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Amtrak Feasibility Study of Additional Service Between St. Paul And Chicago Shows Promise

– Minnesota High-Speed Rail – July 10, 2015

A second daily round trip Amtrak passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago is feasible, would improve reliability and increase opportunity for passengers according to a feasibility study by Wisconsin, Minnesota and Amtrak.

Amtrak currently operates the Empire Builder train between the two metropolitan areas as part of the long-distance service from Chicago to Seattle and Portland. The study concluded that the route between Saint Paul and Chicago is the most feasible for initial service with potential extensions to Minneapolis and St. Cloud. Annual ridership on the additional daily train, with a morning departure from Chicago and a mid-day departure from St. Paul, is estimated at about 155,000 passengers. This is an increase over the current Empire Builder ridership of approximately 104,000 between St. Paul and Chicago.

The study includes an assessment of schedules, ridership, revenue, infrastructure investments, operating costs, and equipment needs associated with the expanded service.

Statement from the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission is very excited to have confirmation of what we’ve known all along: additional passenger rail service between the Twin Cities and Chicago makes sense.

Amtrak’s study, in cooperation with the transportation departments in Minnesota and Wisconsin, shows that adding a second daily round-trip train is feasible. We believe that a second train offers a needed transportation alternative for travelers. And we believe that the necessary capacity improvements to the rail lines will improve the safe movement of freight through our communities, create jobs and grow our economy.

The demand is there. The benefits are clear. We now urge the Minnesota Legislature to provide a share of the funding required to complete the next steps toward making a second train a reality.

- Janice Rettman, chair of the MNHSR commission

MnDOT News Release

Amtrak Feasibility Report

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