Jeramey Jannene

Daily Service Returns to Amtrak’s Milwaukee-Chicago Line

Hiawatha Service was slashed one year ago amidst pandemic.

By - Apr 22nd, 2021 02:12 pm
An Amtrak Hiawatha Service train crosses N. Plankinton Ave. near the Milwaukee Intermodal Station. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

An Amtrak Hiawatha Service train crosses N. Plankinton Ave. near the Milwaukee Intermodal Station. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

It’s going to be easier to go between Milwaukee and Chicago soon.

Amtrak is restoring its full schedule of seven weekday roundtrips on the Hiawatha Service starting May 23rd, but advance reservations will continue to be required.

The announcement comes almost a year to the day after the railroad cut all Hiawatha train service and replaced it with a once-a-day bus. It has restored train service in phases and is currently operating three roundtrips. It also has a one-way, nonstop bus trip that leaves at 9:15 p.m. from Chicago for Milwaukee.

The service will now be restored to its pre-pandemic schedule. Seven roundtrips will operate between Milwaukee, Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, Sturtevant, Glenview and Chicago on Monday through Friday.

Six roundtrips are offered on Saturday and Sunday. A late-night, one-way train from Chicago to Milwaukee will again be offered on Friday night and a corresponding one-way trip from Milwaukee to Chicago on Saturday.

The Amtrak Thruway Bus service is also being restored to two daily roundtrips between Milwaukee, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Appleton, De Pere and Green Bay.

The Empire Builder, which runs between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest via Milwaukee and St. Paul will also return to daily service starting May 24th.  It had been cut to three days a week as a result of a pandemic-induced decline in ridership and resulting budget issues.

A full schedule is available on the Amtrak website.

Under federal law and Amtrak policy, face masks are required to be worn while riding Amtrak and in passenger stations. The railroad reports that all trains are equipped with onboard filtration systems that exchange fresh air every four to five minutes.

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. It’s the busiest non-coastal route in the Amtrak system.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation, in partnership with Minnesota and Illinois, continues to pursue a second daily Empire Builder train between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago as well as increasing the number of Hiawatha roundtrips to 10 daily.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said Amtrak was only recently offering roundtrips on Monday through Friday. The railroad website offers conflicting language, but under the current schedule it is offering three round trips every day.

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More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Categories: Transportation, Weekly

One thought on “Transportation: Daily Service Returns to Amtrak’s Milwaukee-Chicago Line”

  1. 45 years in the City says:

    I believe the current 3x per day schedule is daily. The change in May only has to do with # trips per day.

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