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Senate confirms Chris Koos to Amtrak board

 Passengers getting off Amtrak train
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Uptown Normal
Passengers step off an Amtrak train at Uptown Station in Normal.

After nearly four years of waiting and nominations by two different presidents, the mayor of Normal has a seat on the board of the nation's passenger rail service.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Chris Koos to the Amtrak board.

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois said Koos has a long history as a powerful, positive voice in the Illinois transportation sector.

“He understands the importance of passenger rail to communities in Illinois, the Midwest, and nationwide. His nomination, which we strongly recommended to President Biden, was well deserved. We voted for his confirmation with the confidence that he will grow and protect Amtrak’s national network,” Durbin and Duckworth said in a statement.

Koos, who will serve a five-year term, said he is pleased the vote finally happened.

“It has been a long time coming, but I am looking forward to the work ahead. Amtrak is in a unique position to expand its services nationwide. It is a challenge, but I’m flattered to be chosen to be a part of that,” he said.

Koos' nomination had been held up for a variety of reasons over the years, most recently because a senator was unhappy about the mix of East Coast and Midwestern representatives on the Amtrak board.

Koos replaces former Macomb Mayor Tom Carper on the board. Carper had served since 2008 and chaired the Amtrak board from 2009-2013.

“During his tenure, Mayor Carper ensured that Amtrak was valued as a national passenger rail system that offered valuable connections and economic opportunity to underserved communities,” said the senators.

Among issues Carper focused on were improving safety, grade crossings, financial controls, and oversight of cybersecurity.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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