop on a longer train to an approved city, like L.A.
A CHI-Denver train should perform well. However, making it longer gets risky. God forbid a revived Desert Wind CHI-DEN-Las Vegas-L.A. Or worse, a revived Pioneer CHI-DEN-SLC-Boise-Portland. (Amtrak's study of a revived Pioneer showed its results would be the worst in the system, in the sub-basement below the 3-days-per-week Sunset.)
Perhaps a WB CHI-DEN train could leave the Zephyr route for a Front Range route, heading down to Colorado Springs-Pueblo-Trinidad to join the Southwest Chief route Albuquerque-Flagstaff-L.A. Or turn south again Albuquerque-El Paso-Tucson-Maricopa (Phoenix)-L.A.
A better solution could be a loop route:
Long form: CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha-Lincoln-DEN-Colorado Springs-Pueblo-La Junta-Newton (Wichita)-Kansas City-CHI.
Short form: CHI-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines-Omaha-Lincoln-St Joseph-Kansas City-CHI.
Alternate for both long form & short form loops: -Kansas City-Jefferson City-St Louis-CHI.
All the usual disclaimers apply: Need more equipment, agreement with freight hosts, tweaking of departure and arrival times, etc. But the loops do not require permission from the Legislature of the State of Iowa.