Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Milwaukee’

Milwaukee Station Has Reduced Hours

May 8, 2020

Amtrak’s Milwaukee Downtown station will have reduced ticket office hours and entrances further notice.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the ticket office will be open between 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Only one entrance, the west door, will be open. The station will be closed between 10 p.m. and 5:15 a.m. to all non-Amtrak personnel in order to clean and disinfect the facility.

Access to the station during the open hours is being limited to ticketed passengers or those wishing to purchase tickets.

In a related development, the waiting room of the Amtrak station in Centralia, Illinois, has been closed until further notice.

Passengers still have access to the boarding platform but must wait there or in a vehicle until trains arrive.

Centralia is served by the City of New Orleans and Chicago-Carbondale corridor trains.

Freight Bypass Might Benefit Amtrak in Milwaukee

March 6, 2020

A proposal to build a freight railroad bypass route in Milwaukee may benefit Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service route.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation recently received a $26.6 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration that will be applied toward creating of the bypass.

WisDOT officials say moving Canadian Pacific freight trains to the route could create a faster flow of Amtrak traffic by diverting them from passing through the downtown Milwaukee station.

The double-track bypass would extend to Menomonee Valley’s Muskego yard and give CP the option of routing trains through the yard instead of through the Amtrak station.

CP trains could also be held in the yard rather than holding on the mainline tracks used by Amtrak.

The bypass project is expected to cost $55 million.

State officials also say the bypass could be a key to increasing the frequency of service on the Hiawatha route from seven to eight.

Wisconsin would like to see Hiawatha service eventually increase to 10 daily roundtrips.

The eighth Hiawatha roundtrip won’t start until WisDOT, CP, Chicago rail commuter agency Metra and the Illinois Department of Transportation finish work on studies of the expansion, including an environmental impact statement.

WisDOT last year received a $2.69 million grant to pay for upgrading the signal system on two miles of track at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station.

The route hosts 20 freight trains and 16 passenger trains including Hiawatha Service and the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

The improved signal system is expected to increase train speeds in the affected area.

Wisconsin DOT Tells Hiawatha Expansion Plans

July 18, 2019

Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee is expected to increase in the next five years, Wisconsin transportation officials said this week.

Speaking at a news conference at the Milwaukee Amtrak station, Arun Rao, manager of passenger rail for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, said the plans call for one additional roundtrip in the next three years following by two more in the two years after that.

Amtrak currently operates seven Hiawatha roundtrips, all of which are funded by Wisconsin and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The corridor also hosts the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

Funding for the expansion comes from an increase in spending on Amtrak service approved this year by the Wisconsin legislature.

WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said the 2019-21 budget includes $10 million in bonding and $25 million in segregated funding for Amtrak Hiawatha services.

“This funding enables us in the department to qualify for federal funds to improve passenger rail service, providing mobility and transportation choices between Milwaukee and Chicago for both business and leisure,” Thompson said.

Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Association of Commerce, said at the news conference that the Hiawatha Service helps the city’s economy.

“We’re part of Chicago’s mega-region, which is one of the 10 largest economic regions in the country, and to put it simply: Commerce is about connections,” he said.

Amtrak ridership statistics showed that the Hiawathas carried more than 858,000 passengers in 2018.

Officials expect ridership to increase by 5.6 percent in 2019.

Joel Brennan, state Department of Administration secretary, said a recent survey found that 40 percent of trips Hiawatha passengers were traveling for business or work related purposes that 60 percent of their trips were same-day round trips.

Infrastructure spending for the Hiawatha corridor includes adding a second platform at the Milwaukee Mitchell Airport Rail Station, which is expected to cost $10 million.

Another $5 million is projected to be spend for new traffic control equipment at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station .

New passenger cars will cost $39 million. Amtrak is seeking a federal grant to help pay for those.

New Thruway Bus Launched Green Bay-Milwaukee

July 2, 2019

Amtrak has launched a new Thruway bus service between Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin, that is designed to connect with Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service trains.

In a news release, Amtrak said the bus, operated by Wisconsin Coach Lines/Coach USA Milwaukee will have intermediate stops in Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac.

The Thruway will operate twice daily and is being provided in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Initially the equipment used will be a Coach USA bus while the Amtrak bus is outfitted. All buses are ADA accessible.

Amtrak said the new service addresses the gap in Interstate 41 service that resulted from Greyhound Lines ending its service last October.

The new Thruway is designed to supplement the existing Lamers daily round-trip on I-41, and the Jefferson Lines and Indian Trails buses that use Interstate 43.

Amtrak said fares from Green Bay to Milwaukee on the bus start at $28 one way and continuing via a Hiawatha train to Chicago is as low as an additional $11 for a total of $39 each way.

Hiawatha Expansion Price Tag Set at $195M

February 14, 2018

The price of expanding Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee has been put at $195 million by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

A WisDOT official told the Milwaukee Public Transportation Review Board that is how much adding three roundtrips to the route would cost.

The board is pushing for expanded service in order to serve Foxconn Technology Group’s planned Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, facility, which could employ up to 13,000 people. The facility is being built near a Hiawatha station in Sturtevant, Wisconsin.

Arun Rao, WisDOT’s passenger rail manager, said the $195 million figure includes $10 million for a second platform at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport station and $49 million for two projects at or near downtown’s Milwaukee Intermodal Station.

Amtrak currently operates seven roundtrips between Chicago and Milwaukee with much of the funding coming from grants provided by WisDOT and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

In fiscal year 2017, Hiawatha Service trains carried more than 829,000 passengers. Studies have projected that adding additional trains would boost ridership past 1 million.

The Conference is Over

January 24, 2018

Having conferred with the engineer of Amtrak’s westbound Empire Builder during a station stop in Milwaukee, the conductor is walking back to his post. No. 7 was running behind schedule due to having to wait in Chicago for connecting passengers from a late Lake Shore Limited. The Milwaukee Amtrak station was built by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad.

Empire Builder in Milwaukee

January 24, 2017

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The Milwaukee Amtrak station is larger than it needs to be given the level of service that it has. I’m speaking of the train shed, not the waiting room.

It’s not that Milwaukee sees just two trains a day as is the case in many cities. No, it has seven Hiawatha Service roundtrips plus the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

Still, there appear to be more track in the station than what Amtrak uses. Shown are three views of the Milwaukee station during the station stop of the westbound Empire Builder in May 2014.