What is the TCMC Second Train?

The Twin Cities- Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity City Passenger Rail Service (TCMC Second Train project) 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, more frequent passenger rail service.

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

In June of 2021, the Minnesota Legislature included funding for capital costs for the TCMC Second Train project in the transportation bill which was signed into law by Governor Walz.

Fact Sheets

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

TCMC Second Train Booklet

TCMC Second Train Fact Sheet

Second Train FAQ

TCMC Project Features

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Service Frequency

1 round trip per day to complement existing Empire Builder service.

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Anticipated Schedule

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

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Speed

79 mph (maximum) on existing tracks

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Travel Time

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

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Stations

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

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Ridership

124,000 trips on TCMC, 123,000 trips on current Empire Builder – 247,000 total trips annually

Capital Cost

Entire project: Approximately $53 million. Approximately $40 million for track and station improvements in Minnesota.

Capital Funding

Federal: $32m

Amtrak: $5m

Wisconsin: $6m

Minnesota: $10m

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Operating Cost

Estimated $6.8 million shared by three states.

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Service Start

2024 depending on the availability of funding.

Where Will it Stop in Minnesota?

The project will 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.

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What Will Service be Like?

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

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

This page updated November 2020 based on information submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration and June 2021 with information based on current funding status.

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