Amtrak photo

APPLETON — Local leaders continued their push to add an Amtrak route to northeast Wisconsin at the recent  Wisconsin Association of Railroad Passengers (WisARP) meeting in Appleton.

The association’s meeting focused on Amtrak’s desire to bring passenger rail between Green Bay and Milwaukee with stops in Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, and Appleton.

“Right now it’s really about saying we’re interested in this conversation,” Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford was quoted as saying in a report on Fox 11.

Amtrak hopes to grow its rail service in the United States over the next 15 years, including a proposed route from Green Bay to Chicago with a stop in Appleton.

Up through at least the 1960s, residents could take the train from Kaukauna to Milwaukee and beyond from the depot on Draper Street, but service was discontinued decades ago.

Amtrak’s vision for expansion that will connect up to 160 communities throughout the United States by building new or improved rail corridors in over 25 states over the next decade and a half.

The Green Bay — Milwaukee — Chicago corridor would connect important metropolitan areas in the Midwest with a variety of business and educational opportunities. The corridor is currently served by Amtrak’s long-distance Empire Builder service, operating between Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, OR.  

The new route would add Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac on the way to Milwaukee.

According to Amtrak, Green Bay added 10,493 jobs since 2000. The city is home to a variety of business headquarters including Bellin Health, Aurora Health Care, Georgia-Pacific, American Foods Group, JBS Green Bay, Wisconsin Public Service, Schreiber Foods, Inc., Proctor & Gamble, Alorica and Nature’s Way.

The National Railroad Museum, Bay Beach Amusement Park, Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and the Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field all attract visitors to the city.  

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Milwaukee added 40,000 jobs to their economy since 2000 and is home to 14 Fortune 1,000 corporations, more than most other metropolitan areas its size. Harley-Davidson, Northwestern Mutual, and Roundy’s Supermarkets are just some of the companies located in the city. The Milwaukee Art Museum, Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee County Zoo and Potawatomi Hotel and Casino each draw visitors to the area.  

Chicago is one of the largest cultural, recreational and business destinations in the Midwest. Attractions such as the Field Museum, The Art Institute, Museum of Science and Industry, Soldier Field, Wrigley Field and Lake Michigan’s beaches attracted a record-breaking 57.6 million visitors in 2018. The city is home to Boeing, Archer Daniels Midland, Exelon, Conagra Brands, Motorola Solutions and more.

These new rail connections between larger metro areas and smaller cities will improve mobility for underserved communities and provide reliable and efficient transportation to education and employment opportunities along the route. 

Proposed Stations

  • Chicago, IL 
  • Glenview, IL 
  • Sturtevant, WI 
  • Milwaukee Airport, WI 
  • Milwaukee, WI 
  • Fond Du Lac, WI (NEW) 
  • Oshkosh, WI (NEW) 
  • Appleton, WI (NEW) 
  • Green Bay, WI (NEW) 



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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.