April 11th, 2000
April 30, 1971 was the last time the City of Janesville, WI seen passenger rail service. A train called the Varsity, which departed at 8:30 p.m. 29 years ago, served the once active Midwest rail hub.
Amtrak has brought back passenger train service to Janesville. Starting Saturday, April 15th, the "Lake Country Limited" will depart Janesville Monday through Friday at 6 a.m. and will be scheduled to arrive in Glenview, Ill., at 8:50 a.m. and in Chicago at 9:20 a.m.
The train will depart Janesville on weekends and holidays at 6:15 a.m., arrive in Glenview at 8:35 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 9:05 a.m.
For the return trip to Janesville, the northbound Lake Country Limited will depart Chicago at 8:15 p.m. seven days a week and will arrive in Glenview at 8:39 p.m. and in Janesville at 11:05 p.m.
Gov. Tommy Thompson announced Tuesday morning that Amtrak will begin providing one round-trip daily train to carry passengers between Janesville and downtown Chicago.
Cost of a one-way ticket will be $22. Customers can call 1-800-USA-RAIL to make a reservation. The planned Janesville station would be on the city's far east side near the intersection of South Wright Road (County J) and East Delavan Drive (County O). Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. has property and an unused rail siding there making this an ideal location.
Though Amtrak will be responsible for the service, the trains will run on track leased by Wisconsin & Southern Railroad; Metra, the Chicago commuter rail system; and I&M Rail Link.
The short-line railroad already has begun improving the track and plans to install lighting, a public telephone and a shelter, David Mumma, Janesville transit director, wrote in a memo. A parking lot and station platform also would have to be built.
Wisconsin & Southern is doing the work at its own expense, Mumma added.
The city is concerned because the train is not scheduled to stop downtown and Janesville residents will need transportation to get to the train stop. He said he was told that Amtrak wants to avoid the 20 extra minutes it would take to have the train arrive in or depart from downtown Janesville because of grade crossings, pedestrians and congestion.
Amtrak also is considering adding a stop in Walworth, pending upgrades to the station there, according to the governor's announcement.
"Wisconsin is at the center of Amtrak's aggressive growth plans," said Thompson, who also is chairman of the Amtrak board of directors. "This new service provides nationwide access by rail not only for passengers in the Janesville area but for the entire business community in southern Wisconsin."
Besides passengers, the train also will carry mail and express freight between Janesville and Chicago. Freight has been considered the crucial component of renewed passenger service because Amtrak can haul freight only with its passenger trains.
The new service is the first route to be introduced by Amtrak as part of its network growth strategy announced earlier this year by Thompson.
Thanks to the Janesville Gazette for providing this information.
Southern Wisconsin Railcar Group.