River Route

River Route: Twin Cities to Chicago

Southeastern Minnesota's Mississippi River valley, a natural jewel, and among the most beautiful locations in America, is envisioned as a transportation corridor redefined by high-speed rail trains; the picture of modern comfort, reliability and technological innovation. This proposal would travel from the Twin Cities, including a stop at the revitalized, historic Union Depot in St. Paul through picturesque river towns on its way to Milwaukee and Chicago.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration have designated the Mississippi River Route as the preferred line for the proposed high-speed rail system. It’s also home to the existing Empire Builder route and the proposed TCMC Second Train, a daily round trip train between the Twin Cities and Chicago that would complement the existing Amtrak Empire Builder service.

This page is a portal into the details of the project, what work has been completed, and what is yet to come.

River Route Spotlight


Population: 27,546

Nickname: The Island City

Winona is known first and foremost for the beautiful views of the Mississippi River and being surrounded by bluffs. Sugar Loaf is the most recognizable landmark as a bluff standing 500 feet over Lake Winona and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Winona is home to a variety of festivals for everything from art and music to cars and culture. Festivals include the Great River Shakespeare Festival, Minnesota Beethoven Festival, Frozen River Film Festival, Mid West Music Fest, Dixieland Jazz Fest, Boats and Bluegrass Festival and the pride of Winona, Steamboat Days.


City Spotlights

View a spotlight of some of the great destinations along the proposed River Route.

Cottage Grove



Lake City

Red Wing

St. Charles

Saint Paul

Saint Paul Park



County Spotlights

View spotlights of Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission counties.

Dakota County

Goodhue County

Ramsey County

Wabasha County

Winona County

Summer Events

Summertime is filled with activity along the Mississippi River Route. Check out this guide with helpful links to summer festivals and events.

Summer River Route Events

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High-Speed Rail Fast Facts

Fact Sheet Downloads

Have more questions about MN High-Speed Rail? Check out these helpful fact sheets to learn more.

Fact Sheet: About Minnesota High-Speed Rail

Fact Sheet: TCMC Second Train

Frequently Asked Questions