Trains.com

Chicago to Green Bay Amtrak Service.

1759 views
30 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Chicago to Green Bay Amtrak Service.
Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, July 10, 2021 3:03 PM

So I finally got a straight answer from the powers that be on this service that I will keep anonymous.    The Chicago to Green Bay service is viewed by the state as largely unattainanble given the current and most likely future political climate and only appears on state rail plans as a "dream /  wish" type item.   At this point in time the State does not think it will ever happen.    Which explains why WisDOT has not made any type of financial moves or produced any more studies on this corridor.    Rather disappointing and in my view if that is the state position the corridor should be removed from future rail plan maps.     

I heard similar that Chicago to Madison is also currently dead with complete lack of any political support in Madison (exactly as it was before the Obama proposal of 2008-2009).     So primarily all they are going to work on is Chicago to Milwaukee and Chicago to Twin Cities (Empire Builder route that avoids Madison).      Hopefully something changes and in my view the state needs to have a rail support group that pushes more for rail passenger projects.    So as for both I am going to stop focusing any attention on them until I see something really concrete as a measure of progress.    Seems that Amtrak thinks Chicago to Green Bay is in it's future but that would be Amtrak acting on it's own it seems.    Which is not likely either.

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 276 posts
Posted by BEAUSABRE on Saturday, July 10, 2021 3:15 PM

CMStPnP
in my view the state needs to have a rail support group that pushes more for rail passenger projects.

Why?

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 4,361 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, July 10, 2021 4:47 PM

BEAUSABRE

 

 
CMStPnP
in my view the state needs to have a rail support group that pushes more for rail passenger projects.

 

Why?

 

If you examine the purpose of this Passenger Forum,  it is about modern passenger rail,  not opposition to it. 

"The place to discuss Amtrak, the future of passenger rail, and high speed proposals."

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, July 10, 2021 5:26 PM

BEAUSABRE
Why?

It's an Economic choice like any other.   Wisconsin can choose to keep favoring Highway and Airports but then limited mobility translates into more limited opportunities, less growth and less opportunity.    I can get by without a car in North Texas at this point, I can walk to the light rail station to get access to the airport and most points in Dallas and Fort Worth.    The grocery store is withiin walking distance as well.   I can buy a bike with trailer to pull in my groceries or order them over the internet for home delivery.

Not having to buy a car significantly increases my standard of living over someone living in Wisconsin by an average of least $9-10,000 a year.    No state income tax and my property taxes are still much lower than Wisconsin even though I have far more public amenities than I would in Metro Milwaukee or Metro Madison.   Over time the state and it's residents will pay a steep price for apathy in this regard.   It is not a question of IF but of WHEN.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,140 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, July 10, 2021 6:29 PM

charlie hebdo
"The place to discuss Amtrak, the future of passenger rail, and high speed proposals."

But there surely is a place for those whose discussion of Amtrak involves its shortcomings, who think the future of passenger rail in the coming age of autonomous electric vehicles is limited, and who think high-speed proposals in the United States may be boondoggles (as with so many high-dollar projects that only shave minutes at most off trip times)

Now, I agree thoroughly with you that this is a railfan's site, and we're supposed to be positive about and promote passenger railroading.  But the original post about Green Bay service itself had a decidedly pessimistic air... which in a spirit of fair discussion and appraisal might be appropriate here.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 20,881 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, July 10, 2021 9:42 PM

The USA itself is a boondoggle.

Jus ask the rest of the world.

  • Member since
    October 2014
  • 657 posts
Posted by Gramp on Saturday, July 10, 2021 10:05 PM

As much as I'd like to see passenger rail in northeast Wisconsin, there are greater needs and more potential benefits. I think any tax dollars going toward passenger service in Wisconsin should be directed toward making Hiawatha and Builder route service stellar. In my case I can hop a Lamers bus (Amtrak affiliate) one mile from here to connect with Hiawatha at Milwaukee Intermodal station 80 miles from here if I want.

(The Builder doesn't have to go west of Fargo (or Grand Forks) in my thinking, at least in the winter time. Better chance of on time service). 

What I'd like to see is CN dropping and picking up double stack blocks at Neenah for northeast Wisconsin companies. Georgia Pacific announced they're about to build a 1.1 million sq.ft. Distribution Center in DePere for its paper mills in GB (next to CN mainline).  70 to 80 semis a day.  Green Bay Pkging just finished building a half billion mill from scratch in GB, the first new mill built in Wisconsin in 30 years. 

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, July 11, 2021 3:12 AM

Gramp
As much as I'd like to see passenger rail in northeast Wisconsin, there are greater needs and more potential benefits. I think any tax dollars going toward passenger service in Wisconsin should be directed toward making Hiawatha and Builder route service stellar. In my case I can hop a Lamers bus (Amtrak affiliate) one mile from here to connect with Hiawatha at Milwaukee Intermodal station 80 miles from here if I want.

I agree something is better than nothing.    What is disappointing to me is the state was in this meeting arguing there needs to be a greater grass roots push for Green Bay service while at the same time actively placing it on future rail plans as if it is going to happen anyway (misinformation).    Which has the effect of eroding grass roots organization.    Why form an organization if your state already says it will happen?     So that is my issue here.   Along with the representative not being well versed enough in the subject matter to know where the active existing rail lines are.   Perhaps that wasn't his job.....don't know.   Happily it wasn't the WisDOT, it was another planning org.

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,140 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, July 11, 2021 7:34 AM

CMStPnP
Why form an organization if your state already says it will happen?

Why form an organization unless your state says it's arranging to make it happen?

You're interested in the art of the possible, not waving your crayon for the theoretical.  (Not to disparage those promoting 'future possibilities' like Midwest HSR; we're discussing specific services with already-identified scope and much of the planning work, demographics, etc. already in the can...)

Admittedly it may be a little harder to get butts out of armchairs (or fingers onto keyboards?) when the political commitment to fully providing the service for a guaranteed period of time has been made... but that is precisely the time to be getting the word out about the service and ensuring that it is in fact implemented properly, gets the patronage as early as possible to survive, and gets the political acknowledgement that 'might' be necessary to retain it as a subsidy priority -- I presume it cannot and would not survive even on above-the-line revenue without that.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, July 15, 2021 12:03 PM

Actually, I think before I start any work effort on this I am going to Email some of the city mayors along the route to see if this is "pie in the sky" from their point of view or something that has potential.   That will fill another void of information I guess.

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 4,361 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, July 15, 2021 4:25 PM

I think one obstacle is that there hasn't been passenger rail service in over 50 years.  Thus few people in that area ever would have ridden a train along the proposed line.  This is a barrier in other areas, too. 

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, July 15, 2021 5:14 PM

charlie hebdo

I think one obstacle is that there hasn't been passenger rail service in over 50 years.  Thus few people in that area ever would have ridden a train along the proposed line.  This is a barrier in other areas, too. 

From WisDOT 2004 estimates:

Chicago-Milwaukee-Green Bay Intercity Passenger Rail Corridor Also in the long-range time horizon, improved intercity passenger rail service is planned to be extended from Chicago to Milwaukee to Green Bay. The cities served and route alignment will be determined pending the results of the environmental study. Consistent with the third phase of MWRRI plan implementation, train speeds between Chicago and Milwaukee are planned to be increased to up to 110 miles per hour and train frequencies increased to 17 round-trips, as shown in Map 6-7. Seven of these trains will be extended from Milwaukee to Green Bay. Estimated travel time (based on preliminary 2004 MWRRI estimates) between Chicago and Milwaukee is approximately one hour, and between Milwaukee and Green Bay is approximately two hours.

Now they stated elsewhere in the report they found that at 90 mph best Chicago to Milwaukee could hope for was 1 hour and 18 min and that would be a no stop express train.   So the above estimate of 1 hour flat I am guessing is 110 mph cooridor and a no stop express train Chicago to Milwaukee.    I mentioned in a much earlier thread it looked like at some point WisDOT was going to experiment with no stop express trains on Chicago to Milwaukee Corridor and the 17 train frequency plan I think is more of an indication that not all trains will stop at every station.

Now look at the projected ridership they came up with in 2004:

Extend service to Minneapolis/St. Paul

• Approximately 1,860,000 annual riders in the first year of service (ten daily round-trips between Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison with six of those extending to Minneapolis/St. Paul)

Chicago-Milwaukee-Green Bay ( I don't understand why so many more will travel to Green Bay, rather odd).

• Approximately 3,357,000 annual riders in first year of service (17 daily round-trips between Chicago and Milwaukee, with 10 of those trips continuing to Minneapolis/St. Paul and seven continuing to Green Bay) 

NOTE: Estimates for the Long-term Plan were undertaken as part of the Midwest Regional Rail System Study (2004 MWRRI Project Notebook Update) and are from a different source and use different methodology than the ChicagoMilwaukee-Madison ridership estimates developed in 2009, which estimated the Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison segment ridership (10 round-trips between Chicago and Milwaukee with 6 extending to Madison) at 1,401,600 in the first year of service). New ridership estimates for the Chicago-Minneapolis/St, Paul corridor are being developed as part of the MnDOT Tier 1 EIS study.

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 4,361 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, July 22, 2021 4:01 PM

You saw their studies, I assume?  I just don't understand how they come up with ridership to support an expensive to build GB to MKE •fast• service multiple times per day, when passenger trains have not been seen on that route in 50 years. 

https://gopresstimes.com/2021/04/14/amtrak-green-bay-proposal-faces-many-stops-along-the-route/

 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,140 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, July 22, 2021 4:36 PM

charlie hebdo
I just don't understand how they come up with ridership to support an expensive to build GB to MKE •fast• service multiple times per day, when passenger trains have not been seen on that route in 50 years. 

If you have to overestimate, might as well make it a whopper.

Not that I wouldn't love to see it built, and thrive.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, July 22, 2021 9:09 PM

charlie hebdo
You saw their studies, I assume?  I just don't understand how they come up with ridership to support an expensive to build GB to MKE •fast• service multiple times per day, when passenger trains have not been seen on that route in 50 years. 

Well first the C&NW tracks are gone completely between West Bend and points North.   CN uses primarily ex-Wisconsin Central or Soo Line tracks.     They kept some of the C&NW tracks in place for example the route through Oshkosh uses C&NW route and they abandoned the Soo Line route through Oshkosh because of street running and there was a sharp curve downtown which was derailment prone.    Between Fond Du Lac and Oshkosh the C&NW and SOO ran fairly close side by side so I am not sure how much of that double track they kept.

Well there are two sources of info here,  WisDOT which tends to deal in the  here and now and what is achieveable and SEWRPC = Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Committee - which tends to be some kind of drug induced fantasy.

SEWPRC has proposed restoring both ex-CNW lines, one via Manitowoc and the other being Fox River Valley.    On their maps they show the bike paths becoming rail lines again for the eastern line, plus use of eminent domain to reclaim ROW that was abandoned.     On the FOX RIVER VALLEY line they propose restoring West Bend to Fond Du Lac which is a bike path now.     Other maps show the service using CP to Duplainville and CN the rest of the way up.   Fast DMU service on the lakefront line,   Regular bi-level trains on the Fox River Valley line.   

I asked a WISDot rep on restoring service to Green Bay I got a very terse "thats sometime way off in future".    Which to me I interpret as they see it as a long shot at best.   SEWPRC, however is the one stoking peoples beliefs that it could happen.    I don't know what the Amtrak position is.

The last time the Fox River Valley folks got stirred up on potential restoration of Chicago to Green Bay service was 2004 and that was basically the last study done on it.

Also check this out......Green Bay to Chicago passengers only pay $11 each way on the Hiawatha corridor from Milwaukee to Chicago..........that makes no sense to me........why would they discount that????????

https://media.amtrak.com/2019/07/new-green-bay-milwaukee-amtrak-bus-service/

 

  • Member since
    October 2014
  • 657 posts
Posted by Gramp on Friday, July 23, 2021 12:28 AM

Green Bay's county has a population of 265,000. Mostly trees north of there. From GB's perspective it has the choice of  two interstates to get to Milwaukee. About the same distance either route. How many cities of that size have such a choice?

CN's line is good but not speedy. Even has a "helper district" south out of Fond du Lac. 

I think this is all a nonstarter. 

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 4,361 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, July 23, 2021 10:39 AM

Gramp

Green Bay's county has a population of 265,000. Mostly trees north of there. From GB's perspective it has the choice of  two interstates to get to Milwaukee. About the same distance either route. How many cities of that size have such a choice?

CN's line is good but not speedy. Even has a "helper district" south out of Fond du Lac. 

I think this is all a nonstarter. 

 

Agree. There are plenty of other corridors or city pairs under 500 miles far more suitable. Even in Dairyland,  service between Madison and MKE makes more economic sense. 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,140 posts
Posted by Overmod on Friday, July 23, 2021 11:34 AM

As a dumb question: is there significant congestion on the Interstate routes north of Milwaukee toward Green Bay, or substantial congestion outside 'rush' times around Green Bay itself?

Because for a very insignificant fraction of the cost to provide PRIIA 125mph equipment for that part of the route you could provide high-speed articulated 'luxury buses' instead of the Amtrak Thruway horrors, and run them with a full set of amenities, and operate at high sustained speed over an infrastructure already fully built out and Government-maintained.

Yes, you have to change at Milwaukee.  Is a one-seat ride to Green Bay offered many times a day worth the incremental cost to provide it over a guaranteed-connection exchange of the kind Amtrak now advertises?

(An additional point: I see Amtrak now advertises that 'over a million people a year' ride (or are made to ride) Thruway service.  I'd suspect that better buses for a great number of these services would be a decided advantage, particularly as dedicated 'feeders' for longer-distance high-speed or sleeper trains.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, July 23, 2021 1:10 PM

Overmod
As a dumb question: is there significant congestion on the Interstate routes north of Milwaukee toward Green Bay, or substantial congestion outside 'rush' times around Green Bay itself?

Yes, Appleton is the Paper production center of the state, massive paper mills around there.   They get most of the logs from E&LS via interchange in Green Bay to CN.   Driving up summer on 41 which is only a 2 lane interstate in both directions.    Congestion points approaching Fond Du Lac, Oshkosh (University extension there is popular), Neenah-Menasha (Paper mills).   Have not experienced Green Bay.    However deal is folks live in Fond Du Lac but work in Oshkosh and same with Neenah Menasha and reverse.    Not a big rush hour but congestion.   So traveling through to Green Bay you will hit a slow down on 41 at least twice before you hit Green Bay if not more.    Also Summer road construction season presents slowdowns and narrowing of Interstate to one lane in some cases.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, July 23, 2021 1:14 PM

Overmod
An additional point: I see Amtrak now advertises that 'over a million people a year' ride (or are made to ride) Thruway service.  I'd suspect that better buses for a great number of these services would be a decided advantage, particularly as dedicated 'feeders' for longer-distance high-speed or sleeper trains.

So they contract with Wisconsin Coach Lines (BTDT in Wisconsin) and their contracted rate for a RT between Milwaukee and Green Bay would be close to $500-600 per bus RT on that route.    So it does not take much for Amtrak to break even on the bus service.   You can do the math on ticket prices and contract rates to figure out min passengers each trip.    They are nice buses to charter but the seats are too close for me and the restroom too tiny as well.   Setra busses from Europe would be better. :)

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 12,456 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, July 23, 2021 1:55 PM

Are there any motor coach operators in the United States that have those busses in their fleets?  You can only charter what's available.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,140 posts
Posted by Overmod on Friday, July 23, 2021 2:05 PM

I'm thinking that Amtrak either purchases the special buses or provides access to preferential financing for them -- that might extend to PRIIA-like consortium activity for 'train-like buses' that might be suitable for other "non-transit" customers -- casinos and resort hotels; regional attractions or 'promoted' areas; better entertainer accommodation...

What I'm vaguely thinking... and it might be wrong... is that the potential market for Chicago-Green Bay rail might be tested with service that is 'trainlike' in as many respects aside from 110/125mph speed and one-seat ride as possible.  This might also test what amenities this particular pool of potential riders values vs. those whose cost might be 'better allocated elsewhere'.

Narrow-track seat buses stopping at roadside truck stops (no matter how delightful the 'cuisine' options that might be offered there) is not a substitute.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, July 23, 2021 7:18 PM

Overmod
I'm thinking that Amtrak either purchases the special buses or provides access to preferential financing for them -- that might extend to PRIIA-like consortium activity for 'train-like buses' that might be suitable for other "non-transit" customers -- casinos and resort hotels; regional attractions or 'promoted' areas; better entertainer accommodation... What I'm vaguely thinking... and it might be wrong... is that the potential market for Chicago-Green Bay rail might be tested with service that is 'trainlike' in as many respects aside from 110/125mph speed and one-seat ride as possible.  This might also test what amenities this particular pool of potential riders values vs. those whose cost might be 'better allocated elsewhere'. Narrow-track seat buses stopping at roadside truck stops (no matter how delightful the 'cuisine' options that might be offered there) is not a substitute.

Well according to the signs on the side of the bus where Wisconsin Coach Lines has it's logo next to Amtrak Thruway.   It is either contracted or 50-50 joint venture.   I tend to think it is contracted because WCL would not buy buses unless they had like a 10-15 year contract signed.    I am not sure Amtrak would sign a contract that long.  Could be a 50-50 venture.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, July 23, 2021 7:34 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

Are there any motor coach operators in the United States that have those busses in their fleets?  You can only charter what's available.

I do not know they just started to sell them in the United States in 2020.   I think eventually they will run American brands out of business.....that is how much better they are.    I started a seperate Amtrak Thruway thread.

  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 10,353 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, July 24, 2021 1:42 AM

From what I am reading here Green bay really cannot support rail service yet.  Do not know about ADA.  However once Amtrak gets enough spare equipment football charters to / from CHI on specific days might work ?  Collector trains for home games and collector trains for games in CHI ?  Main proble would be getting and keeping T&E crew qualifiedor having a competent  pilot assigned?

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 4,361 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, July 24, 2021 8:18 AM

I don't think chartered trains from CHI for one Bears game in GB and vice versa yearly is viable. Trains to Miller Park from Chicago, maybe. 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,140 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, July 24, 2021 8:30 AM

charlie hebdo
Trains to Miller Park from Chicago, maybe.

What specifically would be involved?

I successfully helped agitate for a stop at the East Rutherford Giants stadium (using ex-EL push-pull sets to start) lo! these many years ago.  It would seem logical that a 'train to the game' would be attractive from Chicago even if shuttle bus operation were involved at the Milwaukee end.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, July 24, 2021 8:55 AM

charlie hebdo
Trains to Miller Park from Chicago, maybe. 

The sad thing is they are already doing this but disembarking at Milwaukee Intermodal Station and riding a special St. Paul Ave shuttle bus to the park.    I think it would be better if the trains ran to the stadium but I can also see CP bitching about interference because they would have to pass cut-off tower for Muskego yard plus run through crossovers near the stadium to reverse direction or run against traffic.   

Plus the stop for the stadium would be around a blind curve from the West.    They had a third track laid there back a few years ago on the Stadium side but I have not looked if it is still there.    The Stadium station itself would probably cost $10-15 million.   Brought it up to the Mayor of Milwaukee and he was ethused about it but he is not going to initiate anything and expects me to push it through.    So maybe I'll ask WisDot rep next if they think it is feasible.

EDIT and ADDED:  So on this item it reminded me to send an EMail to Stadium Marketing group about pushing WisDOT for a station stop at the Stadium so that Amtrak trains could be extended from Intermodal Station for special events at the Stadium.   I told them it would probably need an extra holding track at least plus a Station, platform and shelter.   So would need State and Federal buy-in probably that perhaps WisDOT could work on.   We'll see if they run with it or if I get a form rejection letter.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, July 24, 2021 9:04 AM

blue streak 1
From what I am reading here Green bay really cannot support rail service yet.  Do not know about ADA.  However once Amtrak gets enough spare equipment football charters to / from CHI on specific days might work ?  Collector trains for home games and collector trains for games in CHI ?  Main proble would be getting and keeping T&E crew qualifiedor having a competent  pilot assigned?

20th Century Railroad Club used to do annual Charters, Chicago to Oshkosh via Duplainville interlocking.   CP to Duplainville and WC to Oshkosh for the EAA fly-in using Amtrak Superliner equipment, I think the last train was 8-9 Superliner cars.   After CN took over from WC that stopped and CN tore up the layover track they used to park the train in Oshkosh.    When I asked why they never ran once since they said dealing with CN for special passenger runs was like pulling your teeth out.  They tried it but the process was long and dragged out.....they threw in the towel.

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 5,304 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, July 24, 2021 9:12 AM

BTW, CP, UP and CN all have the same public relations policy when it comes to discussing future rail passenger operations.   They will not particpate at more than a very high and very vaque level without someone compensating the time of their employees.    So if you want engineering, signaling details or even cost estimates, you have to pay them for their staff time, materials, travel, etc. in advance of the meeting.    They do not fund that themselves and I think the reason was so many false starts initiated by railfans that this is how they gauge how serious a proposal is now.   Additionally, I believe they require that you be at such and such place in the process of attempting to add a new passenger train beyond just very conceptual talk at the beginning though they are not as picky about that as they are about getting paid for their staff time up front before the meeting.

If you issue a press release about future rail passenger service prior to talking to them they will issue a counter press release that nobody has discussed the proposal with them yet to rain on the parade or effort so to speak.

They also expect you to pay for inspection trains over the rail line segments if one is requested or desired.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy