International Railway Journal - August 18, 2020

Amtrak has confirmed that the return to daily services along its routes will be determined by three metrics, with assessments according to these benchmarks scheduled to begin from February 15 2021:

  • Public Health – Covid-19-related hospitalisation rates in areas served by the long-distance trains must appear stable or declining

  • Future Demand – the number of available seat and room-miles booked in February for operating services in June 2021 must be comparable with at least 90% of tickets booked for those services in June 2020, taking account of the currently reduced timetable, and

  • Current Performance – projected network ridership for autumn 2021 must be at least 90% of figures estimated in Amtrak’s 2021 financial year operating plan.

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Great River Rail - July 9, 2020

July 9, 2020 (Red Wing, Minn.) – Project partners submitted a federal grant request for capital funding for the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Second Train project to the Federal Railroad Administration in June. A number of project updates were a part of the submission, as outlined in the attached progress report. The highlights include:

  • Total project cost estimate was revised down to $53 million, just below the low end of the cost range of previous estimates

  • Wisconsin has committed $6.2 million and Amtrak has pledged $5 million as matching funds toward a federal grant to build track and signal improvements

  • The current funding request of $10 million from the Minnesota Legislature would result in $40 million in infrastructure improvements in the state, a 4 to 1 return on investment

  • Canadian Pacific Railway, on whose tracks the train would run, supports the TCMC Second Train

  • A federal grant for startup operations in the amount of $12.569 million was awarded to the TCMC Second Train project on May 5, 2020

About the Great River Rail Commission

The Great River Rail Commission is one of the leading voices on passenger rail in Minnesota. Comprised of officials from 18 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.

Amtrak to cut back Empire Builder, other routes because of coronavirus slowdown

Pioneer Press - June 17

The Great River Rail Commission advocates for the implementation of the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago (TCMC) Second Train project. The Second Train would complement current Amtrak Empire Builder service. We are very disappointed to learn that Amtrak plans to reduce Empire Builder service to 3 trips weekly. Before the pandemic, this train was very successful. This reduction will take away Minnesotans' opportunity for a safe, comfortable transportation alternative - an alternative that serves stations in towns that don't have bus or air service. We urge Amtrak to retain daily Empire Builder service.

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