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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 to the Twin Cities to Chicago route. The project seeks to improve mobility and increase travel options between Minnesota and Illinois, while minimizing capital investment. The trains would operate at current conventional speeds (79 mph) and follow the existing route between Chicago Union Station and Union Depot in Saint Paul.


There are many benefits to adding this transportation alternative:

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Construction of track and station area improvements, estimated at $40 million, will create new jobs. In 2016, Amtrak spent over $60 million on goods and services in Minnesota which only stands to increase if passenger rail service is doubled.

Fact: Amtrak contracts with 50 MN vendors worth $21 million annually.

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration have invested over $11 million in crossing safety improvements along the TCMC corridor; $11.6 million in additional crossing safety improvements are being studied.

Fact: Safety and operational track improvements (freight and passenger) are planned for Winona and the Mississippi River crossing to La Crosse.

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TCMC will support tourism growth in Minnesota cities along the River Route, bringing visitors to major sporting events, small town festivals and our beautiful natural attractions.

Fact: About 46% of Amtrak riders are tourists.

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Communities all along the River Route stand to benefit from the TCMC Second Train by offering a transportation alternative to college students, providing upgrades to freight rail tracks, and diverting auto users to rail.

Fact: 41% of Winona college students have used Amtrak.

Additional Benefits

  • The service would be more reliable and would complement the current service.

  • Better on-time performance and more convenient travel times for shorter, regional trips.

  • Corridor safety would be improved with crossing and track improvements.

  • Investments in rail infrastructure could increase freight rail capacity.

  • Improved connections between other trains, buses, public transit, and air service.

  • Use of the existing route is significantly less expensive than building new track.

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

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