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Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Amtrak proposes making Madison a Wisconsin railway hub

National Railroad Passenger Corporation Amtrak released an “aspirational” 15 year proposal Wednesday to connect Madison to a series of railways that would span the nation. Amtrack’s proposal comes just before president Biden unveiled a massive $2 billion infrastructure project that almost certainly will allocate funds towards railway transportation.

Amtrack’s proposed railway would connect Madison to Milwaukee and would also provide routes to Eau Claire, Green Bay and the Twin cities. Amtrak currently operates a number of railways, including one connecting the Milwaukee and Chicago areas.  

Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari emphasized that the proposed route would help connect Madison to the greater Wisconsin area and other midwestern communities.

“Under this plan, it’ll be easier for states to do what Wisconsin has talked about doing for a long time, which is put Madison and other communities on the map to be directly serviced by Amtrak trains,” said Magliari.

Officials have considered the idea of connecting Madison to Milwaukee via railway previously, with former Gov. Jim Doyle securing federal funding for such a project in 2010. The project was ultimately abandoned after Doyle was replaced by Scott Walker who declined to begin construction on the railway. 

Currently, the closest Amtrak station to Madison is located 31 miles away in the town of Columbus, which takes approximately 40 minutes to reach by car. 

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway voiced her support for the Amtrak proposal, saying that she believes the new rail line would help to reinvigorate Madison’s local economy.

“I think this would be something that would be fantastic for our economy for our region and for our state… I am absolutely in favor of this,” Rhodes-Conway said in an interview with Channel 3000.

Amtrak officials emphasized that the routes detailed in the map represent the company’s hopes for the future and are not necessarily indicative of what Amtrak will realistically be able to accomplish in the next 15 years.

“This is an aspirational map, not prescriptive,” said Magliari. “There are other ideas that others will have.” 

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