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More Passenger Rail Coming to Minnesota?

The Federal Railroad Administration announced in December that it awarded $8.2 billion for passenger-rail projects nationwide, as well as passenger-rail corridor planning activities that will impact Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago (TCMC) rail service and begin exploration of additional service that could benefit Minnesotans.

Among the projects receiving funding through the federal-state program was an investment in Chicago Union Station, an initial step toward future improvements to the critical Midwest corridors hub, and the eastern terminus for the Amtrak Empire Builder and future TCMC Second Train. 

Notably, Minnesota residents could benefit from additional passenger rail service that were approved for funding of planning studies. The FRA announced 69 passenger-rail corridor selections across 44 states through the new Corridor Identification and Development Program.  Neighboring Wisconsin received funding to develop another train on the TCMC route, as well as funding to study a route from Eau Claire to the Twin Cities, linking the city to others along the line to TCMC services in St. Paul. The program was created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021. The selections were awarded up to $500,000 for further study and planning activities.

The Corridor ID program aims to drive future passenger-rail expansion. The FRA will work with states, transportation agencies, host and operating railroads , and local governments to develop and build passenger-rail projects "faster than before," officials said.

The  IIJA "gave us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to think smart and think big about the future of rail in America, and we are taking full advantage of the resources we have to advance world-class passenger rail services nationwide," said FRA Administrator Amit Bose.

The announced funding is in addition to the $16.4 billion investment that President Biden announced last month for 25 projects to improve passenger-rail infrastructure and service along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

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