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Why a Second Train?

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. 

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.


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.

TCMC Second Train is good for freight rail!

$34 million - freight operating and inventory savings due to increased capacity from track improvements


Freight shippers will realize more than $34 million over 30 years ($1.2 million annually) in freight operating and inventory cost savings due to track and signal improvements required for the TCMC Second Train*. For an investment by the state of Minnesota of $10 million, $40 million in track and signal improvements will be made. This will result in time savings for freight trains and moving freight faster through the corridor results in inventory savings for shippers.

*Source: Benefit-Cost Analysis, TCMC CRISI Grant Application

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TCMC Second Train is good for tourism!

$4 million - annual tourism dollars anticipated from TCMC Second Train passengers in Minnesota

About 46% of Amtrak riders are tourists, and the average tourist spends over $200 in Minnesota. The June 2020 CRISI Grant Application for the TCMC Second Train forecasted 124,000 annual trips on the train with 39,750 trips to Minnesota stations each year (Winona- 3,600, Red Wing - 3,000, Saint Paul - 33,150). If 46% are tourists, then the TCMC Second Train would result in $4 million of tourist spending in Minnesota annually.*


*Source: Great River Rail Commission, Explore Minnesota


TCMC Second Train is good for colleges!


41% of college students at Winona State University and St. Mary’s University have taken the train to/from school, and 55% say they would take the train if more frequent service was available.


TCMC Second Train is good for business travelers!

$64 million - value of productive time for business travelers choosing train over car

By choosing the train over their car, business travelers gain more than $2.1 million in productive time annually and $64 million over 30 years*. With the TCMC Second Train, riders who had previously driven for business trips will be able to use travel time more productively than they could in the car. Business riders use 75% of their train trip time being productive. The savvy business traveler can not only get work done, but also enjoy the comfort of train travel, including excellent dining options, comfortable seats, and incredible views. Need a break? Get up and walk around anytime you like.

*Source: Benefit-Cost Analysis, TCMC CRISI Grant Application


TCMC Second Train is good for the environment!

580,000 annual miles not driven in cars thanks to TCMC Second Train - 17.4 million miles over 30 years


The project would result in environmental sustainability by removing auto trips from the region’s roads. These savings are offset by the addition of one round trip of TCMC Service per week that results in new train emissions. The methodology for calculating this net benefit is described on our website. The end result is reduced air pollution while providing business and leisure travelers the freedom to choose how to travel. 

*Source: Benefit-Cost Analysis, TCMC CRISI Grant Application

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TCMC Second Train is good for business safety!

Trains are safe. In 2019, 96% of travel fatalities occurred on roads, while 2% were on trains and 1% on planes.

Thanks to safety improvements and education initiatives, train/motor vehicle collisions declined from roughly 12,000 in 1972 to 2,200 in 2018. Amtrak and host railroads have further strengthened safety by implementing Positive Train Control; a technology that matches train speed to track conditions. TCMC Second Train track improvements will result in improved freight train speeds in Winona and La Crescent, allowing trains to clear at-grade intersections more quickly.

Sources: US Dept of Transportation, Operation Lifesaver

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