The Madison-Milwaukee segment shown here is the first extension of a planned
high-speed rail corridor with multiple daily frequencies between Chicago and
the Twin Cities and between Chicago and Green Bay.  Passengers already can
connect in Chicago with conventional trains to 1,000 other rail destinations
in the U.S. and Canada, and will be able to do the same with planned
high-speed trains throughout the Midwest..

Questions we've been asked about the new service to and from Madison:

Q: How much will tickets cost between Madison and Milwaukee?

A: Ticket prices haven't been confirmed, and probably won't be until shortly before the new service starts around January 2013. However, based on information from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, tickets likely will cost about the same as between Chicago and Milwaukee, about $22 in March 2010.

Keep in mind that Amtrak offers a variety of discounts on its fares. Students holding Student Advantage cards, veterans holding Veterans Advantage cards, and seniors get 15% off. AAA and NARP members get 10% off, as do active duty military. Kids 2 through 15 years old ride half-price every day. Infants under 2 ride free. There also are special promotions from time to time.

Fares also vary by day, generally lower Monday-Thursday and Saturday, higher on Fridays and Sundays.

For business travelers, the IRS says: 'Deductible travel expenses while away from home include, but are not limited to, the costs of travel by airplane, train, bus, or car between your home and your business destination."

Q: I want to travel to Chicago. Will I have to change trains in Milwaukee?

A: No. You'll stay on your same train all the way to Chicago.

PHOTO: Passengers on the Madison-Chicago trains will pass the new Amtrak station in Sturtevant. (KenRail photo)

Q. I'm traveling beyond Chicago by train. Will I have to change stations in Chicago?

A: If your continuing trip is by Amtrak, no. All Amtrak trains use the same station. If you are taking other trains than Amtrak, you may or may not have to change stations, depending on your destination.

Q: Will I be able to travel to and from Chicago the same day by train?

A: Yes. There will be multiple roundtrips daily.

Q: Will I be able to connect with the Empire Builder by train from Madison?

A: That's unknown for now. We know of no plans to re-route Amtrak's Chicago-Seattle/Portland train, the Empire Builder, through Madison (a step which, if taken, would add more time to the train's current 46-hour trip between end points). We also don't know whether the current Empire Builder stop in Columbus will be moved to Watertown when that city is added as a stop on the Madison-Chicago route. If the move is made, that would offer the option of making connections there. Until then, Columbus remains the station stop, with no connecting bus service with Madison.

Q: You say those using the Madison station will have 1,000 places to go by train. How do you figure that?

A: Amtrak says its trains serve "more than" 500 destinations in the U.S., while Canada's Via Rail says it serves "over 450" destinations. Amtrak will be adding additional routes and stations between now and when the Madison service begins. The above Amtrak numbers don't include the 500 or so communities served by Amtrak Thruway connecting buses.

(We'll be adding other questions and answers in the weeks ahead.)

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