Borealis Festivities at SPUD May 21! Join Us!

May 18, 2024


The Long Awaited 2nd Train "BOREALIS" makes its inaugural run on Tuesday 5/21!

A Celebration is planned including an opportunity to view and visit the train.

Here are the event details and how you can help AAMN show support for the new service


Saint Paul Union Depot

240 E. Kellogg Blvd. Saint Paul MN


  • 9:00 - 10:15 am Optional Public Tours of Borealis Trainset
  • 10:45- Event begins with welcome and comments by Government and Amtrak officials
  • 11:22 Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner remarks
  • 11:25 Ribbon Cutting (AAMN President Brian Nelson will participate)
  • 11:30 Board Borealis
  • 11:50 Train Departs

If You Come - What You Can Do to Show AAMN Support!

  • When you arrive: Look for the AAMN banner on the West Side of the concourse opposite Gate A
  • Pick up a button
  • Wear the button during your visit
  • At 10:30 or before gather by the BOREALIS banner for an AAMN Group Photo

What about the first arrival of BOREALIS Westbound?

No Formal Event is Planned but several of us will greet the train and welcome travelers to the Twin Cities. You are welcome to join us. The Borealis is scheduled to arrive at 6:29 pm

Please check in with Tom Beaumont near Gate C by 6:15.

He will have buttons and materials to distribute

These will be good opportunities to show AAMN's commitment and support for Passenger Rail in Minnesota and the Midwest!

If you plan to attend these festivities, please let us know at [email protected]

The New 2nd Daily Twin Cities - Chicago Passenger Train Begins!

May 1, 2024

We have just learned that the 2nd Train to Chicago will begin May 21, 2024! This is the first new passenger train service Minnesota has seen since the discontinuation of the North Star passenger train to Duluth in 1985! The new train is named "Borealis" and is available for booking on Amtrak's website.

This new daily dedicated passenger train will originate at St. Paul Union Depot and departs at 11:50am and will arrive in Chicago at 7:14pm. Westbound, the new train will depart Chicago at 11:05am, and arrive at St. Paul Union Depot at 6:29pm. It serves the same route as the Empire Builder.

This schedule compliments the existing Amtrak long distance Empire Builder train which departs St. Paul eastbound for Chicago at 8:50am and arrives in Chicago at 4:45pm. Westbound, the Empire Builder departs Chicago at 3:05pm and arrives in St. Paul, MN at 10:56pm. The Borealis schedule is approximately 30 minutes faster than the Empire Builder in both directions.

This is a huge deal for Minnesotans, and it's something All Aboard Minnesota has worked towards for the past ten years! Citizen advocacy has paid off in this instance, and we thank all of our members and friends who have spoken out to local and state officials to make this happen! We also sincerely thank our state legislators to provide funding for this service and begin building out multi-modal transportation choices for Minnesotans.

We need to make the Borealis a success, as it will lead to more service around the state and connecting us to the upper Midwest we strongly believe. Tell your neighbors, friends, family, and anyone else you can think of! This is an exciting event and development for our transportation future and increasing passenger rail travel options.

There will be an event at St. Paul Union Depot for the first run and we will keep you posted with details. Join us for the first departure at St. Paul Union Depot! Several of us plan to be there at approximately 10:30am to give the first run a great send off!

Additionally, All Aboard Minnesota is actively promoting the new service with notifications, Press Releases, Podcasts, Facebook posts, a new video, and more. Stay tuned and we will keep you posted on the success of this train.

Thank you again for all of your help and support. Most importantly, on your next trip to Wisconsin and/or Illinois, ride this new train if you possibly can!

MnDOT is asking for your input for the state rail plan! Join us!

April 17, 2024

This invitation from MnDOT below provides AAMN members with an opportunity to attend meetings to discuss the update of the State Rail Plan. Please consider attending one of the meetings and expressing your support for AAMN Passenger rail priorities, including:

  • Getting the 2nd train to Chicago underway

  • Studying the extension of the 2nd train to Fargo/Moorhead

  • Implementing the NLX to Duluth

  • Including the Twin Cities - Des Moines-Kansas City Route and other Long distance routes proposed by the FRA in the State Rail Plan

  • including new proposed corridor routes from Chicago & Eau Claire

Thanks for your support of Passenger Rail and your membership in AAMN!

AAMN Board of Directors

Join us for a public meeting in St. Cloud, Duluth, St. Paul or Mankato!

MnDOT is updating the Minnesota State Rail Plan and as the ultimate beneficiary of this work, we want to hear from you. We are hosting a series of public meetings to provide you with an opportunity to learn about rail plans in Minnesota, provide feedback on rail services and potential impacts and areas of concern.

Upcoming public meeting dates and locations include:



Lake Superior Railroad Museum
506 W Michigan St.
Duluth, MN 55802

Wednesday, April 17, 2024
5-7 p.m.

St. Paul
Union Depot
214 4th St. E.
St. Paul, MN 55101

Wednesday, April 24, 2025
5-7 p.m.

Blue Earth County Historical Society
424 Warren St.
Mankato, MN 56001

Thursday, April 25, 2024
5-7 p.m.

More information

To learn more, visit the State Rail Plan webpage and take the State Rail Plan Public Engagement Survey.


MnDOT invites and encourages participation by all people in their programs, services and activities. If you need an ASL, a foreign language interpreter, or documents in an alternative format (such as braille, large print or in a different language) at no cost, please email your request to Janet Miller at [email protected] or call 651-366-4720. Relay service: 711.

If you need any other reasonable accommodation to participate (such as seating modification or auxiliary aids), please email your request to [email protected] or call 1-833-400-8432. Relay service: 711.

All Aboard Minnesota Supports New Legislation for Railroad Police

April 5, 2024

Legislation has been introduced this session to license Railroad Police Officers as Peace Officers in Minnesota. All Aboard Minnesota strongly supports this legislation, we urge you to contact your legislator and the Governor's office to ask for their support. We have sent letters to Rep. Hornstein, Speaker Hortman, the Governor, and have copied MnDOT and Amtrak Government Affairs.

Here is the letter we sent to Governor Walz:

Dear Governor Walz:

We urge you to support HF 1718/SF1786, which authorizes railroad police as peace officers. In November of 2023, we reported crime and other problematic issues at St. Paul Union Depot which were documented by an Amtrak employee at that time and reports from our members and friends. We believe these issues are ongoing. Making railroad police licensed peace officers is integral to keeping tracks safe from obstructions and vandalism as well as protecting passengers.

With over half of Minnesota police departments understaffed and increasing amounts of passenger rail that are planned for Minnesota, the need for officers to protect the rail network from crime and vandalism and promote safety has grown. This legislation comes at no extra cost in dollar or resources to the state, counties, or cities. For these reasons we ask that you support HF 1718/SF 1786. We all have worked hard to bring more passenger rail in Minnesota, and you have been instrumental in making that happen. We believe that rail passengers must have a safe experience and we believe this bill can assure that will happen.

The Police Chief of Winona, home of an Amtrak station, states, “Our department has had the opportunity to work directly with the railroad police and have found them to be extremely courteous, professional, and welltrained. As a local law enforcement agency, we would also welcome the additional resources of the railroad police to assist us with police response and equipment.” Every state in the US that hosts passenger trains has allowed for licensed railroad peace officers, except Minnesota. It is time for Minnesota to add this essential element of rail safety.

Quarter 1, 2024 Newsletter

February 27, 2024

In this issue:

  • FRA Reveals Proposed New Long Distance Routes- see map below
  • Amtrak Issues RFP for Long Distance Equipment
  • 2nd Twin Cities-Chicago Train Update
  • St. Paul Union Train Days June 1-2

1. FRA Reveals Proposed New Long Distance Routes

On Feb 14, the FRA revealed in the third stakeholder meeting (AAMN is part of the stakeholder group), their Proposed Network of Preferred Routes. The study is for the proposed resumption of long distance routes only that were run by Amtrak but since discontinued, non-daily long distance routes (Cardinal and Sunset), and routes that ran prior to Amtrak's creation in 1971.

The FRA studied traffic flow patterns between urban and rural areas to determine where routes should be added to the current long distance system for geographic regions that are not served by rail passenger service today. To evaluate the range of route options, four major categories of criteria were used:

1. Metro Travel Flows
2. Rural Access
3. Overall Geographic Coverage
4. Stakeholder Input

For Minnesota and the Upper Mid-West, this proposed network of preferred routes has some major implications. Twin Cities to Denver was identified as a major market travel flow, along with Twin Cities to the Southwest and Texas.

The FRA proposed new long distance routes for Minnesota and the Upper Mid-West Include:

1. Restoration of the North Coast Hiawatha from Chicago to Seattle, routing through Minnesota (current Empire Builder route) southern North Dakota and Montana (route of Northern Pacific's North Coast Limited).

2. Twin Cities to San Antonio Texas, routing through Albert Lea, MN, Des Moines, IA, Kansas City, MO Tulsa, OK, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.

3. Twin Cities to Phoenix, AZ, routing through Sioux Falls, SD, Omaha, NE, Kansas City, MO, Newton, KS, Albuquerque, NM, Flagstaff, AZ

4. Twin Cities to Denver, routing through Sioux Falls, and Pierre, SD, Cheyenne, WY


All Aboard Minnesota applauds the FRA's innovative thinking to serve currently underserved regions of the country, especially in the West and Upper-Midwest. In total, 15 new and restored routes are proposed. If implemented, they would add 23,000 more long distance route miles, serve 19M more people across the country and serve 89% of the total US population.

This is a major step, but a first step only. Holistic service plans for all these routes will need to be conducted, and the timeline for implementation for any of these routes is at least 10 years or more away.

The next steps are to conduct the final stakeholder meeting in late May, in which the FRA will reveal their modeling of costs and benefits of the proposed routes, implementation schedules, and present the final long distance study recommendation. After this meeting, the final report will be submitted to Congress. This is the first major plan the FRA has conducted for restoration and addition of new long distance routes and is an exciting step. We will keep you posted as the study and final recommendations evolve.

The FRA is soliciting feedback through March 8, so please provide your thoughts. Here is a link to the FRA Long Distance Study Website where you can provide feedback and read the Stakeholder Meeting Materials;

FRA Long Distance Study

2. Amtrak Issues Long Distance Equipment RFP - But There are Concerns

In December 2023, Amtrak issued an RFP to replace equipment for long-distance trains, some of which has been in service since 1979. While we applaud this move, we are concerned that the number of out of service cars for long distance trains is now at an all time high. For example, the Empire Builder continues to run one coach short compared to pre-Covid consists. Many other long distance trains are running with reduced consists also, limiting ridership and revenue potential.

Amtrak has announced that it has recently spent $28M on long distance equipment, but this is largely a cosmetic refresh. Many Superliner 1 (the equipment delivered 1979-81) and Viewliner 1 cars need major mechanical overhauls to keep operating reliably. New long distance equipment delivery at the earliest is 8-10 years away, and we are concerned that more cars could be taken out of service, which could threaten daily service on long distance routes.

AAMN has met with Minnesota's US Congressional Delegation to voice these concerns and ask for the US Congress to hold Amtrak management accountable to run the long distance network properly.

James Tilley, President, Florida Coalition of Rail Passengers, recently addressed a letter to Amtrak Board Chair Anthony Coscia outlining some recommendations on how Amtrak can keep the current fleet viable until new equipment arrives.

Click here to read his letter: Tilley Letter

3. 2nd Twin Cities to Chicago Train Update

AAMN recently learned that the operating agreements between Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Amtrak, and Canadian Pacific Railway are being negotiated and are possibly nearing completion, which is great news! WisDot announced at at Wisconsin Association of Railroad Passengers meeting in early February that the service will be called the "Borealis". Contacts at Amtrak have told us that the 2nd train will begin operation with refurbished Horizon equipment. Having recently ridden a corridor train with this type of equipment, we can definitely state that it was quite comfortable and attractive. All Aboard Minnesota will stay on top of this developing situation. Once we know when service begins we will publicize the start date and plan to be on-site at St. Paul Union Depot for the first run! Stay Tuned! ​

4. St. Paul Union Depot Train Days, June 1-2

St. Paul Union Depot will be hosting Train Days on June 1-2, 10am-4pm both days. AAMN will be there and we would love it if you could stop by and talk with us. Share your recent Amtrak experiences, and your thoughts on passenger rail developments in Minnesota. We will certainly share our thoughts with you!

The event is posted on our website with a full description on the Events Page

News Bulletin - MnDOT Seeks Public Input for Updating the Minnesota State Rail Plan

February 6, 2024

MnDOT would like your input as the Minnesota State Rail Plan is being updated. This is your chance to provide direct input on your thoughts and opinions about more passenger rail service in our state.

The survey is short, and you can provide additional commentary if you wish. At the end of the survey, there is an interactive map about where you believe additional passenger rail service should be added.

The two routes that All Aboard Minnesota is focusing on and advocating for as the next best potential for Minnesota (beyond adding the 2nd Twin Cities Chicago train, and Twin Cities to Duluth service) are:

1. Daytime St. Paul to Fargo/Moorhead service on the existing Empire Builder route through St. Cloud

2. Twin Cities to Kansas City service through Albert Lea, MN, and Des Moines, IA which would connect us to the Southwest Chief Amtrak service to Los Angeles, CA, and the California Zephyr serving San Francisco, CA. You can find more information about these two routes on our site in the About/Vision area: AAMN Vision Section

Please take the survey and help us in supporting these additional passenger train routes in Minnesota which combined with the 2nd Twin Cities Chicago train, and service to Duluth, will serve more than 70% of the states population.

Here is the full text and links for MnDOT's public service request:

MnDOT invites Minnesota residents, businesses, railroad fans and stakeholders to provide feedback to help set the vision and policy guidance for future public investment in Minnesota’s multimodal transportation system. Minnesotans can provide feedback through spring 2024 in the following ways:

  • Take the 5-minute online survey to share your experiences with freight or passenger rail in Minnesota.
  • Use the interactive map to provide feedback on specific rail crossings, stations and locations.
  • Participate in our public engagement process by attending an upcoming meeting or pop-up event.
  • Please consider forwarding this email to friends, colleagues or family who may wish to get involved, provide feedback or stay informed by subscribing to project updates.

More information
Learn more about the Minnesota State Rail Plan update and how to stay involved and up to date.

FRA Nationwide Corridor Selections

All Aboard Minnesota's 10th Anniversary Event Video

December 18, 2023

Has been posted on our You Tube channel. It was a great day with a great turnout! Thanks to everyone who attended and made the day so memorable. Lot's of great information was presented, check it out!

All Aboard Minnesota - YouTube

News Bulletin - Federal Railroad Administration Announces New Passenger Rail Corridors!

December 9, 2023

Exciting Developments for Passenger Rail!

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has just revealed the routes it has selected nationwide to help state Departments of Transportation plan and expand new passenger rail routes around the country. What this means is that the Federal Railroad Administration will help and partner with state DOT's providing them with an initial $500,000 for study and planning purposes.

This is an impact directly from the Infrastructure and Jobs Act passed by US Congress two years ago.

What does this mean for Minnesota? Quite a bit actually. Here is the list of routes selected in and around Minnesota to build out new passenger rail corridors along with the descriptions provided for each corridor from the FRA:

1. The 2nd Train between the Twin Cities and Chicago. Service Expansion via La Crosse (Up to $500,000) Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The proposed corridor would initiate a new daily round trip between Chicago, IL, and St. Paul, MN to complement the existing Amtrak long-distance Empire Builder, with an extension to Minneapolis, MN. The proposed corridor would also include a study of potential additional frequencies. The corridor sponsor would enter Step 1 of the program to develop a scope, schedule, and cost estimate for preparing, completing, or documenting its service development plan. AAMN note - as we understand it, this study money will help WisDOT prepare the final design and construction documents. The 2nd Train is scheduled to begin service in 2024, maybe even this spring.

2. Northern Lights Express (Up to $500,000) Minnesota Department of Transportation. The proposed corridor would connect Minneapolis to Duluth, MN, through Cambridge and Hinckley, MN. The proposed corridor would provide new service on an existing alignment. The corridor sponsor would enter Step 1 of the program to develop a scope, schedule, and cost estimate for preparing, completing, or documenting its service development plan. AAMN note - as we understand it, this study money will help MnDOT update the Environmental Impact and Design studies last completed in 2017.

3. Milwaukee-Madison-Eau Claire-Twin Cities Corridor (Up to $500,000) Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The proposed corridor would connect Milwaukee, WI, to Minneapolis, MN through Madison and Eau Claire, WI.

4. Eau Claire-Twin Cities Corridor (Up to $500,000) Eau Claire County, MN. The proposed corridor would connect St. Paul to Eau Claire, MN.

5. North Coast Hiawatha (Up to $500,000) Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority. The proposed corridor would restore a connection between Chicago, IL, and Seattle, WA, or Portland, OR, through Milwaukee, WI; La Crosse, WI; Eau Claire, WI; St. Paul, MN; Fargo, ND; Bismarck, ND; Dickinson, ND; Glendive, MT; Billings, MT; Bozeman, MT; Butte, MT; Helena, MT; Missoula, MT; St. Regis, MT; Sandpoint, MT; Spokane, WA; and Pasco, WA. The proposed corridor would provide new service (restoring a route that Amtrak discontinued in 1979) on an existing alignment. The corridor sponsor would enter Step 1 of the program to develop a scope, schedule, and cost estimate for preparing, completing, or documenting its service development plan.

We will keep you posted as these plans develop. The routes listed above would be a great step forward to developing a connected passenger rail system for Minnesotans if they are implemented. We will definitely keep you posted as these plans develop. These are exciting times for anyone that wants to see passenger rail service expansion! Stay tuned!

If you wish to read all the routes selected by the FRA nationwide, here is the full list:

FRA Nationwide Corridor Selections

Channel 9 Fox News - Story about Twin Cities to Duluth Passenger Train Service

November 30, 2023

Channel 9 Fox News ran a story about the Twin Cities to Duluth Passenger Train Service. Brian Nelson from All Aboard Minnesota was interviewed for the story. Passenger trains are making the news! The full story and video is posted here:

Minneapolis to Duluth train awaits decision on federal funds (

Happy Holidays from All Aboard Minnesota! And a look ahead!

November 28, 2023

We wish you a wonderful holiday season, and as always, you our members and friends, are the reason we continue our work for more passenger rail service in Minnesota and throughout the upper Midwest. As we celebrate 10 years officially as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, we are truly grateful for your voice, support, and generosity which keeps us going.

Next year will demonstrate significant progress for all of us:

  • We anticipate the 2nd Twin Cities to Chicago train beginning service,
  • The updated Minnesota State Rail Plan being released,
  • And the Federal Railroad Administration will announce its recommendations of long-distance Amtrak routes to be added to the national network. We will keep you posted on all of these developments.

For our part, All Aboard Minnesota is planning more public outreach meetings, advocacy and education to extend the 2nd Twin Cities to Chicago train to Fargo/Moorhead with a daytime schedule on the Empire Builder route, and begin public outreach, advocacy and education for the Twin Cities to Kansas City route.

Our 2024 plans also include a new video series, and expanded social media reach to engage new audiences, along with a communication, public relations campaign to kick off the 2nd Twin Cities - Chicago train.

We are very grateful that so many of you have generously donated with your membership renewals, and at our 10th Anniversary event. We rely on your membership dues and donations to enable our work with you to expand passenger rail.

If you wish to make a year-end donation, or add to what you've already given, we welcome your generosity. You can donate online here: Donate Here or send us a check at: P.O. Box 4212, St. Paul MN, 55104.

We want to leave you with the message that your voice has made the difference and made it possible to expand passenger rail in Minnesota. We have literally reached thousands of people across the state, and there is more support than ever in the Minnesota Legislature for passenger rail, and that is due to YOU! We thank you and look forward to many more years with you to expand our cause.

Thanks again for all who attended our 10th Anniversary event on Saturday, Nov 18. It was a great turnout! Picture of one of our founders, Jerry Ratliff, presenting below on how it all got started!