Updated: 05/08/2014 7:22 AM
Created: 05/07/2014 7:26 AM KSTP.com
By: Cassie Hart
It took more than $200 million dollars to bring the Union Depot in Downtown St. Paul back to life and on Wednesday night, the transportation hub reached a new milestone.
After more than four decades, passenger rail returned to the Depot. The last passenger train left the Union Depot in 1971 and since the late 1970's Amtrak trains have serviced St. Paul's Midway station on Transfer Road.
Amtrak's Empire Builder rolled in from Chicago more than an hour behind schedule Wednesday night. The train was scheduled to arrive at 10:03 but pulled into the platform around 11:12.
In March, the Empire Builder's on-time performance was 17.4%. In the last year it was on time about %20.4 of the time.
Capacity for the Empire Builder is about 300 passengers. From St. Paul, the train left for Fargo and eventually Seattle, with several stops in between.
"The opportunity to have the train depart and arrive in the center of St. Paul, I think will be a big plus," Terry Hyland said before boarding the Empire Builder to Portland.
"If you have to be there in 4 hours you have to fly. But if I have an option I'm going to take the train any chance I get," said frequent rider Mark Conway.
According to Amtrak, there were about 175 thousand trips from Minnesota stations in 2013, down about %3.6 from 2012. They company says they employed 41 Minnesota residents in 2013 and spent more than $21 million on goods and services in the state.
In June, the Metro Transit Green Line LRT will open connecting Target Field Station in Minneapolis to the Union Depot as a final stop.
Community members can also celebrate the inaugural Amtrak trains during National Train Day on Saturday. The event at Union Depot includes exhibits as well as both indoor and outdoor activities. See details at www.uniondepot.org.