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Technical Work

The Project Management Team for the TCMC Second Train project is led by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The 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.

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Current and Future Work

The next steps include: 

  • Detailed design of track improvements

  • Construction of improvements

  • Identifying the type and source of passenger rail vehicles (options are to purchase new vehicles, or to lease vehicles)

  • A minimal environmental analysis 

  • Service contracts between the states and the railroad


​Simultaneously, the Great River Rail Commission's mission is to provide information about the project to the public and key stakeholders, including local, state and federal elected officials and administrators. This information can help these officials make the funding and policy decisions necessary to make the TCMC Second Train project a reality.


Work Completed

Second Train Passenger Rail Service Study - Phase 1

The first phase of the Second Train Passenger Rail Service Study was completed in summer 2019. It evaluated alternatives for track and other infrastructure improvements required for a second daily round trip, along with costs. The scope of work in the study included a Purpose and Need Statement, Alternatives Analysis, and Operations Analysis to evaluate the most efficient service alternative option as it interacts with freight trains, and evaluate railroad infrastructure improvements needs.

Phase 1 reports are here.

Project Update, 2018

MnDOT TCMC Phase 1 Study web page

Fact sheet

Purpose and Need Statement

Alternatives Analysis and Modeling

Second Train Passenger Rail Service Study - Phase 2

The second phase of the Second Train Passenger Rail Service Study was completed in the summer of 2020. The state of Wisconsin provided $300,000 to complete elements of the second phase, including a service development plan and a benefit-cost analysis.

Feasibility Study

Amtrak completed a feasibility study in cooperation with MnDOT, WisDOT and La Crosse County, WI in 2015. The study found that adding a second daily round-trip train between Saint Paul and Chicago was the most feasible alternative for initial service with potential extensions to Minneapolis and Saint Cloud in the future. Adding a second train would offer more options to travelers, provide better eastbound reliability, and more frequent trains. Ridership on the Amtrak® Empire Builder within the Twin Cities-Chicago corridor is routinely high, exceeding 100,000 annually. A second train could carry 155,000 passengers annually.

This page updated November 2020 based on information submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration.

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