Amtrak's Hiawatha line out of Milwaukee is becoming so popular Randy Wade with the DOT says there's a plan to expand high-speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison.

Wade says the plan is fairly far along. A number of the engineering and environmental studies have already been done and approved. The expansion would include 6 round trips between the two cities.

Trains would travel up to 110 mph in some locations making a trip from Madison to Chicago with a stop in Milwaukee just about two and a half hours. Wade says that compares favorably with a car trip without the traffic and the hassle.

It's just a matter of Congress allocating the money. Wade says federal funds would provide the capital for improved track, equipment and signals. Congress hasn't been quick to jump on the Amtrak line in the past but DOT officials are cautiously optimistic saying the time is now.

Wade says the state is doing its part to show it's serious. Governor Doyle included money in his budget for an additional car on the crowded Hiawatha line and increased the borrowing limits for the expansion.


AUDIO: Jim Dick reports ( 1:06 MP3 )

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