Chicago-Milwaukee Inter City Passeneger Rail Corridor
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in partnership with Amtrak, are conducting an Environmental Assessment and Service Development Plan for service improvements on the Amtrak Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee. The proposed service improvements include:
- increasing daily Amtrak Hiawatha Service frequencies from the current seven round-trips to 10 round-trips, and
- reducing travel times, potentially through an increase in maximum speed to 90 MPH between Rondout, Illinois, and the General Mitchell International Airport (GMIA)
Governor Scott Walker rejected over $800 million in Recovery Act funds to extend the Chicago-Milwaukee Amtrak service to Madison. Other states, primarily California and Florida, received the rejected funds. Service was expected to begin by 2013, with an initial 6 round-trips per day.
KRM Commuter rail
The Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) commuter rail service is a proposed, separately operated extension of the Chicago-Kenosha Metra line. The cost of the 35-mile route is estimated at $200 million. Wisconsin state budget cuts, demanding the closing of all regional transit authorities, forced the sponsoring agency – SERTA – to dissolve. Due to this major setback, the project is on hold for the time being. Link to project website.
Dane County Commuter Rail
Former Gov. Jim Doyle approved a funding plan for a Madison Regional Transit Authority (RTA) for Dane County, which would coordinate studies into routes and transit options. However, a November 2010 non-binding referendum soundly defeated this project and subsequent budget cuts forced all Wisconsin RTA’s to close.
The MWRRI envisions 7 daily round trips from Chicago to Green Bay via Milwaukee, with additional stops in Appleton, Oshkosh, and several other cities and towns along a 180-mile corridor. A coalition called NEWRails, seeks to help raise awareness and support for the project in order to initiate more concrete planning. Creating a passenger rail link between Milwaukee and Green Bay is a priority of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Link to NEWRails.