Union Pacific, frequently identified – rightly or wrongly – as a foe of joint freight/passenger rail operations, may be the first major railroad to sign such an implementing agreement, reports the Journal of Commerce.

The Journal of Commerce quoted UP CEO Jim Young as saying he is “confident” that UP and the State of Illinois will agree on terms to operate a 110-mph Amtrak train over UP tracks between Chicago and St. Louis.

The cost of improving the right-of-way to handle higher speed trains, plus the cost of the equipment and stations, is estimated at some $4 billion, and Union Pacific and the State of Illinois are expecting a federal stimulus grant totaling some 25 percent of the projected cost.