Legislative Summary

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More than 10 million trips are taken annually between the Twin Cities and Chicago, including air, train and car travel. More than 100,000 of those trips are on the Amtrak® Empire Builder, a passenger train that runs from the west coast through the Twin Cities on its way to Chicago, and back.

​The Twin Cities - Milwaukee - Chicago (TCMC) Second Train is a proposal to add a daily round-trip passenger train on the Twin Cities to Chicago route. The project seeks to improve mobility and increase travel options between Minnesota and Illinois, while minimizing capital investment. 

 

Why do we need a second train?

  • Great ROI. The return on investment for every $1 spent is $2.44 in economic, environmental, safety, and time savings benefits in the corridor that are expected to total more than $159 million over 30 years.

  • Regional and statewide economies benefit from jobs created, increase in freight shipping capacity, tourism, and Minnesota businesses who sold $71 million in goods and services to Amtrak in 2019.

  • Better on-time performance and more convenient travel times for shorter, regional trips.

  • Improved connections between other trains, buses, public transit, and air service.

  • Use of the existing route is significantly less expensive than building new tracks.

Legislative Request

The Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service (TCMC Second Train project) can begin final design and construction once $10 million is approved from local Minnesota sources, fulfilling the final local capital funding requirement. 

 

This $10 million contribution would:

  • Serve as the match for a $32 million federal grant that is already committed

  • Result in more than $40 million of work to improve railroad infrastructure in Winona and La Crescent. 

 

Learn more about Current Funding Status

Document Fact Packet

Project Benefits

​The TCMC Second Train is a proposal to add a daily round-trip passenger train on the Twin Cities to Chicago route. The project seeks to improve mobility and increase travel options between Minnesota and Illinois, while minimizing capital investment by using existing tracks. 

The TCMC Second Train project would:

  • Create jobs and generate economic growth

  • Provide safe, reliable, relaxing, productive, affordable alternative to driving or flying

  • Improve access to tourism, colleges,events, and more!

  • Improve freight train speed and efficiency

  • Improve safety at roadway crossings

 

Learn more about Why a Second Train?

Capital Improvements

The State of Minnesota would see $40 million in rail infrastructure improvements that would benefit both passenger and freight rail including:

  • $19.3 million in siding track and station access improvements in Winona

  • $15.8 million for track and switch improvements in River Junction in La Crescent

  • $5.0 million for special track work on the  Mississippi Swing Bridge near La Crescent

  • $0.5 million for improvements to the Midway Facility in St. Paul

 

Details: TCMC Second Train Fact Sheet

Operating Costs

Operating costs are estimated at $12.6 million annually. Of this amount, $5.8 million is expected to be recovered by fares, with $6.8 million shared by the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. 

 

Learn more

About the TCMC Second Train

The Second Train is expected to carry 124,000 trips annually, and would complement existing Amtrak® Empire Builder service, which typically provides 123,000 trips each year.

 

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