A new map released by Amtrak Wednesday shows the potential growth of rail service across the country over the next 15 years, including a hub in Madison.
Amtrak’s 2035 vision includes plans for new routes with stops in Madison and fellow Wisconsin cities Eau Claire and Green Bay, according to the new map.
The company also plans to improve a number of existing routes, including several from Chicago.
The map is “the beginning of a very long conversation, but it’s very hopeful,” said Marc Magliari, a spokesperson for Amtrak Government Affairs and Corporate Communications.
“This is an aspirational map, not prescriptive,” he said. “There are other ideas that others will have.”
Unlike a past attempt to get a train stop in Madison with a line from Madison to Milwaukee, the new map proposes a station in Madison that would service more than the one direction. In addition to Milwaukee, the route would lead to Eau Claire, Green Bay and the Twin Cities.
Magliari said another difference between the new proposal and the one for which then-Gov. Jim Doyle pushed to get federal funding in 2010 before it was shut down by his successor, Scott Walker, is Amtrak’s potential plan for a federal partnership that would make it easier on Wisconsin and other states by providing funds for both capital expenses and operational costs to begin service. The 2010 proposal did not include federal funding for the first few years of the railroad service’s operational costs.
“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,” Magliari said.
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