Jeramey Jannene

Amtrak Bringing Back Hiawatha Trains

Bus service had temporarily replaced trains as pandemic cut ridership.

By - May 27th, 2020 04:27 pm
The Amtrak Hiawatha approaching downtown Milwaukee. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Amtrak Hiawatha approaching downtown Milwaukee. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Amtrak is returning a train to the Hiawatha Service between Milwaukee and Chicago starting June 1st.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic drastically cutting ridership, once-a-day bus service replaced the seven daily trains on April 24th.

Unlike in normal conditions, riders traveling only within the corridor were allowed to board the once-a-day Amtrak Empire Builder which runs from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest. That will continue for the time being.

Amtrak will replace the once-a-day bus with a once-a-day train, departing from Milwaukee at 8:05 a.m. and Chicago at 5:08 p.m. The Empire Builder provides mid-day service with separate trains departing both Chicago (west bound) and Milwaukee (east bound) at 2:15 p.m.

Starting June 29th, Amtrak plans to add more trains as it moves towards more normal service levels. A full schedule is available on the Amtrak website

The system continues to require all riders to wear masks, including in stations. Riders may not pay for tickets using cash currently.

The Hiawatha Service set a new ridership record in 2019 with 876,356 trips, more than double 2003’s total when the system began providing seven daily roundtrips. The route is the busiest non-coastal route in the Amtrak system.

Wisconsin continues to pursue federal grants to support increasing service to 10 round trips per day. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation was awarded a $26.6 million grant in March to partially fund the largest project required to accommodate the increased service, a freight rail bypass in the Menomonee Valley.

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Categories: Transportation

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