Chicago - Twin Cities - Fargo - Bismarck - Billings - Seattle/Portland
In 2009, Amtrak evaluated a second Chicago-Seattle/Portland train along the southern route through North Dakota and Montana via Bismarck and Billings. The study determined that such a route would be as successful as the Empire Builder, and in fact would be the third most successful long distance train in the Amtrak system in terms of ridership and financial performance. The study has not moved forward due to lack of equipment and funding to start up the route from scratch. The full study is available on the Amtrak website. This route was operated as the North Coast Limited before Amtrak in 1971 and the North Coast Hiawatha until 1979. It was always a very successful route until Amtrak. Air and bus service along the route has decreased, making rail a more viable alternative. We believe that this route would be worth reestablishing if startup funding could be found. It would not affect the Empire Builder’s performance because of the amount of business being turned away in recent years due to the lack of equipment capacity on the Empire Builder.