Wisconsin, Illinois working on alternatives for expansion of Amtrak’s Milwaukee to Chicago Hiawatha service

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Illinois opposed to certain aspects of current proposal

[Below is a summary of the BizTimes article]

Wisconsin and Illinois are now in talks to come up with alternatives to the planned expansion of Amtrak’s Hiawatha service after the Illinois Department of Transportation made known its opposition to certain aspects to the proposal.

The two states, along with Amtrak, have been considering a roughly $200 million rail-improvement project that would ultimately allow the Hiawatha service to expand from seven to 10 daily trips. The service moves passengers between Milwaukee and Chicago.

One major hangup has been opposition to a proposed two-mile siding, or “holding track,” next to the existing Union Pacific tracks in Glenview, Illinois as well as a three-mile siding through Lake Forest, Illinois.

Marc Magliari, a spokesman with Amtrak, said the tracks used by the Hiawatha service are also used by other passenger and freight rail lines. In order to allow for the Hiawatha service expansion while maintaining reliability, the freight trains need a place to move out of the way when the faster Amtrak trains come through.

However, residents and elected leaders in the two Illinois communities said the holding tracks present environmental and safety concerns, and have lobbied state officials to oppose their construction.

Read the full article here.

Gary Ricke