What is the TCMC Second Train?

The Twin Cities - Milwaukee - Chicago (TCMC) Second Train is a proposal to add a daily round trip passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago.

The TCMC Second Train is a first step towards a vision of faster, expanded passenger rail service.

An Amtrak feasibility study in 2015 estimated 155,000 trips could be taken on the second train, which led to the current study evaluating alternatives for track and other infrastructure improvements, along with anticipated costs.

Fact Sheets

Have more questions about Great River Rail? Check out these helpful fact sheets to learn more.

2019-2020 Second Train Fact Packet

Second Train FAQ

TCMC Project Features

Service Frequency

1 round trip per day in addition to existing long-distance Empire Builder service.

Anticipated Schedule

About 4-6 hours difference from the departure/arrival times of the Empire Builder service.


Conventional speeds of 79 mph (maximum)

Travel Time

Faster than Empire Builder service - about 7.5 hours between St. Paul and Chicago.


13 total - including stations in Wisconsin served by the Hiawatha service.


About 155,000 riders annually, as of 2015 estimates.

Capital Cost

Entire project: Approximately $55 to $72 million. Approximately $30 million for track and station improvements in Minnesota.

Operating Cost

Estimated $5.6 million shared by three states.

Service Start

2022 depending on the availability of funding.

Where Would it Stop in Minnesota?

The project would add another round trip to complement the existing Amtrak® Empire Builder service and serve three stations in Minnesota (Saint Paul, Red Wing, Winona). Click the map below for a pdf version of the route.

Graphic, route map

What Would Service be Like?

Travel time would be slightly faster than Empire Builder service at about 7.5 hours between Saint Paul and Chicago and would travel at conventional speeds (79 mph max) on existing tracks. The anticipated schedule would have the train departing/arriving about 4-6 hours from the scheduled times for the existing Empire Builder service. Travel delays would be far less likely with the second train as eastbound trains would originate in St. Paul instead of the west coast.

Benefits of the TCMC Second Train

A second passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago would:

  1. Create jobs and generate economic growth.

  2. Provide a safe, reliable, relaxing, productive, affordable alternative to driving or flying.

  3. Provide access to tourism, colleges, events, and more.

Who is Leading the Project?

The study is being led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The project management team includes the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Illinois Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, and La Crosse Area Planning Committee.

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