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“Ridership is soaring:” Improvement projects announced for Amtrak’s Hiawatha line

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Improvements will be coming to Amtrak’s Hiawatha train line that runs from Milwaukee to Chicago.

In 2018, more than 850,000 people rode the train and that number is expected to be even higher by the end of 2019.

On Wednesday, local leaders discussed three projects that are needed in order to keep up with ridership and reliability.

Two grants were awarded earlier this year. One of the grants will help add another platform at Milwaukee’s Airport Rail Station. The other grant will improve signaling.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is also waiting on another grant that would bring in new train cars.

Leaders say the goal of all of the projects is to help keep the route reliable.

“Ridership is soaring,” WisDOT Passenger Rail Manager Arun Rao said. “It's a critical option for the business community and the general public and other travelers in this region. I think the big takeaway is the impact it has on commerce and the business community.”

There are currently seven daily round-trips from Milwaukee to Chicago. Rao said they plan to add another in the next few years and eventually have 10.

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