MILWAUKEE — Travelers who utilize the Amtrak Hiawatha to get between Milwaukee and Chicago can look forward to new amenities, after the Wisconsin Department of Transportation was awarded a grant to make upgrades.
The Federal Railroad Administration awarded the DOT $25.7 million as part of the federally sponsored "state of good repair" program, according to a release from the DOT.
Transit authorities plan to use the grant to acquire new passenger rail cars for use on the Hiawatha line. WisDOT will purchase three cab-coach cars and six coach cars with the grant, replacing equipment that is nearing the end of its life and becoming costly to maintain.
Adding these additional cars to that pool will ensure that the Hiawatha Service will be fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment from this fleet, officials said.
“This is great news for our passengers,” said Craig Thompson, WisDOT Secretary-designee, “The public will get their first glimpse of the new cars beginning late 2020.”
The new passenger cars will expand the train’s seating capacity. The Amtrak Hiawatha is the busiest train in the Midwest and ninth busiest in the nation, serving almost 860,000 passengers in 2018, according to the DOT.
Ridership has grown by six percent in the first six months of 2019. In addition to expanding capacity the new cars will reduce fuel consumption, reduce overhaul costs, increase equipment reliability and improve accessibility for passengers with disabilities.
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