Amtrak’s Midwestern Service Got More User-Friendly This Summer

Upgrades include easier transfers, students discounts, and bike- and pet-friendly service

Amtrak's 2018 midwestern network.
Amtrak's 2018 midwestern network.

Today Amtrak and state sponsors of the railroad’s midwest network touted service improvements made this summer on local routes, including easier connections, student discounts, and more bike- and pet-friendly service. Since Chicago is the hub for midwestern routes, these upgrades are obviously good news for Chicagoans.

To ease connections and shorten layovers, schedules are now adjusted on Amtrak trains to and from Michigan, Wisconsin, downstate Illinois and Missouri. For example, Amtrak now offers service between Milwaukee and Detroit twice daily, and Milwaukee and St. Louis three times a day. The two legs of each trip are coordinated so that there’s only a short layover between trains at Chicago’s Union Station.

The service improvements are partly funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin DOTs. Trains used in these states are mostly powered by new, low-emissions locomotives with diesel engines manufactured in the midwest.

This summer the railroad rolled out a 15 percent discount on Midwestern routes for students ages 13-25. Tickets must be purchased online.

In July Amtrak launched new roll-on bike service on the Wolverine route between Chicago and Detroit, and similar service is planned on the Hoosier State route between Chicago and Indianapolis, sponsored by the Indiana DOT.

And last month the entire Midwest network became pet-friendly, with the addition of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor. Dogs and cats of up to 20 pounds are accepted for a $25 surcharge. The animals must travel in a carrier under the passenger’s seat.

The Amtrak Midwest Network carried over 3 million passengers in the 12 months ending last September, an increase of more than four percent from the previous year. State-sponsored services are the fastest growing Amtrak business sector, according to the railroad.

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