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News Release

No Funds for Second Train.


Great River Rail Commission


May 29, 2019 (Red Wing, Minn.) - The Minnesota Legislature adjourned Saturday without approving funding for passenger rail improvements in Minnesota. No funds were allocated for further planning on a proposed second train between the Twin Cities and Chicago.

The Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago (TCMC) Second Train is projected to serve 155,000 riders annually in addition to the 120,000 trips already taken on the Amtrak Empire Builder service. The Great River Rail Commission, made up of cities and counties in southeastern Minnesota, advocated for $4 million this year to complete environmental work and service planning, and to provide seed money for final design costs. While the Governor and legislative leadership agreed to a $500 million budget for a public works and infrastructure bill, none was approved.

"We're disappointed, but we are taking away some positives from the legislative session," said Mark Vaughan, chair of the Great River Rail Commission. "We had support from the Governor, a number of legislators and from people, businesses and governments all along the River Route."

Governor Walz included funding for the service in his budget and bills were authored by Senator Jeremy Miller and Representative Alice Hausman. Letters of support appeared in newspapers, and passenger rail supporters actively contacted legislators including at an event at the state capitol hosted by All Aboard Minnesota, a passenger rail advocacy organization.

"I want to thank everyone that reached out to their legislators or showed their support in other ways," Vaughan said. "The Commission had greater access to legislators, developed a good working relationship with All Aboard Minnesota, and generated more support for the Second Train in communities up and down the River Route."

"We believe in this project," Vaughan said. "We will build on our accomplishments this year and continue to seek state funds to match federal funding. This is important to people and businesses along the River Route, as well as for the entire state."

About the Commission

The Great River Rail Commission is one of the leading voices on passenger rail in Minnesota. Comprised of officials from 17 local and regional governments from St. Paul to La Crosse, the Commission advocates for the development of the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago (TCMC) Second Train project, a daily round trip passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago. The Commission's long range vision is that the Second Train demonstrates demand for additional passenger rail service that leads to further investment in faster, more frequent passenger train service.

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