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January 31, 2023 (Red Wing, Minn.) – Governor Walz has included the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Rail Corridor (TCMC) Second Train in his 2024-2025 biennial budget recommendations.

The Governor’s budget increases Minnesota’s contribution to match a federal grant for track and signal improvements in Winona and La Crescent, as well as Minnesota’s estimated share to match another federal grant for startup operating costs.

Great River Rail Board Chair Trista MatasCastillo is pleased with the inclusion of the TCMC in the budget noting it shows confidence in the project to partners in neighboring states, as well as stakeholders in Minnesota. “We appreciate the years-long commitment in this budget proposal. It provides the level of financial stability and commitment this project needs at this time, and we look forward to what the future holds for the TCMC and the state of Minnesota,” said MatasCastillo.

The Governor recommends:

  • $940,000 in FY24 and $980,000 in FY25 for capital improvements on the corridor due to inflation pressures

  • $893,200 in FY24 and $2.258 million in FY25 to cover the matching costs of a federal grant, which defrays initial operating costs of the TCMC passenger rail line for the first three years of service

  • $122,000 in FY24 and FY25 for staffing for project management and grant administration

  • $4.876 million beginning in FY26 to support Minnesota’s portion of the operating cost

Supporters of the TCMC are encouraged to sign up for the Great River Rail newsletter at to stay abreast of opportunities to advocate for the Second Train this legislative session and learn about other advocacy and educational opportunities for the Great River Rail.

About the Commission

The Great River Rail Commission is one of the leading voices on passenger rail in Minnesota. 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 which received capital funding for track and signal improvements from the Minnesota Legislature in 2021. The Commission’s long-range vision is that the Second Train demonstrates additional demand that leads to further investment in faster, more frequent passenger train service. More information is available at

Paul Drotos, former Goodhue County Commissioner, environmentalist, and committed TCMC Second Train advocate passed away on Thursday, August 4 following a battle with cancer.

Drotos has been remembered as a man who was compassionate about life, had a great sense of humor, embraced all that he did, and deeply cared about the environment. It was through this environmental lens that he saw his work on the Great River Rail Commission according to GRRC Chair, Trista MatasCastillo. “For him, passenger rail was really about meeting carbon goals and how do we reduce car miles and increase climate protections,” MatasCastillo said. “He brought that voice and that lens to the table all the way. He led with his heart.”

Drotos served on the Great River Rail Commission for six years and as vice chair since 2019. Since 2017, he and the commission advocated and successfully secured state capital funding in 2021 for the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago (TCMC) Second Train, a proposed daily round trip Amtrak train from St. Paul to Chicago with stops in Red Wing and Winona.

Drotos was a longtime resident of Red Wing, Minnesota and served on the Goodhue County

Board of Commissioners for six years. He was named chairman of the board in 2020. He

resigned from the board in July 2022 due to his illness. The Goodhue County Board of

Commissioners will appoint a new representative to the Great River Rail Commission. The

Commission will hold an election in September to name a new Vice-Chair.

You can read Paul’s full obituary here.

The general election is Tuesday, November 8. Please cast an informed vote. Many issues face Minnesotans, and while we recognize it's not the most important issue, we encourage you to ask candidates about their opinions on expanding passenger rail in the state.

Our website has a list of legislative candidates who are running for office in the Twin Cities metro area and along the River Route from St. Paul to La Crescent. Every Minnesota House and Senate district is on the ballot this fall.

Thank you for staying involved!

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