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HSR Commission celebrates National Train Day in Winona

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission May 12, 2013

May 12, 2013 (Winona, Minn.) - Amtrak riders, train fans and local officials celebrated National Train Day Saturday, May 11 at events held at Winona's historic train depot. Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission Chairman Bill Spitzer helped provide donuts to Amtrak passengers and spoke to a crowd packed into the depot during an afternoon open house.

"It was a great sight to see the Winona Depot full on National Train Day," remarked Spitzer, the mayor of St. Charles, Minn. "Just image if we had a second train that could take passengers to the Twin Cities and back on the same day!" The long-term primary mission of the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission is to advocate for up to eight daily round-trip high-speed rail trains between the Twin Cities and Chicago. The commission is also leading the push to implement a second daily round-trip Amtrak train along the route as soon as possible. A study to determine the feasibility of adding the service continues; results are expected this fall after further work is completed.

Nearly 60 people arrived, departed or visited the depot during the morning event with visitors treated to dozens of donuts from hometown favorite Bloedow's Bakery. An additional 40 guests gathered in the afternoon during an open house for presentations on the high-speed rail project and the recent designation of the Winona Depot on the National Register of Historic buildings. Later approximately 30 passengers arriving and departing on the evening Amtrak train were greeted to soft drinks and cookies.

"I think our 'first annual' event was a success," said event organizer Erik Brom of the Winona Railroad Club. "We are already planning to enhance the activities for next year."

Spitzer asked passengers why they took the train. "People came up with many answers: 'It's relaxing,' 'I love to enjoy the passing scenery,' 'It's an economical way to travel.' He added, "A grandmother explained her tradition of taking each of her grandchildren on that 'special train ride when they reached a certain age.'"

The event also featured hats and coloring books for kids and a welcome from Winona Mayor Mark Peterson.

About the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission is one of the leading authoritative voices on high-speed rail in Minnesota. Comprised of elected officials from 16 local governments, the commission advocates for the development of Minnesota's first high-speed rail line within the federally designated high-speed rail corridor that connects the Twin Cities to Milwaukee and Chicago. The commission is a strong proponent of bringing high-speed rail to the Midwest through the scenic upper Mississippi River valley.

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