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Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station

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Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station 20 airtransportation.svg
Milwaukee Airport Rail Station.jpg
Location5601 South 6th Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Coordinates42°56′26″N 87°55′29″W / 42.94056°N 87.92472°W / 42.94056; -87.92472Coordinates: 42°56′26″N 87°55′29″W / 42.94056°N 87.92472°W / 42.94056; -87.92472
Owned byWisconsin Department of Transportation
Line(s)Canadian Pacific Railroad C&M Subdivision
Platforms1 side platform
ConnectionsShuttle bus to air terminal
ParkingYes; paid
Disabled accessYes
Other information
Station codeMKA
OpenedJanuary 18, 2005
Passengers (2018)180,314[1]Increase 9.91%
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
Hiawatha Service Sturtevant
toward Chicago
     Empire Builder does not stop here

The Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station is an Amtrak railway station which opened for service on January 18, 2005. It is located at 5601 South 6th Street, just south of Wisconsin Highway 119, near the western edge of Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. The facility accommodates travelers who use the Hiawatha Service between Chicago and the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, and sees fourteen daily arrivals, seven each from Milwaukee Intermodal Station and Chicago. There is a shuttle from the station to the airport terminal.

Service and facilities[edit]

Station interior

The Milwaukee Airport Rail Station's primary functions are to serve as an airport rail link for Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport and to serve as an alternate to the downtown Milwaukee station for residents of the southern portions of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. The station is served only by the Amtrak Hiawatha Service, and sees fourteen daily arrivals, seven each from Milwaukee Intermodal Station and Chicago Union Station.[2] The station is the first stop en route to Chicago, with a travel time along the 8-mile (13-kilometer) section taking 10 minutes.[2] It is also the third stop en route to downtown Milwaukee, with a travel time along the 78-mile (126-kilometer) section taking one hour and 14 minutes.[2] In 2017 the station handled 164,054 passengers.[3]

The 1,600-square-foot (150 m2) station includes a Quik-Trak ticket vending machine, restrooms, a seating area and covered walkways to both the drive-up area and the boarding platform.[4][5] As the station is unstaffed, all tickets from the station need to be pre-paid, purchased from Quik-Trak or on the train from a conductor. Passengers needing checked baggage service are advised to use the downtown station.[6] The station parking lot contains 300 spaces and costs $2 for each two hour period, up to $7 per day, per vehicle.[7] All revenue generated from parking fees is used to finance the station's operating costs.[6] Transport to and from the airport terminal is provided by the free shuttle buses operated by the airport.[6]

For much of the spring of 2020, it was temporarily a stop on the Empire Builder, a long-distance train connecting Chicago to the Pacific Northwest. The stop was added when the Hiawatha Service was suspended in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The idea of opening an Amtrak station in the vicinity of Mitchell Airport had been discussed since the mid-1970s.[8] The justification for not building the station at the time was based on infrequent Amtrak service and relatively congestion-free access to the airport from the south via I-94 and WI 119.[8] By the late 1990s, a station at the airport was proposed as part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative.[9] In June 2001, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation authorized $100,000 to start the preliminary design for the station, with an original opening slated for late-2003.[10] Although funding was authorized for preliminary work, funding for actual construction had not been secured.

How to fund construction of the station became an issue following objections from both airport and Milwaukee County officials.[11] Although supported by both airport and local officials, they stated that financing a facility to transport persons primarily away from Milwaukee should not be done with local, but rather state and federal sources.[11] As a result of this sentiment, Senator Herb Kohl requested $5 million for its construction as part of a federal transportation appropriations bill in July,[12] only to see it reduced to $2.5 million in the final bill in December.[13] With an additional $4 million in funding secured by Kohl in February 2003,[14] combined with the $2.5 million previously appropriated, construction of the $6.5 million station could commence.[15]

Groundbreaking for the facility occurred on June 28, 2004.[16] Present at the ceremony was Governor Jim Doyle, Herb Kohl and state Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi. Included in the $6.8 million budget were funds for the construction of the station and track improvements to reduce delays between Milwaukee and Chicago.[16] State and local economic development officials saw its construction as an opportunity for travelers from the Chicago metropolitan area to use the station as a rail link to reach Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport as an alternative for both Chicago's Midway and O'Hare airports.[15][16][17] The station opened for service on January 18, 2005, as a regular stop along Amtrak's Hiawatha Service.[18] At the time of its opening, this became only the fourth Amtrak station to have direct service to an airport, after Baltimore, Newark and Burbank.[18] In January 2006, the station was awarded an Urban Design Award from Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett for its design as a "Prairie-style transportation symbol."[19]

In 2009, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation proposed adding 400 feet (120 m) to the southern end of the existing 400-foot (120 m) platform.[20] The station was designed for trains carrying only four coach cars; however, service has since been expanded to five cars with a sixth being proposed for the future. A six-car train is nearly 700 feet (210 m) long, thus the need for additional platform space. This work was completed in 2012, creating a platform length of 800 feet (240 m).[20]


  1. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2018, State of Wisconsin" (PDF). Amtrak. June 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Amtrak (October 26, 2009), Hiawatha Service Timetable: Milwaukee - Chicago (PDF), Amtrak
  3. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2017, State of Wisconsin" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station". Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on September 12, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  5. ^ "Milwaukee - General Mitchell International Airport, WI (MKA)". Amtrak. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Sandler, Larry (January 14, 2005). "Amtrak on track to open at airport; Officials expect to lure O'Hare traffic". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 1B.
  7. ^ "Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station". Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Sandler, Larry (March 10, 1996). "Norquist, Daley considering Mitchell-O'Hare train". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3A.
  9. ^ Sandler, Larry (October 21, 2000). "Thompson tours site of possible rail station". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
  10. ^ Sandler, Larry (June 12, 2001). "Amtrak station at Mitchell advances". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 1A.
  11. ^ a b Sandler, Larry (June 13, 2001). "Funding for Amtrak stop up in air; County, airlines not interested in footing bill for airport station". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
  12. ^ Sandler, Larry (July 13, 2001). "U.S. Senate panel backs Hoan funds; Bill would cover repairs, fund airport Amtrak, Kohl says". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
  13. ^ Sandler, Larry (December 4, 2001). "U.S. aid for Hoan repair advances; Congressional panel sets aside $7.5 million". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
  14. ^ Sandler, Larry (February 25, 2003). "State, federal budgets would keep railway passengers on track". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
  15. ^ a b Sandler, Larry (May 18, 2003). "DOT officials consider train service to Mitchell". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
  16. ^ a b c Sandler, Larry (June 29, 2004). "Amtrak breaks ground for airport station". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 1D.
  17. ^ Sandler, Larry (August 15, 2004). "Mitchell touted as alternative to O'Hare". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 2B.
  18. ^ a b Sandler, Larry (January 19, 2005). "Amtrak launches airport link". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
  19. ^ Gould, Whitney (January 6, 2006). "Milwaukee honors design, preservation". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
  20. ^ a b Wisconsin Department of Transportation (August 2009), Milwaukee Airport Rail Station Platform Extension Grant, Application Number: HSR2010000142 (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on May 28, 2010, retrieved January 4, 2010

External links[edit]