First 'Hiawatha' trains to return June 1

News Wire Digest for May 25: Florida county seeks U.S. Supreme Court hearing in Brightline fight; Amtrak buys Delaware office building
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A southbound Amtrak Hiawatha approaches Metra's Western Avenue station in August 2019. Hiawatha rail service, replaced by buses since April 24, will resume June 1.
TRAINS: David Lassen
Memorial Day rail news in brief:

Hiawatha rail service resumes June 1; more trains to be added June 29
One Amtrak Hiawatha round trip will return Monday, June 1, restoring the rail service replaced by Amtrak Thruway buses as of April 24. The Hiawatha website indicates three more round trips added as of June 29. Resuming operation on June 1 will be train No. 332, the 8:05 a.m. departure from Milwaukee, and train No. 339, the 5:08 departure from Chicago. Reservations are required. The Empire Builder will also continue to serve the Hiawatha’s stops. Returning on June 29 will be southbound trains 330 (Monday-Friday only), 338, and 342, along with northbound trains 329 (Monday-Friday only, 331, 337, and 339). Schedules for those trains are available here. As of the 29th, the Empire Builder will no longer honor Hiawatha tickets or make its additional stops at the Hiawatha stations at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport or in Sturtevant, Wis.

Florida county asks U.S. Supreme Court to hear Brightline case
Indian River County, Florida, is taking its legal effort to stop Virgin Trains USA’s expansion to Orlando to the U.S. Supreme Court. The TCPalm newspaper reports that the county has asked the Supreme Court to review its claim that Virgin Trains/Brightline should not be eligible for $2.7 billion of tax-exempt private activity bonds, used in part to finance construction of the route to Orlando. In doing so, it has framed the case as part of a debate about whether a federal agency can interpret the law, and whether courts should defer to that interpretation, and says the issue is “critical to the separation of powers” between agencies and the courts. The county agreed earlier this year to use $200,000 to make one last appeal of its long-running lawsuit, after a December 2019 ruling upheld the decision allowing Virgin Trains to use the bonds [see “Appeals court affirms Virgin Trains’ right to use private activity bonds,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 31, 2019.]

Amtrak buys Wilmington, Del., office building
Amtrak has bought an eight-story office building in Wilmington, Del., which will become the home of 200 employees, the Wilmington News Journal reports. The purchase price for the building, the Renaissance Centre, was not disclosed. Other tenants include the Delaware Supreme Court and Delaware State Bar Association. Amtrak spokeswoman Beth Toll said the purchase is “part of Amtrak’s long-term strategy to reduce costs by having employees work out of owned property.”


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