Train Basics ABCs Of Railroading Amtrak Hiawatha service highlights

Amtrak Hiawatha service highlights

By David Popp | August 22, 2022

The Milwaukee to Chicago Hiawatha offers intercity passenger an express train service

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Amtrak Hiawatha service highlights

Amtrak locomotive at passenger station
Hiawatha train. David Popp photograph

Amtrak runs daily trains called the Hiawatha Service between Milwaukee and Chicago. This service provides easy access for those living in Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois to the downtown centers of both cities. There are six daily trains in both directions, an additional train at peak morning commute times during weekdays, and a late-night train on Friday evenings.

Hiawatha trains provide express service, making just three additional stops along the Milwaukee to Chicago route. These include Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport; Sturtevant, WI; and Glenview, IL. A complete trip in either direction lasts approximately 90 minutes.

Recently, my wife and I needed to go to downtown Chicago, so we booked a trip on train 334, picking it up at Sturtevant, Wisconsin, which is just 20 minutes from our home.

You can book tickets easily on A non-refundable value ticket between Milwaukee and Chicago is $25 one way. You also have the option to purchase a flexible ticket for $35 that can be exchanged or refunded before the departure date and time.

Hand holding phone showing e-ticket.
Digital ticket on a smartphone. David Popp photograph

Your ticket is sent to you electronically, and you can either print it or have the conductor scan the QR code straight from your phone’s screen. Downloading the Amtrak app makes it easy to buy and use Amtrak tickets this way.

Large overhead baggage bin on train
Overhead bin on an Amtrak Hiawatha service passenger car. David Popp photograph

Ticketed passengers may bring up to two bags with them – smaller bags can go in the spacious overhead bin above the seats. Larger bags need to be placed in the rack by the entrance to the car. Hiawatha Service can also accommodate travelers with pets and bicycles. See for more info on these options.

Brick train station in Sturtevant Wisconsin.
Station stop. David Popp photograph

On the day or our trip, we arrived at the depot in Sturtevant 10 minutes before train time. The modern depot features a clean indoor waiting room with restrooms. There is also an overnight parking lot.

Metal and brick bridge over two railroad tracks.
Track bridge. David Popp photograph

Sturtevant has both north and southbound platforms, joined by an overhead bridge featuring elevators and stairs for easy access to both tracks. Station announcements alert passengers which platform will be used by the approaching train, as the two tracks are also shared with freight traffic.

Amtrak passenger train arriving at station
Arriving train. David Popp photograph

Our train arrived on-time and consisted of three coaches and one café car, although there is currently no food service offered on Hiawatha trains. Seating is on a first-come basis, and my wife and I had to search around a bit to find two seats together – in this case across the aisle from each other.

 Interior of passenger car with passengers riding train.
Quiet car. David Popp photograph

The seats are arranged in paired configurations, although they recline individually.

View of space for legs between two seats.
Leg room on a Hiawatha service train. David Popp photograph

There is adequate leg room, and seats are comfortable – much better than the average airline seat. Passengers have access to a tray table that folds up into the back of the seat in front of them, and it is large enough to accommodate a laptop computer. There is also a standard 110V power outlet located along the wall under the window for each pair of seats.

Blue and white sign that reads “Quiet Car”
Quiet Car sign. David Popp photograph

Hiawatha trains include a quiet car, which is a coach for passengers wishing to sleep, read, listen to music with headphones, or work without the interference of other passengers in conversation or on cell phones. Since my wife and I both enjoy reading books, the quiet car was a welcomed feature.

Amtrak locomotive and train at underground station platform.
At Chicago Union Station. David Popp photograph

The trip from Sturtevant to Chicago Union Station was exactly an hour, which is twice as fast as we could’ve driven into downtown Chicago from our home. The service was clean, fast, and our conductor was friendly and helpful.

Overhead view of a passenger train arriving at an outdoor station
Overhead view of a Hiawatha service train. David Popp photograph

These trains are often sold to capacity; if you’re planning a trip into downtown Milwaukee or Chicago, be sure to book in advance so you don’t miss out. Hiawatha Service is an affordable travel option to the heart of both cities and eliminates the hassles of driving and parking.



One thought on “Amtrak Hiawatha service highlights

  1. David, I trust this story and the one on the Empire Builder are the start of a new series. Good, factual reporting of travel by train in the USA. Nothing is perfect, service can vary, (beeb to a airport lately?) but the base service is vital and necessary. Your reporting gives future riders an idea of what to expect. I for one am grateful and would like to try that service next year when my wife and i are in that part of the country. Thanks for the good article and look forward to more.

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