Get Involved Rail in MN



The Mississippi River basin has been a transportation corridor since humans first pushed off from its muddy banks into its strong current hundreds of years ago. Then, the Iron Horse updated the valley's transportation method as it wound along the mighty Mississippi's banks through the oak and black walnut covered bluffs and coulees in the 1800s.

Now, the Great River Rail Commission seeks to redefine a 126-mile portion of this traditional transportation corridor with first, an additional round-trip passenger train each day. But in the future, the Commission envisions faster, more frequent service. Imagine the attractiveness of trains reaching speeds of 110 miles per hour. Trains that are the picture of modern comfort, reliability and technological innovation. This sleek, speedy conveyance, traveling from a revitalized Union Depot in Saint Paul through picturesque river towns, would cut into Wisconsin at La Crescent on its way to Milwaukee and Chicago and provide passengers with a fast, reliable, safe alternative to highway and air travel.

Major public projects require careful study to ensure the most cost-effective approaches are taken to not only accomplish a goal, but to do so with minimal impact on the environment and the residents who live nearby. With broad evaluation of costs and benefits on a Midwest Regional Rail System completed, a Comprehensive Statewide Passenger & Freight Rail Plan completed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the selection of the Mississippi River Route by MnDOT and the Federal Railroad Administration as the preferred line for the proposed high-speed rail system, the Commission has placed the corridor in position for additional study and eventual implementation.

The process is complicated. Fortunately, the Great River Rail Commission has a strong foundation in place, a network of informed and energetic elected officials representing 17 governmental agencies. This group is serious about sharing information about the proposal in an educational campaign to raise awareness, engage communities and proactively communicate toward successful advocacy of the River Route.

The Commission desires to move from a conceptual vision of a transportation alternative described with charts, graphs and numbers to building support for a reality that showcases the advantages of modern high-speed rail travel through southeastern Minnesota's Mississippi River valley, a natural jewel, and among the most beautiful locations in America.


Fast Trains from the Twin Cities to Chicago

Imagine a safe, convenient, comfortable, productive trip from the Twin Cities to Chicago. One where you avoid traffic jams and road construction. One where you avoid long security lines and tarmac delays. One where you are free to get up and move about the cabin anytime you would like. Read, work, visit with family and friends. Regular, daily, high-speed trains, a competitive transportation alternative, could carry as many as 1.7 million trips. Will you climb aboard?

Travel Demand is High

More than a million people travel annually between Chicago and the Twin Cities by air; more than 10 million by car. Those numbers are growing, and it's no wonder. Minnesota is home to 20 Fortune 500 companies, and the number of jobs in the Twin Cities metropolitan area is expected to grow by 34 percent by 2040.

Benefits are Great

High-speed rail is a safe, competitive transportation alternative. It saves money and the environment by increasing freight and passenger rail capacity, avoiding more expensive to operate cars and trucks while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And it grows Minnesota's economy. High-speed rail could lead to $2.3 billion in economic benefits and 1,600 permanent jobs in Minnesota in addition to the 15,000 construction jobs needed to complete the project.


Fast, Frequent Trains

The Great River Rail Commission seeks first to add an additional round-trip passenger train each day between the Twin Cities and Chicago. But in the future, the Commission envisions faster, more frequent service.

The study of high-speed rail service in the corridor took place earlier this decade, and is currently on hold. More information on what the future of passenger rail service in the River Route is below.

High-Speed Rail in the River Route - Facts

Frequently Asked Questions

Fast Train Facts

• Connects the Twin Cities, Wisconsin Dells, Milwaukee and Chicago

• Follows the Mississippi River between the Twin Cities and La Crescent

• Stations in the Twin Cities, Red Wing, Winona

• Connections available at each station, for instance city buses, Jefferson Lines buses and light-rail at Union Depot, St. Paul

• Speeds of 90 - 110 miles per hour

• 5.5 hour travel time (2.5 hour reduction)

• 6 - 8 daily round trips

• Projected 1.7 million trips annually by 2030

• Costs less to build than a lane of highway in each direction

Fact Sheet Downloads

Have more questions about MN High-Speed Rail? Check out these helpful fact sheets to learn more.

2019 Fact Packet: TCMC Second Train

Frequently Asked Questions