Two Passenger Trains to Chicago and Back are a Real Possibility

April 18, 2016


Two Passenger Trains to Chicago and Back are a Real Possibility

St. Paul, Minnesota (April, 18, 2016 ) – Travelers between the Twin Cities and Chicago who are tired of the frustrations of flying and the hassles of driving (or taking a bus) have, for years, had the choice of just one Amtrak passenger train–, the “Empire Builder” — which leaves St. Paul for Chicago in the early morning hours and returns from Chicago in the late evening.

Now there is a real possibility of a second daily train leaving St. Paul’s Union Depot before noon and returning from Chicago at around the dinner hour…much more convenient for many more travelers between these two major metropolitan areas. The Departments of Transportation in both Minnesota and Wisconsin have agreed to study how to set up this new service.

Unlike the Empire Builder, which originates eastbound in Seattle, the new train would run exclusively between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago on the same route used by Amtrak’s current train. This should greatly increase the on-time reliability of the daily service.

Amtrak and MnDOT recently released studies that found this service to be economically viable. The preliminary study estimates that approximately 155,000 additional riders would be drawn to the service in its early years… reducing congestion on parallel I-94 and giving people a lower-cost alternative to flying.
In addition, this new additional service is expected to create substantial new economic growth and increased tourism all along its route that could offset its modest annual operating cost.

“Most people don’t realize it, but Amtrak has realized record passenger growth during the past three years, hauling over 30 million passengers each year,” said Brian Nelson, President of All Aboard Minnesota, a citizen advocacy group promoting increased train travel options in Minnesota. “People all over the country are proving with their wallets that they want more trains.”

“The state of Minnesota is underserved by Amtrak,” he said, “with the Empire Builder operating through the state in the middle of the night between Chicago and the Pacific northwest. Other states which have invested in more and better train service, such as Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Maine, North Carolina, California and others, have all seen tremendous ridership growth. It only makes sense that fast, comfortable, modern trains should be a part of a truly balanced transportation system,” he added.

And of course, there is the issue of energy efficiency and environmental impact. Trains are 30% more energy-efficient than cars, 20% more efficient than airplanes, resulting in less air pollution, less highway congestion, and less reliance on expensive regional air services.

Nelson also observed that trains are a uniquely satisfying way to travel. Modern coaches are quiet and comfortable, offering large seats that fully recline, and a smooth ride. Riders can get up and walk around, enjoy quiet time for reading or online surfing, have a snack or beverage in the lounge car, or simply relax and watch the scenery.

Nelson urged Minnesotans who would be interested in the second train to Chicago to get in touch with their state legislators and Senators. “Nothing will happen unless the legislators know their constituents are in support of better, more convenient train service,” Nelson said, “and NOW is a good time to do it… while legislators are considering transportation issues…. from the evidence we see, Minnesota could add significant new train services for one tenth of the cost of new roads in many cases… not only would it benefit the entire state economy, it would also benefit citizens from all over the state!”

About All Aboard Minnesota.
All Aboard Minnesota is a 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit advocacy and education organization focused on the expansion and developments of more long distance rail passenger service as part of a balanced transportation system. We are dedicated to the development of fast, comfortable, frequent, intercity passenger train services within and connecting Minnesota to the upper Midwest.

For more information, All Aboard Minnesota can be reached at (612) 781-2894 or on the Web at:

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