2nd passenger train from Twin Cities to Chicago could begin service in 2024
There will soon be a second passenger train running from the Twin Cities to Chicago.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) says the goal is to start service from St. Paul’s Union Depot sometime next year.
“We’ve been working hard for a number of years so we’re really excited to get it up and running,” said Greg Mathis, MnDOT’s state planning director of passenger rails.
Mathis says the additional Amtrak service from the Twin Cities to Chicago should take about 7 to 7½ hours. The route makes multiple stops along the way in Wisconsin, including at Wisconsin Dells and Milwaukee.
“While the train starts and ends in major cities, it’s really about connecting all those small towns in between,” Mathis said.
“The way to think about it is a series of mini corridors. Not everyone is getting on in the Twin Cities and riding all the way to Chicago,” said Steve Glischinski, a railroad historian.
Glischinski has written several books and says we haven’t had two trains from the Twin Cities to Chicago since 1981.
“The demand for Amtrak service has been increasing for several years so it’s needed,” Glischinski added.
The Empire Builder is currently the only Amtrak service from the Twin Cities to Chicago, but it includes stops out west in Seattle and Portland. Glischinski says the problem is that eastbound trip through Minnesota can experience delays so he thinks this new trip could be more reliable and drive up ridership.
“I think it will be successful,” Glischinski said.
So how much will it cost to ride? What amenities are on there? A lot of that is still up for discussion, but a survey is now available to help MnDOT finalize those details.
“We want to hear from Minnesotans,” Mathis said.
“I think, No. 1, it has to be on time, you have to be able to rely on it,” Glischinski said. “I think if you provide comfortable, on-time travel with decent food, that’s really all you need.”
There is not a specific launch date for the service, but MnDOT says it is working with its partners in other states to shoot for some time next year.