Get Involved Rail in MN



High-Speed Rail Across Minnesota, the U.S. and the World

Minnesota Statewide Rail Plan

MnDOT is updating the five-year Minnesota Statewide Rail Plan. The plan will identify priority rail corridors, programs, and projects that offer effective improvements or expansion for passenger and freight travel in and out of Minnesota. MnDOT hosted a series of open houses in various locations throughout the state in October and November to gain public input. The updated Plan will address new trends, continue to promote safety, investigate funding methods, and includes an updated priorities and projects list. The open houses, held in Northfield/Albert Lea, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Red Wing, Mankato, Duluth, Winona, Willmar and Eau Claire, WI, were designed to educate attendees on the Statewide Rail Plan, receive feedback on rail improvement needs, freight and passenger service, and related topics. To see the presentation visit:

"The possibility of expanded passenger rail service will benefit every community along the River Route, and I look forward to playing an expanded role in making it happen," Rettman said. "I would like to thank Mayor Spitzer and former Mayor of Winona Jerry Miller for their service as chairs and as a members of the commission."

Meanwhile in 2014, passenger rail projects from the Twin Cities to Duluth and from the Twin Cities to Rochester moved forward, and Union Depot began serving passenger rail passengers again.

Read more

Northern Lights Express

Minnesota transportation officials visited Superior, WI in December to explore the possibility of extending high-speed rail to the Twin Ports. The Northern Lights Express would run along existing BNSF railway track from the Twin Cities to Hinckley, Minnesota, at which point it would cross the border into Wisconsin and stop in Superior and Duluth. MnDOT is proposing two possible locations for a station in Superior. The Northern Lights Express could carry more than a million riders per year along 155 miles of existing BNSF track. Estimated construction costs are up to $1 billion.

Read more about the project

ZIP Rail

As the Rochester-Twin Cities Passenger Rail Corridor Project (Zip Rail) enters the Tier 1 EIS process, additional representation from along the identified corridors will be required. Members from the public have expressed interest in becoming involved in the project in an advisory capacity. The project Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will be expanded and a Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) will be formed to involve citizen representatives in the Zip Rail Tier 1 EIS process. The Final Scoping Decision Document for the Tier 1 EIS will be delayed to allow for development of additional project definition and description of those issues to be addressed in the Tier 1 EIS.

Read more about the project

Amtrak’s Empire Builder and the Union Depot

This year, National Train Day coincided with the launch of Amtrak’s Empire Builder at Union Depot in Saint Paul. Passengers had been boarding the train at the Midway Station in Saint Paul. The Empire Builder train travels between Chicago and Portland/Seattle. After extensive renovation, Union Depot reopened as a multi-modal transportation hub in 2012. The last passenger train left Union Depot in 1971, and in 1974, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. See Union Depot’s Facebook page for announcements of nearly daily events at the station.

High-Speed Rail across the US and the world

High-speed rail has proven to be the best form of transportation in country after country starting 50 years ago in Japan. It’s now in operation in more than 20 countries (including the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan). HSR is under construction in more than 10 countries (including China, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France, and Italy); and in development in another 14 countries (including Qatar, Morocco, Russia, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, India, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil).

Among many projects, high-speed rail projects moved forward in Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and California, among others.

New Hampshire’s Capital Corridor

Easily accessible passenger rail service will be available for more than 500,000 residents of Southern New Hampshire and will connect them with Boston. The rail line will serve as the backbone of a technology and communications corridor extending up New Hampshire’s Merrimack Valley, creating economic development and new, livable communities outside of Boston.

Learn more

High-Speed Rail Coming to Western Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is working on having a $73 million high-speed rail project up and running by early 2015.

Learn more

Illinois Investing in High-Speed Rail

The State of Illinois will spend $102 million to build a bridge over the Kankakee River along with other improvements as part of high-speed rail upgrades between Chicago and St. Louis. The Illinois Department of Transportation will oversee the work done by Union Pacific Railroad. The construction will take place in 2016 and 2017. The state has already invested $350 million in the project which is expected to create more than 900 construction jobs.

Learn more

California High-Speed Rail

In addition to providing a new high-capacity transportation system, the project will reduce congestion on highways and runways, spur statewide rail modernization, encourage transit-oriented development, revitalize American manufacturing, create new economic development and millions of jobs. By 2029, the system will run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours at speeds capable of over 200 miles per hour. The system will eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego, totaling 800 miles with up to 24 stations. In early January 2015, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) commemorated the start of sustained construction on the nation’s first high-speed rail system at a ceremonial groundbreaking in Fresno.

Learn more


Return to News Page

Join Us

Make Your Voice Heard, click here to:

Get Involved

Share Your Story -- Supporter Spotlights

Click for printable pdf Get Involved packet.

Sign up for the latest information on the TCMC Second Train Project.
Join Email List

Like the Great River Rail Commission on Facebook

Fact Sheet Downloads

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

Fact Sheet: About Minnesota High-Speed Rail

Frequently Asked Questions