Wisconsin Association of RR Passengers Introduces All Aboard Minnesota

December 14, 2014

A special Thank you to the Wisconsin Association of Railroad Passengers for introducing All Aboard MN in their latest newsletter. You can read their newsletter here;

Wisarp Badger Rails Newsletter 2014-6 (Nov-Dec)

Amtrak and Federal transportation budget situation

December 14, 2014

Here is an update on how Amtrak is faring under the $1.1 Trillion Budget that is headed for President Obama' desk:


Overall funding for transportation programs would remain largely flat. The Transportation Department would get $17.8 billion in discretionary money, equal to last year's total, but $4.8 billion below the White House's request. Highway funding would stay at its annual authorized level of almost $41 billion, transit funding at $8.6 billion. The Federal Transit Administration's budget would grow almost 7 percent to $2.3 billion.

However, the popular TIGER (short for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program would be cut from $600 million to $500 million, less than the Senate Appropriations Committee had wanted but far more than the $100 million than the House had approved in its version of the bill earlier in the year.

Federal subsidies for Amtrak operating expenses would also be sliced from $340 million to $250 million. The passenger railroad last month reported that it had not needed all of its 2014 appropriation to cover losses, as revenue hit a record and expenses were kept in check. But the agreement reverses a House bid to cut funding for Amtrak's capital budget and debt service by almost 20 percent. Instead, that account would grow some 9 percent to $1.14 billion.

As was true in 2014, the bill contains no money for high-speed rail projects, but the deal also rejects an attempt by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) to suspend the use of previously allocated federal funds for California's planned bullet train system.

MNDot to host open houses for Minneapolis-Duluth High Speed Rail Service

November 22, 2014

Open houses slated for proposed Minneapolis-Duluth high-speed rail service

The Minnesota Department of Transportation will host four open houses next month to solicit public input and answer questions on the proposed Northern Lights Express (NLX) high-speed rail line between Minneapolis and Duluth, Minn.

The meetings will held Dec. 4 in Superior, Wis.; Dec. 8 in Sandstone, Minn.; Dec. 9 in Cambridge, Minn.; and Dec. 10 in Hinckley, Minn., according to a MnDOT press release. NLX stations have been proposed for Cambridge, Hinckley and Superior, while Sandstone is being considered as a potential site for a light maintenance facility.

The project is being coordinated by MnDOT in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration, the Minneapolis-Duluth/Superior Passenger Rail Alliance and with cooperation from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. If built, the NLX would operate on 155 miles of an existing BNSF Railway Co. corridor.

All Aboard Minnesota is now a 501 (c) 3 Status Non-Profit!

November 22, 2014

We are very pleased to announce that the IRS has granted us 501 (c) 3 status as a non-profit organization.  This status backdates to our incorporation with the State of Minnesota on July 5, 2013.  All of your donations and membership dues are now tax deductible. Thank you for your membership and support!

Public Meetings for the Rochester-Twin Cities Passenger Rail Corridor Investment

July 23, 2014


As a reminder, there are three upcoming public meetings next week for the Zip Rail Project!

At the public meetings, participants can review the Scoping Booklet and Draft Scoping Decision Document (view the document prior to the meeting at www.goziprail.org), provide input, learn about project updates and ask questions of project staff.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.*
Rochester Community and Technical College, Heintz Center Commons Area
1926 College View Road East, Rochester

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.*
Inver Grove Community Center, Community Room 2
8055 Barbara Ave, Inver Grove Heights

Thursday, July 31, 2014
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.*
Kenyon-Wanamingo High School, Commons Area and Auditorium
400 6th Street, Kenyon

*At each public meeting, there will be a brief presentation starting at 5:30 p.m.

Please see the attached public meeting flyer or visit the project website, www.goziprail.org, for more details.

About the Zip Rail Project
The Rochester-Twin Cities Passenger Rail Corridor (Zip Rail) is an approximately 100-mile corridor between Rochester and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan Area (Twin Cities) that includes the Counties of Dakota, Dodge, Goodhue, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey and Rice. The project is led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in partnership with the Olmsted County Regional Railroad Authority and the Federal Railroad Administration.

The purpose of the Zip Rail project is to provide a convenient, cost effective, reliable and safe passenger rail transportation alternative that will meet forecasted population and economic growth, mobility demands in the corridor, and connect intercity economic centers.



Fun For Everyone - National Train Day 2014 at SPUD

May 11, 2014

We sincerely hope all of you had as much fun as we did at National Train Day at St. Paul Union Depot May 10.  Hundreds of you came by to talk with us and we really enjoyed talking with you, hearing your stories, and the need for more passenger trains in Minnesota

Thank you for signing up, look to hear from us in June.  In addition to signing up, please consider joining our cause with a membership, you can join right on this site in the Support Section.  Just click on the Join and Contact Us button. Our work is only possible with your support!  Thank you!

National Train Day - May 10 - Save the Date!

April 3, 2014

National Train Day is Saturday May 10 - join us at St. Paul Union Depot for a day of fun for everyone!  You can visit Amtrak's website for more information on this great day!  www.Amtrak.com; See you there!

Amtrak Operations to move to St. Paul Union Depot May 7

April 3, 2014

After the Afternoon Zephyr left St. Paul Union Depot on May 1, 1971, St. Paul Union Depot has not seen any intercity passenger service, until now.  After a major restoration, St. Paul Union Depot has again become a transportation hub serving local and intercity bus lines, the soon to be opened light rail line, and now Amtrak's Empire Builder.  Amtrak Train #8, the eastbound Empire Builder will be the last train to serve the Midway Station in St. Paul on May 7, and the westbound Empire Builder Train #7 will open Amtrak operations at SPUD that same evening.

Click on the article from the StarTribune for more information;  http://www.startribune.com/local/east/253559541.html

See you at SPUD!

Empire Builder Schedule Change - April 15, 2014

April 2, 2014

From Trains Magazine Newswire  ‘Empire Builder’ schedule lengthened to accommodate route congestion

Please note - the new schedule is published in the "Amtrak and the Empire Builder" schedule page on this site.

By Bob Johnston
Published: March 27, 2014

CHICAGO — The journey from the Pacific Northwest to Chicago is about to get three hours longer, on paper at least. Amtrak will modify the schedule of both the westbound and eastbound Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder west of St. Paul, Minn., effective April 15.
The change will account “for the freight train congestion and the condition of BNSF-owned infrastructure,” according to Jim Brzezinski, the train’s route director. “We will assess the ability of BNSF to dispatch the Empire Builder with better reliability on this schedule, with further schedule changes possible in June.”
Schedules between Chicago and the Twin Cities remain unchanged, though times are expected to be adjusted slightly when the train begins using St. Paul Union Depot “on a date to be announced.”
Eastbound train No. 8 from Seattle and train No. 28 from Portland will now leave those cities 3 hours earlier and maintain that schedule all the way to Stanley, N.D. Then an hour and 20 minutes of recovery time is added before the Empire Builder is scheduled to arrive in Minot, N.D. Another hour and 10 minutes lengthens the schedule from Grand Forks to Fargo, N.D., and the final 30 minutes of padding occurs between the crew change point of St. Cloud, Minn., and St. Paul.
The schedule change of westbound train Nos. 7 and 27 adds up to an hour and a half, split between Rugby, N.D., and Minot (35 minutes); Wolf Point and Glasgow, Mont., (20 minutes); and Havre to Shelby, Mont., (35 minutes). The changes reflect the pattern of minimum operating delays that Trains News Wire has been tracking since mid-December. A major drawback of the new schedule is that the eastbound train departs Whitefish, Mont., at 4:46 a.m., and the train will pass through Glacier National Park in darkness on all except the longest summer days.
Most of the time, however, the trains have suffered far more serious delays than are being projected on the new schedules. Eastbound into Chicago, the Empire Builder has been 3 hours late or less only 10 times in the past 60 days, and three of those arrivals were short-turned trains from St. Paul. During the same period, train No. 8 typically arrived between four and five hours late, making connections with only the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, scheduled to depart at 9:30 p.m.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari tells Trains News Wire that only connections to the Lake Shore Limited will continue to be allowed at Chicago until an assessment is made on the Builder’s reliability.
Westbound, connections will no longer be honored with the Coast Starlight at Portland, effective immediately. At Seattle, train No. 7 has arrived less than an hour and a half late only 4 times in the past 60 days. As a result, Amtrak still plans on using a sixth set of Empire Builder equipment, so the extra capacity those cars normally provide elsewhere will not be available.

March 24, 2014

USDOT report: More investments needed in transportation infrastructure

As much as $24.5 billion is needed per year to improve the condition of transit-rail and bus systems, according to theU.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) latest report on the conditions and performance of the nation's highways, bridges and transit systems.
The "2013 Status of the Nation's Highways Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance" report confirms that more investment is needed to maintain and improve the nation's transportation infrastructure, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a press release.
"We have an infrastructure deficit in this country, and we need to create more jobs – improving our roads, bridges, and transit systems will provide help on both fronts," he said.
Based on 2010 data, the report estimates all levels of government would need to spend between $123.7 billion and $145.9 billion annually to both maintain and improve the condition of roads and bridges alone. In 2010, federal, state and local governments combined spent $100.2 billion on that infrastructure, including $11.9 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars.
The report also finds that the nation's state-of-good-repair and preventive maintenance backlog for transit is at an all-time high $86 billion, and is growing by $2.5 billion each year. An additional $8.2 billion over current spending levels from all levels of government is needed annually to reduce the backlog over the next 20 years, USDOT officials said.
While some transit systems still are operating rail cars that are more than 30 years old, more than three-quarters of repair needs involve other facets of U.S. transit systems, such as rail stations, trestles and power substations, the report states.
Meanwhile, state and local governments are shouldering more than half the cost of annual investments to preserve and grow the nation’s transit systems, the report adds.