Hiawatha Service
Hiawatha Service in Glenview, October 2018.jpg
Hiawatha Service at Glenview, October 2018
Overview
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleIllinois/Wisconsin
PredecessorMilwaukee Road corridor trains
First serviceMay 1, 1971 (1971-05-01)
Current operator(s)Amtrak, in partnership with Illinois and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation
Annual ridership241,639 (FY21) Decrease −72.6%[1][a]
Route
StartMilwaukee, Wisconsin
Stops5
EndChicago, Illinois
Distance travelled86 miles (138 km)
Average journey time1 hour, 29 minutes
Service frequencySeven round trips (Mon–Sat)
Six round trips (Sun)
Train number(s)329–344
On-board services
Class(es)Coach Class
Disabled accessAll cars, all stations
Catering facilitiesNone
Baggage facilitiesOverhead racks, checked baggage available at Chicago and Milwaukee
Technical
Rolling stockHorizon
Siemens Charger
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Operating speed57 mph (92 km/h) (avg.)
79 mph (127 km/h) (top)
Route map
86 mi
138 km
Milwaukee
Milwaukee Streetcar
78 mi
126 km
Milwaukee Airport
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport
63 mi
101 km
Sturtevant
Chicago River (north branch)
MD-N to Fox Lake
16 mi
26 km
Glenview
Metra
0 mi
0 km
Chicago
Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg Metra
Amtrak Hiawatha
Amtrak Hiawatha

The Hiawatha Service, or simply Hiawatha, is an 86-mile (138 km) train route operated by Amtrak on the western shore of Lake Michigan between Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. However, the name was historically applied to several different routes that extended across the Midwest and to the Pacific Ocean. As of 2007, fourteen trains (seven round-trips, six on Sunday) run daily between Chicago and Milwaukee,[2] making intermediate stops in Glenview, Illinois, Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. The line is partially supported by funds from the state governments of Wisconsin and Illinois.[3]

The service carried over 800,000 passengers in fiscal year 2011, a 4.7% increase over FY2010. Revenue during FY2011 totaled $14,953,873, a 6.1% increase over FY2010.[4] It is Amtrak's ninth-busiest route, and the railroad's busiest line in the Midwest.[4] Ridership has been steadily increasing, with 8 of the last 9 years showing ridership increases as of 2013.[5] Ridership per mile is also very high, exceeded only by the Northeast Regional and the Capitol Corridor. A one-way trip between Milwaukee and Chicago takes about 90 minutes. In the 1930s, the same trip took 75 minutes on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad's Hiawatha.[6] In 2014, free Wi-Fi service was added to the Hiawatha Service.[7] The service is especially popular with fans attending games involving baseball's Brewers–Cubs rivalry using mass transit, with trains before and after games at either American Family Field or Wrigley Field often filled to capacity.[8][9]

The route is augmented by Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach routes connecting Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac with Milwaukee and Madison, Janesville, and Rockford with Chicago.

On April 24, 2020, the Hiawatha was temporarily replaced by bus service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Partial service resumed in June 2020, and full service in May 2021.

History

Milwaukee Road

Main article: Hiawatha (train)

Hiawatha logo from the Milwaukee Road days.
Hiawatha logo from the Milwaukee Road days.
An Afternoon Hiawatha depicted on a postcard between 1956-1963.
An Afternoon Hiawatha depicted on a postcard between 1956-1963.

Historically, the Hiawathas were operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (also known as the "Milwaukee Road"), and initially traveled from Chicago to the Twin Cities. The first Hiawatha trains ran in 1935. By 1948, there were five routes carrying the Hiawatha name: Chicago–Minneapolis, Chicago–Omaha, Chicago–Wausau–Minocqua, Chicago–Ontanogan, and Chicago-Minneapolis-Seattle.

The Hiawathas were among the world's fastest trains in the 1930s and 1940s, and these trains reached some of their peak speeds on this stretch, directly competing with trains from the Chicago and North Western Railway which ran on roughly parallel tracks. A 90-minute non-stop service between Chicago and Milwaukee was first introduced in the mid-1930s, and this later fell to 75 minutes for several years. A self-imposed 100 miles per hour (161 km/h) speed limit was routinely exceeded by locomotive engineers, until the Interstate Commerce Commission rules imposed a stricter limit of 90 mph (145 km/h) in the early 1950s. The train slowed to a schedule of 80 minutes, though an added stop in Glenview also contributed to a longer travel time. Ultimately, the speed limit fell to 79 mph (127 km/h) in 1968 because of signaling changes, and the scheduled duration went back to 90 minutes end-to-end.[10]

Amtrak

Under Amtrak, which assumed control of most intercity passenger rail service in the United States on May 1, 1971, the Hiawatha name survived in two forms. The first was a Chicago–Milwaukee–Minneapolis service, known simply as the Hiawatha. This would be renamed the Twin Cities Hiawatha, then extended to Seattle and renamed the North Coast Hiawatha. This service ended in 1979.[11]: 30–31, 73 

The second was a Chicago–Milwaukee corridor train known as the Hiawatha Service (as opposed to Hiawatha). Although Amtrak had retained Chicago–Milwaukee service during the transition, it did not name these trains until October 29, 1972. At this time both Hiawatha and Hiawatha Service could be found on the same timetable. On June 15, 1976, Amtrak introduced Turboliners to the route and the name Hiawatha Service left the timetable, not to return until 1989. The Chicago–Milwaukee trains were known simply as "Turboliners" (as were comparable trains on the Chicago–Detroit and Chicago – St. Louis corridors) until October 26, 1980, when Amtrak introduced individual names for each of the trains: The Badger, the LaSalle, the Nicollet, and the Radisson. This practice ended on October 29, 1989, when the name Hiawatha Service returned as an umbrella term for all Chicago–Milwaukee service.[12]

A resurfacing project on Interstate 94 led to a three-month trial of service west of Milwaukee to Watertown, Wisconsin beginning on April 13, 1998. Intermediate stops included Wauwatosa, Elm Grove, Pewaukee, and Oconomowoc. Amtrak extended four of the six daily Hiawathas over the route. The Canadian Pacific Railway, which owned the tracks through its American subsidiary Soo Line Railroad, estimated that the route would require between $15–33 million in capital investment before it could host the extended service permanently. Money was not forthcoming and service ended July 11. The three-month trial cost $1.4 million and carried 32,000 passengers.[13]: 184 [14][15]

Between 2000 and 2001, Amtrak considered extending one Hiawatha Service round-trip 70 miles (113 km) north from Milwaukee to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Potential stops included Elm Grove, Brookfield, Slinger, and Lomira. Travel time would be nearly two hours. Amtrak hoped to attract mail and express business along the route as part of its Network Growth Strategy, similar to the short-lived Lake Country Limited. Amtrak abandoned the idea in September 2001.[16]

In 2005, another station opened on the line, the Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. The expansion was intended to facilitate travel to and from the airport, with shuttles running between the station and the main terminal. The new station also gave residents on the south side of Milwaukee easier access to the service, along with an alternative to the central station in downtown, which is now fully accessible after completion of the Marquette Interchange. The station was primarily funded and is maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.[citation needed]

It is proposed that the Hiawatha Service, along with the Empire Builder, would shift one stop north to North Glenview in Glenview, Illinois. This move would eliminate lengthy stops which block traffic on Glenview Road. This move would involve reconstruction of the North Glenview station to handle the additional traffic, and depends on commitments from Glenview, the Illinois General Assembly, and Metra.[17]

The route is coextensive with the far southern leg of the Empire Builder, Amtrak's long-distance service from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest. The Empire Builder stops at Glenview and Milwaukee, but normally does so in both cases only to receive passengers northbound and discharge passengers southbound.

COVID-19 pandemic

Train service was suspended on April 24, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, replaced with an Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach route between Milwaukee and Chicago.[18] To make up for the loss of service, the Empire Builder added stops at Sturtevant and Milwaukee Airport, and temporarily allowed local travel between Chicago and Milwaukee.

The Hiawatha returned on June 1, 2020, with a single round trip: a morning departure to Chicago and an evening return to Milwaukee. Three daily round trips and two weekend round trips returned on June 29. The Hiawatha had long run with a mix of reserved and unreserved seating, but Amtrak, IDOT, and WisDOT temporarily required reservations for passengers without multi-ride tickets in order to maintain social distancing. Amtrak also required facial coverings and stopped accepting cash. The Peak Fare Surcharge was suspended for these trains.[19]

On May 23, 2021, Hiawatha Service returned to its full pre-pandemic schedule. Thruway bus service to Green Bay also resumed that day.[20]

Corridor names

This table shows the names given to trains which operated over the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor under Amtrak. It excludes long-distance trains such as the Empire Builder and North Coast Hiawatha whose local stopping patterns were restricted. The Abraham Lincoln and Prairie State were Chicago-St. Louis services which Amtrak extended through Chicago to the north in the early 1970s.

1971-11-14 1972-10-29 1973-10-28 1975-11-30 1976-06-15 1980-10-26 1984-10-28 1985-04-28 1989-10-29 Present
Abraham Lincoln  
Prairie State  
  Hiawatha Service   Hiawatha Service
  Turboliner  
  LaSalle  
  Marquette  
  Nicollet  
  Radisson  
  Badger  
  Encore  

Ridership

Traffic by Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Ridership Ticket Revenue Ref.
2007 595,336 $10,230,272 [21]
2008 749,659 Increase025.92% $13,138,765 Increase028.43% [21]
2009 738,231 Decrease01.52% $13,300,511 Increase01.23% [21]
2010 783,060 Increase06.07% $14,092,803 Increase05.96% [22]
2011 819,493 Increase04.65% $14,953,873 Increase06.11% [22]
2012 838,355 Increase02.30% $15,963,261 Increase06.75% [23]
2013 778,469 Decrease07.14% $16,287,184 Increase02.03% [24][note 1]
2014 799,638 Increase02.72% $16,794,044 Increase03.10% [24]
2015 799,271 Decrease00.05%
2016 807,720 Increase01.06% [25]
2017 829,000 Increase02.63% [26]
2018 844,396 Increase01.86% [27]
2019 882,189 Increase04.48% [28]
2020 403,112 Decrease054.3% [29]
2021 241,639 Decrease040.1% [30]

Due primarily to the route's popularity, its northern terminus, Milwaukee Intermodal Station, is Amtrak's 18th-busiest station nationwide and second-busiest in the Midwest.[31]

Notes:

  1. ^ The 2013 and subsequent numbers have been adjusted to account for multi-ride tickets.

Equipment

Two trainsets are required to operate the service. The usual Hiawatha train sets are formed of one Siemens SC-44 locomotive on the southward end, an EMD F40PH derived "cabbage car" on the northward end, and six Horizon Fleet 68-seat coaches. One car at the rear end in the direction of travel is designated a "quiet" car with limitations placed on cell phone usage and loud conservations. During winter months, an Amfleet coach is normally used on each end in lieu of a Horizon coach to serve as quiet cars.

On July 17, 2009, the State of Wisconsin announced it would purchase two new train sets from Spanish manufacturer Talgo in preparation for the enhanced-speed service that received funding in early 2010. However, Governor Scott Walker rejected the federal funding and cancelled the project. Talgo opened a manufacturing plant in Milwaukee to construct the trainsets for the Hiawatha Service, and the company hoped the plant would also build trains for future high-speed lines in the region.[32] The two sets built were stored in the former Talgo plant until May 2014, when Amtrak moved them to its maintenance facility near Indianapolis, Indiana. They will remain stored there pending their possible use on other Amtrak routes. The unpowered tilting trainsets are 14 cars long including a cab car, eleven coaches (five of which have restrooms), one bistro car, and one end car including a bicycle rack. The cars wear a red-and-white livery in homage to the University of Wisconsin. The trains would have initially been pulled by the same GE Genesis locomotives used at the time, which have a top speed of 110 mph.[33] In 2022, the Talgo equipment was sold to a railway company in Nigeria.[34]

In August 2019, the Federal Railroad Administration awarded WisDOT up to $25.2 million to purchase six new coaches and three new cab cars for the route, allowing the replacement of the NPCUs.[35] The new equipment is expected to enter service in 2022.[36]

Proposed extensions

In 2021, Amtrak proposed adding three new Hiawatha Service round trips by 2035. This would bring the total frequency between Chicago and Milwaukee to ten daily trains. All trips would extend beyond Milwaukee, with four daily trains to Madison, three to Saint Paul, and three to Green Bay.[37]

In November 2021, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes $4 billion for public transportation in Illinois. A portion of these funds are expected to go to Hiawatha Service improvements.[38]

Madison

In 2009, Wisconsin applied for funding from an $8 billion pool allocated for rail projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the Chicago–Milwaukee–MadisonMinneapolis/St. Paul corridor was allocated $823 million.[39] $810 million of that was to support extending Amtrak services to Madison, which had not seen direct intercity service since 1971. Another $12 million would have been used to upgrade the line between Chicago and Milwaukee, and an additional $600,000 was granted to study future alignments to the Twin Cities.[40][41]

The Madison extension was initially planned to include stops in Brookfield, Oconomowoc, and Watertown,[39] but Oconomowoc and Brookfield were reluctant to move forward with station planning due to cost concerns. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) dropped Oconomowoc from the planned route in August 2010,[42] and Brookfield was waiting to see the outcome of elections in November before making a decision on whether to build a station.[43] The nearby cities of Hartland and Wauwatosa had expressed interest in hosting stations. The extension was expected to begin service by 2013.

The project became a political issue in the 2010 Wisconsin gubernatorial election. Republican candidate Scott Walker promised he would stop the project and return the money the state received if elected.[44] When asked whether it would be realistic to stop work, Governor Doyle expressed pessimism and said in part:

This is about an interstate high-speed rail system in the United States. Just like the Interstate Highway System–that's a federal system. [...] Short of sitting down in front of the federal government and defying the federal government, I don't think it's realistic to say that this project would stop.[45]

At the end of October 2010, Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle and the federal government signed an agreement that bound the state to spend the federal funds granted to construct the route, regardless of the results of the 2010 gubernatorial election.[46] On November 4, two days after Scott Walker won the gubernatorial election, however, Doyle ordered work on the line to be temporarily halted,[47] and on November 9 said that he planned to leave the choice of whether or not to operate the train to Walker.[48]

On December 9, 2010, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that much of the $810 million that Wisconsin was supposed to get would be redistributed to other states, including California, Florida, and Washington.

Twin Cities

Main article: TCMC (train)

There are proposals to extend one or more Hiawatha trips from Milwaukee to Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota, serving the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago (TCMC) corridor.

A 2015 feasibility report by Amtrak looked at extending one round trip as a "second train" along the route of the Empire Builder through La Crosse. Annual ridership was forecast between 117,800 and 155,500 if the service ended at Saint Paul Union Depot, and higher if it extended to Target Field, Fridley, or St. Cloud.[49]

The total cost to extend one round trip to Saint Paul has been placed at $53 million.[50] In May 2020, a $12.6 million federal grant was awarded to offset the first three years of operations. A $31.8 million grant followed in September 2020 for final design work and construction. Amtrak provided $5 million in matching funds, Wisconsin $6.2 million, and Minnesota promised $10 million.[51]

As of 2021, this extension to Saint Paul is projected to start in 2024.[50]

In its 2020-2035 expansion vision, Amtrak proposed extending three Hiawatha trips from Milwaukee to the Twin Cities. One would compliment the Empire Builder, while two would take a new route with stops in Camp Douglas, Eau Claire, Menomonie, and Hudson. The Milwaukee–Saint Paul trip time is estimated at 6 hours 45 minutes.[52]

Green Bay

Amtrak has proposed extending three Hiawatha trips from Milwaukee to Green Bay by 2035, with stops in Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, and Appleton. The Milwaukee–Green Bay trip time is estimated at 2 hours 50 minutes.[53][54]

Station stops

State Town/City Station Connections
Illinois Chicago Chicago Union Station
Glenview Glenview Amtrak Amtrak: Empire Builder
Metra Metra:  Milwaukee District North
Pace (transit) Pace: 210, 422, 423
Wisconsin Sturtevant Sturtevant Ryde Racine Ryde: 20, 27
Milwaukee Milwaukee Airport Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport Shuttle to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport
Milwaukee Amtrak Amtrak: Empire Builder
The Hop (streetcar) The Hop
Milwaukee County Transit System Milwaukee County Transit System: 12, 31, 57
Bus interchange Intercity buses: Greyhound Lines Greyhound, Wisconsin Coach Lines, Jefferson Lines, Lamers Bus Lines, Indian Trails, Megabus (North America) Megabus

See also

References

Route map:

  1. ^ "Amtrak Fiscal Year 2021 Ridership" (PDF). Amtrak. September 30, 2021. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  2. ^ Wisconsin Department of Transportation (May 1, 2007). "Rail Transportation in Wisconsin". Archived from the original on October 27, 2007. Retrieved December 11, 2007.
  3. ^ "Amtrak Hiawatha Service breaks ridership record" (Press release). Wisconsin Department of Transportation. January 11, 2007. Retrieved December 11, 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Amtrak Ridership Rolls Up Best-Ever Records" (PDF). Amtrak. October 10, 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  5. ^ Mulvany, Lydia (August 15, 2013). "Amtrak's Hiawatha route tops monthly ridership record". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  6. ^ "Official Guide". September 1938. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
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  8. ^ Jones, Meg (September 20, 2017). "Amtrak adds late-night Milwaukee-Chicago trains just in time for Cubs series at Miller Park". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on September 26, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2021.
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  10. ^ Scribbins, Jim (2007) [1970]. The Hiawatha Story. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-5003-3.
  11. ^ Goldberg, Bruce (1981). Amtrak--the first decade. Silver Spring, MD: Alan Books. OCLC 7925036.
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  13. ^ Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34705-3.
  14. ^ "Amtrak temporary service extension approved". Telegraph-Herald. February 28, 1998. Archived from the original on December 8, 2021. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  15. ^ Sandler, Larry (July 14, 1998). "Madison-Chicago rail link discussed". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
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  38. ^ Price, Shepard (November 9, 2021). "New infrastructure bill could help Amtrak expand". Alton Telegraph. Archived from the original on November 9, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
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  40. ^ "Wis to get $822 million for rail". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. January 28, 2010. Archived from the original on February 2, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
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  42. ^ Sean Ryan (August 19, 2010). "WisDOT nixes Oconomowoc high-speed rail stop". The Business Journal of Milwaukee. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
  43. ^ "Brookfield station decision delayed until after election". The Business Journal of Milwaukee. September 24, 2010. Archived from the original on September 26, 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
  44. ^ "Walker would give back $810M for high-speed rail". Associated Press/WLUK-TV. August 16, 2010. Archived from the original on February 17, 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
  45. ^ "Madison high speed rail station Q+A". Learfield News. YouTube. July 1, 2010. Archived from the original on August 4, 2010. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
  46. ^ "Wisconsin high-speed rail project "locked in"". Trains Magazine. November 2, 2010. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  47. ^ "State halts work on high speed rail line". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. November 4, 2010. Archived from the original on November 6, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
  48. ^ "Anti-rail Wisconsin Governor-elect will decide on fast-train plan". Trains Magazine. November 9, 2010. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  49. ^ "Feasibility Report on Proposed Amtrak Service Chicago-Milwaukee-LaCrosse-Twin Cities-(St. Cloud)" (PDF). Amtrak. May 6, 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 10, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  50. ^ a b "Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service". wisconsindot.gov. Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on November 9, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
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Notes

  1. ^ Amtrak's Fiscal Year (FY) runs from October 1st of the prior year to September 30th of the named year.