Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Hiawatha service’

Some Hiawatha Service Trains to Remain Suspended

January 16, 2021

Amtrak said this week that the suspension of some Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains has been extended.

In a service advisory, the passenger carrier said the suspensions will continue due to continued low ridership.

However, Amtrak said that starting Feb. 1 it will add a pair of early morning trains, Nos. 329 and 330.

Trains 331, 337 and 339 will continue to operate from Chicago and Trains 332, 338 and 342 from Milwaukee in order to provide daily morning, afternoon and evening trips.

The advisory said ridership will continue to be evaluated and service restorations are expected later this year.

The Hiawatha Service is funded by the states of Wisconsin and Illinois.

Minnesota Legislature Decline to OK Funding for New Amtrak Service

October 29, 2020

The Minnesota legislature declined to appropriate funding this year to support new Amtrak service between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

Rail passenger advocates had lobbied lawmakers to approve $10 million in matching funds for a federal grant to be used toward launching the service.

The $31.8 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant was awarded in September and is contingent upon it being matched by Minnesota, Wisconsin and Amtrak.

Amtrak has pledged $5 million while the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has agreed to kick in $6.2 million.

The Great River Rail Commission, which represents 18 governmental bodies in Minnesota and Wisconsin, indicated it will try again next year to win legislative approval of the funding from Minnesota lawmakers.

The proposed service would extend one Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service train to the Twin Cities.

The route is also served by the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

Glenview Station to Get Repairs

October 16, 2020

The station used by Amtrak in Glenview, Illinois, will be getting repairs.

The village of Glenview has reached agreement with Chicago commuter rail operator Metra on an estimated $230,000 in maintenance including roof repairs, painting, and replacement to an electric door

The agreement calls for Metra to reimburse the village for the work.

The two sides also agreed that another $4,000 project will repair landscaping along under the rail line that is also used by Canadian Pacific and Amtrak trains.

Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee and its Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle/Portland uses the line.

Public Comment Being Sought on Wisconsin Project

July 20, 2020

Public comment is being sought by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation on a project designed to enable expansion of Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service.

The project is a proposed freight rail bypass of Muskego Yard on Canadian Pacific.

Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service trains as well as the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder use CP tracks through Wisconsin.

The bypass would improve the rail infrastructure in Milwaukee and cost an estimated $54.6 million project.

It would involve construction of a new double-track mainline through the corridor to increase yard capacity and efficiency.

CP freight traffic would no longer operate through the Milwaukee Intermodal Station in the city’s downtown.

Rail traffic would also be removed from several grade crossings in the downtown area.

The project will improve signals, track and bridges in the corridor and is expected to reduce delays for Amtrak because freight-rail traffic will be routed onto grade-separated crossings, WisDOT officials said.

Comments are due Aug. 7. A project presentation may be viewed on the WisDOT Muskego Yard webpage or on YouTube.

WisDOT has proposed increasing Hiawatha Service to 10 roundtrips a day.

The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded WisDOT a $26.6 million grant under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program for the project with the agency and Amtrak expected to provide matching funds.

Hiawatha Service Restoration to Begin June 1

May 26, 2020

Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee was will be gradually restored starting June 1 with one roundtrip.

Additional weekday service will return on June 29. Amtrak suspended Hiawatha Service in favor of a Thruway bus on April 24.

Starting June 1, Train No. 332, which departs Milwaukee at 8:05 a.m. will resume along with No. 339, which departs Chicago at 5:08 p.m.

On June 29 Amtrak will restores Nos. 330, 332, 338 and 342 southbound, and Nos. 329, 331, 337 and 339. Nos. 330 and 329 will operate Monday through Friday only.

The Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder, which uses the same route as the Hiawathas, will continue to stop at all stations served by Hiwathas through June 29.

Effective with that date Nos. 7/27 and 8/28 will cease stopping at Sturtevant and the Milwaukee Airport stations.

Hiawatha tickets will no longer be honored aboard the Empire Builder effective June 29.

Reservations will be required for travel on all trains and passengers must weak a fabric mask.

Bus to Replace Hiawathas Through May 25

April 23, 2020

Amtrak will suspend its Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service on Friday and replace it with a bus.

The service, which had been seven daily roundtrips, has been reduced to one roundtrip during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The carrier said falling ridership prompted it to institute a Thruway Bus in lieu of a train.

The bus will depart from Milwaukee at 7:55 a.m. and arrive at Chicago Union Station at 9:54 a.m.

The bus to Milwaukee will depart Union Station at 5 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station at 6:59 p.m.

In order to maintain social distancing aboard bus passengers must have reservations.

Amtrak said the bus will operate in place of a train through May 25.

The only intercity rail service now operating between Chicago and Milwaukee is the Empire Builder, which links Chicago with Seattle and Portland.

Amtrak Service Cuts Just Keep Coming

March 19, 2020

Amtrak service to Michigan will be reduced to two pairs of trains and service cuts will be imposed on three corridor routes in Illinois.

However, no service reductions are being planned for the long-distance network Amtrak spokesman Marc Magilari told Trains magazine.

Michigan trains that will continue to operate are the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water while Wolverine Service will consist of No 352, which departs Chicago at 1:25 p.m. and arrives in Pontiac at 8:32 p.m. and No. 351, which departs Pontiac at 5:50 a.m. and arrives in Chicago at 10:32 a.m.

Canceled are the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette and two Wolverine Service roundtrips.

On the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, corridor the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini will continue to operate while their counterparts are canceled.

The corridor is also served by the City of New Orleans which provides service northbound in the early morning hours and southbound in late evening.

Between Chicago and Quincy the Carl Sandburg will be canceled while the Illinois Zephyr will continue to operate.

Part of the Chicago-Quincy corridor will continue to be served by the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief.

The Chicago-Milwaukee corridor will be reduced to one Hiawatha Service roundtrip with the Empire Builder picking up some of the slack.

The one Chicago to Milwaukee Hiawatha will depart at 5:08 p.m. for a 6:45 p.m. arrival in Milwaukee.

There will also be a late night bus from Chicago to Milwaukee that leaves Chicago at 9:15 p.m.

The Milwaukee to Chicago Hiawatha will depart at 8:05 a.m. and arriving in Chicago at 9:34 a.m.

The Empire Builder will handle local passengers at all stops, including at Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee airport station, both of which Nos. 7 and 8 normally do not serve.

However, the Empire Builder is an afternoon operation in both directions between Chicago and Milwaukee so passengers will not be able to travel northbound in the morning or southbound in the evening.

On the Chicago-St. Louis corridor the southbound 7 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. departures from Chicago will be cut.

Lincoln Service trains will continue to depart Chicago at 9:25 a.m. and 7 p.m.

From St. Louis, Lincoln Service trains will depart at 4:35 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The Texas Eagle will also continue operating in the corridor. Canceled are northbound Lincoln Service departures from St. Louis at 6:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

For now Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City will continue operating on its current level of service of two roundtrips per day.

On the West Coast, the Capitol Corridor route will see a reduction from 15 to five weekday departures in each direction between Sacramento and Emeryville, California, effective March 23.

This does not include the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight, which uses part of the corridor.

Service reductions on the San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner corridors have not yet been announced.

Cascades Service is no longer operating north of Seattle and will see the last round trip of the day canceled.

A presentation by the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University in Chicago said Amtrak’s current bookings are down 60 percent, future reservations are off 80 percent, and passenger cancellations are up 400 percent compared with the same period last year.

In a related development the Trump administration has proposed that Amtrak receive $500 million in emergency aid.

The carrier had said it needs $1 billion to cover losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding is part of a supplemental appropriation proposal the administration has sent to Congress totaling $45.8 billion.

Amtrak Continues to Pare Service

March 19, 2020

It remains to be seen if Amtrak will suspend or reduce the operations of its long-distance trains, but an online report quoting a union official indicated that onboard service cuts are coming.

The official from the SMART Transportation Division said he has been told to expect sleeping car service to be suspended and dining removed from some trains.

However, the official said he has not been advised by the carrier if it plans to suspend any long-distance trains.

Amtrak has suspended several Midwest corridor trains including three roundtrips in the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor and one roundtrip between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

The Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette has also been suspended.

Service reductions for corridors in Illinois are expected but as of early Thursday morning had yet to be formally announced by Amtrak.

Amtrak operates three corridors in Illinois linking Chicago with Carbondale, Quincy and St. Louis.

The Chicago-Carbondale corridor has two roundtrips plus the Chicago-New Orleans City of Orleans.

The Chicago-Quincy corridor has two roundtrips while the Chicago-St. Louis corridor has four roundtrips plus the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

An online report indicated that effective March 21 Chicago-Carbondale service will be reduced to the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini.

A similar service pattern is expected to be implemented for the Chicago-Quincy corridor with service to Chicago in the morning and returning service in the evening by trains 381 and 381 respectively.

In both corridors, the remaining trains could be covered with one equipment set.

The Empire Builder is also expected to begin carrying local passengers to and from Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Airport station. Neither are regular stops for Nos. 7 and 8.

The New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian also has been suspended along with all Keystone Service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Service reductions have been made in all other eastern corridors as well.

In a service advisory Amtrak said some stations that have ticket agents may not be staffed for all train arrivals and departure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amtrak said passengers should proceed to the platform for boarding if they encounter an unstaffed station that normally has agents directing the boarding process.

Other online reports indicated that Cascade Service between Portland and Eugene, Oregon, will be reduced to one roundtrip with trains 500 and 505 providing the service.

Midwest Corridor Services Being Curtailed

March 18, 2020

Amtrak has announced its first service reductions due to the COVID-19 virus to effect service in the Midwest.

Effective March 19 the carrier will cancel the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette and reduce service on the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) route from three daily roundtrips to two.

Service on the Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service route will also be reduced to four daily roundtrips.

Wolverine Service trains will leave Chicago in early morning and early afternoon with the evening trip canceled.

Westbound trains will depart from Pontiac in early and mid morning with the evening trip to Chicago canceled.

Hiawatha Service will depart from Chicago at 6:10 a.m., 8:25 a.m., 3:15 p.m., 5:08 p.m. and from Milwaukee at 6:15 a.m., 8:05 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:35 p.m.

There will be an 11:40 p.m. bus from Chicago to Milwaukee but not returning bus service is shown on the Amtrak website.

Amtrak earlier had announced that the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian would be canceled between March 19-29.

Other eastern corridor service has also been curtailed with some trains operating on shortened routes.

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.