Recent News

Recent News: MN High-Speed Rail

All aboard the TCMC train

Red Wing Republican Eagle - September 11, 2017

When living in a river town like Red Wing, it's hard to ignore the prominence of the Mississippi River and the train that runs alongside it. These two landmarks could soon be changing. The Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago train, or Second Train, was proposed as a daily round-trip passenger train alongside the Twin Cities to Chicago route.

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Chicago-Twin City train study rolls ahead; proposal would double La Crosse service in either direction

Winona Daily News – August 9, 2017

The effort to establish a second daily passenger train connecting Winona with Chicago and the Twin Cities is rolling ahead. Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation officials determined in 2015 that there is demand to support another train on the Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul corridor, which is currently served by Amtrak’s Empire Builder with one train a day each way between Chicago, Seattle and Portland.

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Intercity passenger rail project from Minnesota to Illinois releases Purpose and Need Study

Transportation Today – July 28, 2017

PA proposed passenger rail service that will go from the Twin Cities in Minnesota to Milwaukee and on to Chicago hit a major progress point this week with the release of its Purpose and Need statement. The 418-mile rail project is meant to supplement an existing Amtrak line. In the study released this week, it identifies issues within the existing corridor and establishes how the new line will benefit riders. With the release of this study, the project enters into the public phase of its consideration, which will include public information meetings.

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Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago intercity passenger rail project releases Purpose & Need study, announces public meetings

Voice of Alexandria – July 26, 2017

The proposed Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago intercity passenger rail service project reached a milestone this week with the release of its Purpose and Need Statement. The document is available here.

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Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago passenger-rail service proposal enters next phase

Progressive Railroading – July 21, 2017

A "purpose and need" statement has been completed for a proposed expansion of daily passenger-rail service between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) announced yesterday. The statement's release defines the project's purpose and marks a milestone in the project's development. It also begins the project's public involvement and environmental processes, MnDOT officials said in a statement.

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Proposed fed budget cuts would end Amtrak's Empire Builder serving Wisconsin

Madison.com - July 19, 2017

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would reduce Amtrak’s funding from $1.5 billion to $760 million, part of a larger package of cuts that trims $2.4 billion from federal transportation in all. That would end all of Amtrak’s long-distance routes — 15 of them — including the Empire Builder, which stretches 2,200 miles from Chicago to Seattle with Wisconsin stops in Milwaukee, Columbus, Portage, Wisconsin Dells, Tomah and La Crosse.

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Legislative Update: State funds passenger rail investments

MNHSR - June 15, 2017

The legislature adjourned and the Governor has signed bills into law. We are delighted to tell you that:

Planning on the TCMC Second Train will continue!

$1 million was included in the transportation bill for the Minnesota Department of Transportation Office of Passenger Rail, which is responsible for planning passenger rail improvements in the state.

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Millennials are all aboard for passenger rail

Star Tribune - May 15, 2017

When Amtrak’s Empire Builder rolled into Winona on a recent morning, St. Mary’s University student Shawn Pruitt hoisted his suitcase and requisite bag of laundry into the train’s midsection and hopped aboard. Like many millennials, the Chicago native does not have a driver’s license and relies on Amtrak to connect him to home five or six times during the school year.

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State, federal passenger rail funding debate

Winona Post - April 12, 2017

When it comes to government funding, things are not looking good for passenger rail in Minnesota. While Amtrak ridership in Minnesota is up, both federal funding for the train’s operation and state funding for a project to offer more frequent service through Winona may be eliminated this year. Local politicians are both decrying passenger rail initiatives as wasteful government spending and urging citizens to support rail funding.

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Support needed for Amtrak rail service to and from Winona

Winona Post - April 10, 2017

Passenger rail service from the Twin Cities to Chicago is very important to our community as service between these points includes a much-used stop here in Winona. A recent survey by the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation showed that four in 10 Southeast Minnesota college students had ridden Amtrak and would ride more often if service was available.

Read more.

April Legislative Update

MNHSR - April 4, 2017

Further planning work on the TCMC Second Train project is in jeopardy.

According to Dan Krom of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT) Passenger Rail Office, “MnDOT/the Administration’s office appropriations request is for $900,000 for each year of the biennium of which some funding may be used for the TCMC Second Train project. The House and Senate versions of omnibus transportation bills provide NO funding for passenger rail activities. Without this funding MnDOT will not be able to continue project work as the office will be eliminated.

Read more.

University Students in Winona Area Consider Passenger Rail a Critical Resource

MNHSR - April 4, 2017

The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission and the Minnesota Department of Transportation teamed up to survey college students from three River Route universities and colleges about their usage of passenger rail. More than 650 students attending Minnesota State College – Southeast, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and Winona State University were surveyed and the results show a desire for more passenger rail options in the region.

Read more.

Expanded Passenger Rail is Good for the Mississippi River Route

MNHSR - March 7, 2017

The beautiful Mississippi River valley in southeastern Minnesota is a bustling transportation corridor. Thousands of cars and trucks, dozens of trains, and (in summertime) many barges are moving people and goods daily through the region. The Minnesota High-Speed Rail (MNHSR) Commission is working on ways to improve the safety and efficiency of the travel experience for those coming to the River Route as well as for those traveling through it. And the first step -- adding a second daily round trip passenger train -- could be up and running in just a few years, with your help.

Read more.

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission Seeks State Funds for Second Train

MNHSR - January 26, 2017

Passenger rail advocates in southeastern Minnesota want the state to provide a portion of the funding needed to complete planning for a second train from the Twin Cities to Chicago. The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission unanimously approved a resolution at its last meeting in support of a $23 million general obligation bonding request for passenger rail service across the state. Non-federal funding is needed to continue to develop the passenger rail system identified in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 2015 State Rail Plan, including the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Second Train, the Northern Lights Express, and initiate work with local partners on emerging corridors.

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Minnesota High-speed Rail Commission Elects Officers

MNHSR - January 26, 2017

Ramsey County Commissioner Janice Rettman will again serve as chair of the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission, a post she has held since 2015. She is joined by newly elected Vice Chair Mark Vaughan, a city council member from Hastings.

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High-Speed Rail Commission seeks state funds for second train

Republican Eagle - February 1, 2017

Passenger rail advocates in southeastern Minnesota want the state to provide a portion of the funding needed to complete planning for a second train from the Twin Cities to Chicago. The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission unanimously approved a resolution at its last meeting in support of a $23 million general obligation bonding request for passenger rail service across the state. Nonfederal funding is needed to continue to develop the passenger rail system identified in the Minnesota Department of Transportation's 2015 State Rail Plan, including the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago second train, the Northern Lights Express, and initiate work with local partners on emerging corridors.

Read more.

Slow Work on Fast Trains: Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission Convenes on rail issues

Winona Daily News - January 6, 2017

The Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission held its first meeting of the year Thursday, setting priorities that include advocating for increased trains to and from the Twin Cities. Composed of local elected officials, the commission advocates for a high-speed rail line within the federally designated rail corridor that connects the Twin Cities to Milwaukee and Chicago. Adding a second daily round trip passenger train running from Twin Cities to Milwaukee and Chicago would increase regional travel have a number of benefits, according to the commission.

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Twin Cities Passenger Rail Climbs Back on Track

Star Tribune - December 23, 2016

After suffering one of the nation’s worst downturns, Amtrak’s passenger rail service through Minnesota is enjoying one of the nation’s strongest bounce-backs. Advocates of a second daily train to Chicago note that the turnaround is happening against the headwind of rock-bottom gas prices, reinforcing their case that there’s a demand out there for rail service.

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Faster Rail Service is Coming to America - Slowly

CityLab - December 12, 2016

There’s a long and distinguished conservative tradition of hating on passenger rail projects, mainly because of the massive federal expenses they tend to incur. Republicans vigorously fought President Obama’s $8 billion pledge to power high-speed intra-city lines back in 2009 (alongside Vice President “Amtrak Joe” Biden, of course), and blocked his plans to fund road, bridge, and rail projects with a $478 billion infrastructure bill in 2015. (A whittled-down, $305 billion version passed later that year.)

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The Feds Finally Make Safety Rules for High Speed Rail

Wired - November 21, 2016

Advocating for high speed rail in the US is a brutal business, continually raising and dashing one’s hopes. Six years ago, President Obama dedicated some $8 billion in stimulus funds to high speed rail projects. Then the governors of Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin spurned the cash. California took the money, only to see its plan to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles hamstrung by bureaucracy, crippling land use issues, and the Golden State’s vicious brand of NIMBYism.

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OneRail – 2016 Rail Safety Report

2016

Rail plays an important role in the nation's transportation system. It is not only energy efficient and environmentally sustainable. It is also vital for economic development, constantly transporting freight and people across the United States. Above all, rail is historically a safe mode of travel, and with continued investment and technological innovation, is becoming even safer.

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State Rail Director visits Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission Meeting

Red Wing, November 9, 2016

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission was honored to host Alene Tchourumoff, the new Minnesota State Rail Director at its November 4 meeting. The position of rail director was created by Governor Mark Dayton in April 2016. The role of state rail director is to proactively address coordination of state agencies which monitor trains hauling oil and other hazardous waste, increase rail safety measures, and expand freight and passenger rail opportunities.

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Amtrak delivers strong FY 2016 Results New ridership record and lowest operating loss ever

Amtrak - November 17, 2016

Amtrak today reported exceptionally strong unaudited financial results for the fiscal year which ended on September 30, 2016 (FY 2016), including an all-time unaudited ticket revenue record of $2.14 billion, a $12 million increase over Fiscal Year 2015.

The increased ticket revenue was fueled by a record 31.3 million passengers on America’s Railroad® – nearly 400,000 more than the previous year. This is the sixth consecutive year Amtrak has carried more than 30 million customers.

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(MnDOT) begins study for second Amtrak train

Post-Bulletin - September 2, 2016

The Minnesota Department of Transportation on Thursday outlined its plans and timetable to study the feasibility of adding a second Amtrak train to the St. Paul to Chicago line at a Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission meeting. (The Post Bulletin article incorrectly reports that the study is led by the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission. It also incorrectly stated that it is a feasibility study when it is a passenger rail service study.) Praveena Pidaparthi, project manager for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said MnDOT would begin a study to evaluate the operations of a second passenger train, including how it would operate within the freight schedule on the track and cost estimates on any track improvements needed to accommodate the additional train.

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Ramsey County set to begin improvements in east metro

Ramsey County - August 19, 2016

The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority is soliciting proposals for the East Metro Rail Continuity Project. The project will build from needs identified in the 2012 East Metro Rail Capacity and Engineering Improvements Study. Improvements will help address capacity constraints and bottlenecks between Union Depot in St. Paul and Hastings, where five percent of the nation’s freight rail volume is accommodated. Amtrak’s Empire Builder, and Minnesota High-Speed Rail’s proposed “second train” and additional high-speed passenger rail service would benefit from these improvements.

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La Crosse Area Planning Committee looks to improve rail services

WXOW.com - August 15, 2016

The La Crosse Area Planning Committee is working to improve rail services along the Mississippi Corridor, particularly here in La Crosse. The group joined the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission as a voting member and financial contributor. The commission supports rail transportation services across the state of Minnesota.

Read more.

Alt Transit: High-Speed Rail for the Midwest

Progressive.org - July 28, 2016

For Rick Harnish, even to recall the experience of riding on a bullet train is thrilling. “You feel the acceleration coming out of the station,” says Harnish, who has traveled on high-speed trains in Europe and Asia. “There’s this weird sense that the speed is really hard to discern, except an interesting thing happens at about 150 miles an hour. It starts to sound like you’re in an airplane because the wind is rushing by so fast.” Read more.

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Not so fast: high-speed rail plan advancing slower than expected

Rochester Post-Bulletin - July 27, 2016

A company seeking to build a high-speed rail line from Rochester to the Twin Cities with private dollars needs more time before deciding whether to push ahead with the project. "We simply need more time to collect information," said North American High Speed Rail Group's Chief Manager Wendy Meadley.

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Online Video and Audio Tours Introduce Historic Union Depot

Union Depot - July 12, 2016

Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority has introduced online video and audio tours that visitors can use to become familiar with Union Depot, a nationally recognized, award-winning multimodal transportation hub in downtown St. Paul. As part of the celebration of the landmark station’s 90th anniversary, the recently released the tour campaign, titled “See. Do. Learn. Go.,” highlights Union Depot’s numerous amenities to help guests plan their visit.

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Chugging West on Amtrak, family-style

Washington Post - July 7, 2016

Shortly before Memorial Day, my husband, Matt, and I pulled our three children out of elementary school a week early and boarded Amtrak’s Empire Builder, which loosely follows the trail of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. We got on in St. Paul, Minn., headed for Portland, Ore. It promised to be a romantic, slow, idyllic trip: more than 37 hours of Internet-free educational time for our kids, and — without the pressure of driving long, bland highways — two bottles of wine for us. Read more.

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La Crosse Area Planning Committee welcomed to Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

Minnesota High-Speed Rail - July 7, 2016

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission formally welcomed the La Crosse Area Planning Committee (LAPC) to the commission as a voting member and financial partner at its meeting Thursday, July 7. The LAPC has committed funds to help pay for studies being conducted on increasing high-speed rail service between the Twin Cities and Chicago, running through La Crosse.

Read more.

State’s new rail director will tackle oil-train safety, other issues

Star Tribune - June 6, 2016

In her new role as Minnesota’s rail director, Tchourumoff will refer back to the map often as she leads Gov. Mark Dayton’s efforts to improve rail safety, train first responders and track the movements of the rail cars that transport Bakken crude oil and other hazardous freight.

Read more.

High-speed rail between the Twin Cities and Rochester: Stealth Train

May 27, 2016

Forces are aligning in Minnesota to bring foreign and domestic funders together on the world’s first privately capitalized high-speed rail (HSR) corridor—a 77-mile, 200 mph train that will connect the MSP region with Rochester. Unlike halting state efforts to initiate costly passenger rail projects, this project, estimated at $2 billion to $4 billion, could, if built entirely with private capital, move through Dakota, Goodhue, and Olmsted counties like a hot knife through butter.

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Planning progresses for Twin Cities-Duluth passenger train service

Twincities.com - February 25, 2016

The downsized Northern Lights Express project would make four daily round trips, traveling an average of 60 mph between the Depot and Target Field in Minneapolis. The project would have an estimated price tag of between $500 million and $600 million, and if it receives federal money, it could be operational by 2020.

Read more.

Midwest Rail Group Surveys College Students

May 5, 2016

At the May 5 Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission meeting Dan Krom of the MnDOT Passenger Rail Office provided an update on the findings of a recent survey of universities and colleges. The study was conducted by the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact (MPIRC) which promotes, coordinates and supports regional improvements to passenger rail services.

Read more.

Train Days at Union Depot

April 27, 2016

Union Depot in St. Paul is hosting Train Days on April 30 and May 1, 2016. This event celebrates the history and adventure of rail travel, combining plenty of fun with lots of educational experiences.

Read more.

Media Advisory: High-Speed Rail Along the River Route

Hastings Rotary Hosts Presentation March 31

March 25, 2016

The Hastings Rotary Club will host a special presentation addressing high-speed rail along the River Route at its March 31 meeting. Bill Spitzer, past chair of the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission and former mayor of St. Charles, MN, and Andru Peters, vice chair of the MN High-Speed Rail Commission and council member of Lake City, MN, will lead the presentation.

Read more.

Commission adopts 2016 legislative initiative

February 23, 2016

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission approved a resolution at its January meeting supporting Minnesota passenger rail legislative initiatives as outlined by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

Read more.

Read the resolution.

Ramsey County revives St. Paul-to Chicago rail study

Pioneer Press - February 9, 2016

Ramsey County took a step Tuesday toward helping to provide a second daily round-trip rail service from St. Paul’s Union Depot to Chicago — a move that ultimately would require Minnesota, Wisconsin or other partners to throw in $6.6 million in annual operating subsidies. More than 100,000 passengers per year already board Amtrak’s Empire Builder passenger rail service between Chicago and St. Paul, and a second daily round trip could draw an additional 155,000 passengers annually.

Read more.

Coalition forms to increase passenger train service to Chicago - Minnesota High-Speed Rail

January 7, 2016

A second daily round trip passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago has taken another step toward reality as funding partners have stepped forward to complete an environmental assessment.

Read more.

Twin Cities-Chicago High-speed Rail Plans Get a Funding Boost

January 11, 2016

A group of private and public funders in Minnesota and Wisconsin have committed $660,000 to further high-speed rail service between the Twin Cities and Chicago. The funders include the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, the La Crosse, Wis., Area Planning Committee, and the Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission.

Read more.

Amtrak Feasibility Study of Additional Service Between St. Paul And Chicago Shows Promise

Minnesota High-Speed Rail

July 10, 2015

A second daily round trip Amtrak passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago is feasible, would improve reliability and increase opportunity for passengers according to a feasibility study by Wisconsin, Minnesota and Amtrak. The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission applauded the study results and called for the next steps to implement service to begin immediately.

MnDOT News Release

Amtrak Feasibility Report

Statement from Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

Media coverage

St. Paul Pioneer Press

St. Paul Pioneer Press (second article)

StarTribune

Progressive Railroading

Brainerd Dispatch

Fox 9

La Crosse Tribune

Private Company gets permits to study high-speed rail route

January 28, 2016

The private company seeking to connect the Twin Cities and Rochester can now study the route. "We feel fortunate to be able to be in this position that we get to study this, that we get to see if it's possible."

Read more.

MnDot suspends work on Zip Rail to Rochester project

January 27, 2016

The plan for a publicly funded high-speed rail line between Rochester and the Twin Cities has been shelved because of lack of money and political support, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) said Wednesday.

Read more.

Abe Aims to Get U.S. On Board Japanese Trains

The Wall Street Journal

April 27, 2015

TOKYO—When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits the U.S. this week, he will act as salesman-in-chief by marketing Japan’s high-speed rail system.

With the support of the government, Japanese companies are vying for chances to join three fast-train projects under consideration in the U.S. The three would link Los Angeles and San Francisco; Dallas and Houston; and New York and Washington with high-speed systems.

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Why the US Needs to Embrace High Speed Rail

Travel Pulse

April 14, 2015

This week Japan set a new land speed record for a mag-lev train at 366 mph. Twice. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe then said he would like to bring mag-lev technology to the U.S. and even offered Japan’s financial assistance. But why haven’t we embraced high speed rail and mag-lev technology here in the U.S.?

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Working On The Railroad: High-Speed Rail Sparks New Career Interest

Valley Public Radio

April 14, 2015

With work on California’s High-Speed rail about to take off, interest in the trades that the rail will need appears to be increasing. That’s according to groups that run pre-apprenticeship programs that teach people the skills necessary to work on building the train. Talk of the project is driving interest in programs intended to train the men and women that will be needed to build it.

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State Legislative Update

Minnesota High Speed Rail

March 19, 2015

The House Transportation and Finance Committee conducted two meetings focused on freight and passenger rail. On February 9, Kevin Reed, Director of Homeland Security and Operations at the Department of Public Safety, gave remarks on emergency response for oil incidents. On February 2, Bill Gardner, Director of the Minnesota Department of Transportation Freight Office, presented an overview of freight rail and economic development. Scott County Commissioner Mike Beard and former Chair of Transportation Policy and Finance Committee, gave an overview of the Freight Rail Economic Development Report.

East Metro rail bills have been introduced on both sides.

1) Senators Hawj, Cohen, Sieben, Kent, and Wiger introduced:
S.F. 371: A bill for an act relating to capital investment; appropriating money for the East Metro Rail Corridor; authorizing the sale and issuance of state bonds. Referred to the Committee on Capital Investment.

2) Senators Hawj, Cohen, Sieben, Kent, and Wiger introduced:
S.F. 372: A bill for an act relating to capital investment; appropriating money for the East Metro Rail Corridor. Referred to the Committee on Capital Investment.

3) Representatives S. Johnson, Hausman, Mahoney, Atkins, and Lillie introduced:
H. F. 760: A bill for an act relating to capital investment; appropriating money for the East Metro Rail Corridor; authorizing the sale and issuance of state bonds. The bill was read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Transportation Policy and Finance.

4) Representatives S. Johnson, Hausman, Mahoney, Atkins, and Lillie introduced:
H. F. 761: A bill for an act relating to capital investment; appropriating money for the East Metro Rail Corridor.

Supreme Court Sides with Amtrak, with Some Distaste

New York Times

March 9, 2015

Washington — The Supreme Court on Monday (March 9) unanimously handed Amtrak an interim victory in a lawsuit challenging the power it wields over competitors. The ruling was a setback for a trade group that had challenged a 2008 federal law giving Amtrak, which carries passengers, a role in setting standards for freight railroad companies.

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What the Supreme Court Has, and Has Not, Ruled About Amtrak

CS Trains.com

March 13, 2015

On Monday (March 9), the US Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case over the constitutionality of Section 207 of the 2008 Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads (DOT v. AAR).

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Review Launched For Rochester-Twin Cities High-Speed Rail Minnesota

CBS Minnesota

March 16, 2015

Government agencies have launched the first phase of an environmental review for the proposed Zip Rail high-speed railroad between the Twin Cities and Rochester.

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MnDOT Study Calls for At-Grade Rail Crossing Improvements

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

January 22, 2015

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) recently released its study on Improvements to Highway-Rail Grade Crossings and Rail Safety with recommended safety upgrades to dozens of highway-rail grade crossings throughout the state including several along the proposed Minnesota High-Speed Rail River Route.

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Ramsey County Commissioner Rettman to head High Speed Rail Commission

MINNPOST

January 12, 2015

Veteran Ramsey County Commissioner Janice Rettman is the new chair of the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission, which is working to get a new, fast passenger rail line between Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul.

Read More from MINNPOST

Learn More about Janice Rettman

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission Supports Ramsey County Funding Request

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

January 9, 2015

In a move to pave the way for increased passenger rail service, the Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission is supporting a $1 million state funding request for rail improvements in St. Paul. The request is being made by the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA) which seeks collaboration with the State of Minnesota in funding the environmental analysis and engineering of a grade separation project in Saint Paul.

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THE YEAR IN REVIEW – High-Speed Rail Across Minnesota, the U.S. and the World

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

January 9, 2015

2014 was a great year for high-speed rail! Read updates on Northern Lights Express, Zip Rail And Amtrak’s Empire Builder. See news on projects in Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and California. And there’s more about high-speed rail now in operation in more than 20 countries and under construction in 10 more.

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How the Twin Cities got transit right

CNNMoney.com

(undated)

When the Minneapolis metro region went to build a light rail line connecting downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, the initial reaction was not good. Several community groups from lower-income neighborhoods along the proposed route opposed the project. They'd been scarred from a previous highway project that cut right through the neighborhood, dividing homes from the retail district and resulting in hundreds of evictions. They were afraid the new rail line would do the same.

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Support for Chicago – Cincinnati high-speed rail grows

Cincinnati Business Courier

October 21, 2014

The mayor and city manager of Hamilton wrote a letter to the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments asking it to fund a feasibility study on running high-speed rail from Cincinnati to Chicago.

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Rail congestion costs farmers

Agrinews.com

October 10, 2014

The Minnesota Grain and Feed Association has been around for 108 years and for 108 years its members have been having trouble with railroads, its executive director told members of a joint legislative committee.

MGFA executive director Bob Zelenka said of the 600 grain elevators in Minnesota, 150 are served by rail, and 50 of those have unit train loading facilities. All of those have been impacted to some degree by rail delays that date back to last fall.

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Lawmakers Call Congested Freight Rails A ‘Growing Crisis’

Cbslocal.com – WCCO

September 30, 2014

Minnesota lawmakers are turning up the heat on the state’s major railroads to do something to alleviate congestion that’s costing the state millions of dollars. Heavy demand on freight transportation is causing congested railroad tracks, leading to serious delays for both commuter and passenger trains.

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Illinois to spend another $102M on high-speed rail

Fox 2 Now – Associated Press

September 1, 2014

The state of Illinois will spent $102 million to build a bridge over the Kankakee River along with other improvements as part of high-speed rail upgrades between Chicago and St. Louis. Gov. Pat Quinn announced the funding on Sunday. The bridge will be built near Wilmington. The money also will pay for other safety and capacity efforts between Joliet and Dwight and a second set of tracks between Mazonia and Elwood.

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Plans for $1B rail line from Minneapolis to Duluth chugging along

Star Tribune

June 29, 2014

Estimated project costs have tripled, corridor counties have defected and key proponents were politically ousted. Yet, the proposed $1 billion passenger-rail line from Minneapolis to Duluth remains on track for federal funding that could cover 80 percent of the project’s expenses, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

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High-speed St. Paul – to – Rochester train? Could Happen

Twincities.com- Pioneer Press

June 3, 2014

High-speed rail someday might roll from Rochester into St. Paul or the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport -- but not into Minneapolis. Routing passengers to the Union Depot would allow them to transfer to Amtrak's Chicago-bound Empire Builder service or future high-speed rail to Chicago, creating a stronger link between the Windy City and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

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High-speed rail scores minor win at legislature

MN High-Speed Rail Commission

May 25, 2014

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission advocated for a number of priorities during the 2014 Minnesota legislative session, including a state bond fund request, a reallocation of revenues to the state's passenger rail office and a policy change to the approval process for passenger rail projects. No funds were appropriated but the policy change was enacted.

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Train capacity modeling: Key component of current HSR studies

MN High-Speed Rail Commission

May 25, 2014

The Minnesota Comprehensive Statewide Freight and Passenger Rail Plan estimated that in 2005 more than 9.7 million trips were taken annually between the Twin Cities and Chicago. This number is forecast to grow to 11.3 million in 2030 with high speed rail accounting for 1.7 million of the trips. This article describes how capacity modeling helps railroads increase capacity to carry additional freight and passengers.

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History and future presented at National Train Day celebration

MN High-Speed Rail Commission

May 10, 2014

More than two dozen people celebrated National Train Day at the historic train depot in Winona on May 10. Area residents were greeted by Winona Mayor Mark Peterson. Greg Gaut, associate professor of history at St. Mary's University, and Bill Spitzer, chair of the Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission.

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After 43 years, St. Paul's Union Depot marks return of passenger trains

St. Paul Pioneer Press

May 7, 2014

Passenger trains are again rolling into St. Paul's historic Union Depot. Ramsey County leaders joined their peers from St. Paul and the state Wednesday to welcome Amtrak to their meticulously restored depot. The first train, the westbound Empire Builder from Chicago, arrived at 11:13 p.m.

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Union Depot in St. Paul to host Amtrak passengers beginning May 7

MN High-Speed Rail Commission

April 4, 2014

Amtrak will begin serving Empire Builder passengers at Union Depot in St. Paul on May 7, according to the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA). Passengers have boarded Amtrak's Empire Builder train, traveling between Chicago and Portland/Seattle, at the Midway Station in St. Paul for years.

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Amtrak's Empire Builder schedule changing to account for chronic freight delays

Star Tribune

March 27, 2014

Coping for months with long delays in train service between St. Paul and the Pacific Northwest, Amtrak on Thursday announced schedule changes along its Empire Builder line in hopes of giving passengers a better chance to arrive on time amid chronic freight traffic congestion.

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When we build trains, we build jobs

National Association of Railroad Passengers

March 19, 2014

Passenger rail is the key to creating the sort of new economy that America needs in the years to come. By building commuter rail systems connecting urban cores with their suburbs, we create the potential for new, transit-oriented development sites that integrate transit into new residential and commercial developments. And by offering a convenient, fast, and affordable way to travel between urban and rural communities, passenger rail connects communities large and small with each other, increasing travel options. In the years to come, passenger rail will be a mode upon which our economic growth continually depends; investment in the present will reap incredible dividends in the future.

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President Obama Visits Saint Paul

City of Saint Paul

February 27, 2014

Video highlights from and reaction to President Obama's speech at Saint Paul's Union Depot transit station.

Watch Here

Joe Biden Welcomes 1st Cities Sprinter Locomotive

Amtrak

February 6, 2014

VIPs announce the launch of the new Amtrak Cities Sprinter locomotive at an event held at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. The locomotives are more energy efficient and more reliable.

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All Aboard: How Urban Train Stations Are Becoming Neighborhood Amenities

February 5, 2014

Even as the economy recovers, Americans are driving less. Across the country, in urban areas, residents are choosing to walk, bike, or take public transit. Cities are renovating their train stations—not into places that commuters hurry through, but into neighborhood and urban amenities.

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Push is on for high-speed passenger trains

Finance & Commerce

January 2, 2014

Advocates for more passenger rail lines in Minnesota will once again request bonding money at the state Legislature in 2014.

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Amtrak leases Union Depot space

MNHighSpeedRail.com

December 3, 2013

It's not here yet, but it's comin' round the bend. Amtrak's Empire Builder is expected to begin service to the historic Union Depot in St. Paul in the first quarter of 2014.

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Canadian Pacific Holiday Train rolls through the River Route

MNHighSpeedRail.com

December 3, 2013

For the 15th year, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train will visit towns along the River Route, future home of Minnesota High Speed Rail. Two brightly decorated trains represent CP’s 2013 Holiday Train program running from November 25 through December 19 across the United States and Canada.

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Japan Pitches Its High-Speed Train With an Offer to Finance

The New York Times

November 18, 2013

As the world’s fastest train raced through central Japan, former Gov. George E. Pataki of New York hoisted his 6-foot-5 frame into the aisle and marveled at the smoothness of the ride. “In the subway I’d need a strap, at least,” Mr. Pataki said as the speedometer hit 315 miles an hour. He hunched over to catch a fleeting glimpse of Mount Fuji through the porthole-like windows. “This is amazing. The future.”

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Deal reached to bring Amtrak to downtown St. Paul

Minnesota Public Radio

November 13, 2013

Train travelers will likely be back in St. Paul's Union Depot early next year, after a 43-year absence. The Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority has approved a 20-year lease, with an option for 20 more with Amtrak at the historic and recently refurbished depot. The county completed a $243 million renovation last year to restore passenger service, which ended at the depot in 1971.

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High-speed rail fans finally get a little real

ChicagoBusiness.com

October 30, 2013

The folks at the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association are unveiling today a proposal to link the core of the high-speed network it wants with something that City Hall and the suburbs want: construction of a proposed but long-stalled express train link between downtown Chicago and O'Hare International Airport, and reconstruction of portions of Metra's aging network to 21st-century, fully electrified standards.

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Final phase of $1.6B high-speed rail project to begin

The State Journal-Register

October 12, 2013

The final phase of Illinois’ more than $1.6 billion venture into high-speed rail begins this week south of Springfield. Train service at 110 mph remains at least a couple of years away.

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State should see high-speed rail project through to the end

Daily Titan

October 9, 2013

The ever dreadful trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco is made even worse when traveling through the Interstate-5, which is surrounded by manure. Luckily, the state is in the process of developing plans to construct a high-speed rail (HSR) system that would link Southern California and Northern California, providing a more efficient travel.

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High-speed can succeed: Study says bullet trains in Illinois costly but feasible

ChicagoBusiness.com

October 2, 2013

A true high-speed rail system in Illinois would be hugely expensive but feasible, whisking passengers at 220 mph from Chicago to St. Louis and, eventually, Indianapolis, a new state-funded study concluded. It would start at O'Hare International Airport and take just 127 minutes to reach downtown St. Louis, stopping at Champaign-Urbana in less than an hour. Springfield would be 78 minutes away from Chicago's Union Station. Champaign to downtown Indianapolis would take about a half-hour.

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High-speed train system is a huge success for China

NDTV.com

September 30, 2013

Changsha, China: The cavernous rail station here for China's new high-speed trains was nearly deserted when it opened less than four years ago. Not anymore. Practically every train is sold out, although they leave for cities all over the country every several minutes.

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Amtrak service could be expanded in Wisconsin

BizTimes.com

September 2, 2013

Gov. Scott Walker rejected $810 million in federal funding for high-speed rail service between Milwaukee and Madison in 2010. However, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is involved in a pair of studies examining the feasibility of expanding existing Amtrak service in the state. The plans are in response to record Amtrak ridership in the state.

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More High Speed Trains for Illinois

5 NBC Chicago

August 9, 2013

Last week, I had lunch with the executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, which has its headquarters in Chicago. The association’s dream is to link the entire region with trains that travel 220 miles an hour. Such a network would strengthen Chicago’s position as capital of the Midwest, by drawing cities that now require an overnight trip into commuting range.

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The regenerative power of America's newest locomotive fleet

Qz.com

August 8, 2013

With new, reliable and more energy efficient electric locomotives, Amtrak is making it easy for travelers to choose America’s Railroad® to keep them on the move in the Northeast. Amtrak, the national intercity passenger rail service, is in the midst of a massive modernization effort. At the heart of this initiative is the Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64), a new breed of electric locomotives designed and manufactured by Siemens, that will deliver a new era of reliable and efficient service for Amtrak passengers. With a top speed of 125 miles per hour, the new locomotives are part of a comprehensive Amtrak Fleet Strategy Plan to modernize and expand its equipment.

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Union Depot ceremony honors the men who wore red caps

Minnesota Public Radio

July 12, 2013

In the old days of train travel in St. Paul, a passenger might arrive at the Union Depot with little time but lots of luggage. The passenger would call out "Cap" or "Red Cap" or even "Boy," and a strong, cheerful man in a uniform and a red cap would spring to his assistance.

At a ceremony this afternoon, a room at the restored St. Paul Union Depot will be named in honor of the Red Caps, the men who for $1.25 an hour greeted passengers and helped carry their bags for more than 70 years.

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HSR studies on track

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

July 15, 2013

“Second train” study
Amtrak is working with the departments of transportation in Minnesota and Wisconsin to determine the feasibility of adding an additional daily round-trip train in the corridor between St. Cloud and Chicago. This work is expected to be completed in August.

High-speed rail study
The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission is advocating for the upgrade of passenger rail service between the Twin Cities and Chicago. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is completing a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and Service Development Planning activities on the segment between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee.

View updates provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Union Depot changes for Amtrak approved by Ramsey County commissioners

St. Paul Pioneer Press

June 25, 2013

Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough has become accustomed to tough questions about the renovated Union Depot transit hub in downtown St. Paul. Now that $243 million in public investment has gone into the cavernous facility, when is Amtrak going to roll in?

On Tuesday, the seven-member board met as the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority and approved the final contracts necessary to install a signalization system on the depot track, as well as a revised term sheet with Union Pacific Railroad and an amended preliminary engineering agreement with BNSF Railway.

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The Future of Train Travel: Life in Hyper-Speed

ArchDaily

June 13, 2013

Japan, inventor of the world’s first bullet train, recently unveiled plans for an even faster and more radical train model: a floating train, powered by magnets, that will travel 100 mph faster than current bullet trains (about 300 mph). The maglev train, standing for “magnetic levitation,” will run between Tokyo and Osaka, an estimated distance of 315 miles, cost $64 billion, and be completed by 2045.

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California high-speed rail approves cheapest firm to start building first phase

MercuryNews.com

June 6, 2013

State bullet train leaders on Thursday approved the start of construction for California's $69 billion high-speed rail line, choosing the cheapest but least qualified firm to build the first leg.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority asked its staff questions for more than an hour, but ultimately said it was confident in choosing a Southern California firm that promised to save the state at least $100 million.

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High-speed rail plan in works for Twin Cities to Milwaukee

Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal

May 30, 2013

Amtrak could provide high-speed, 110-mile-per-hour passenger rail service between Milwaukee and the Twin Cities under track upgrades the Minnesota Department of Transportation is studying.

Wisconsin had pulled out of planning for high-speed rail service for a Milwaukee-to-Madison route, a link in the chain leading to the Twin Cities. But Minnesota officials never stopped planning for high-speed service between Milwaukee, St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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Help Change the Direction of HSR Planning

Midwest High Speed Rail Association

May 24, 2013

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), in partnership with the Illinois, Indiana and United States departments of transportation, is developing a master plan for the Chicago - Detroit Corridor. This 20-year master plan will build upon a number of projects that are already underway to improve reliability and reduce travel times of the existing Amtrak service.

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Amtrak unveils new, efficient locomotives

SmartPlanet

May 14, 2013

As part of a plan to modernize its fleet along some of its most popular routes, Amtrak is rolling out the first of 70 new electric locomotives built by Siemens.

The new Amtrak Cities Sprinter locomotives will operate along the popular Northeast Regional route between Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston at top speeds of 125 miles per hour. They will also go into service on the Keystone route between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa. at 110 miles per hour. All long-distance trains in the northeast corridor will also be replaced by the new locomotives.

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HSR Commission celebrates National Train Day in Winona

Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission

May 12, 2013

Amtrak riders, train fans and local officials celebrated National Train Day Saturday, May 11 at events held at Winona's historic train depot. Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission Chairman Bill Spitzer helped provide donuts to Amtrak passengers and spoke to a crowd packed into the depot during an afternoon open house.

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2014 Budget Proposal Released

Midwest High Speed Rail Association

April 19, 2013

President Obama has announced a dramatic, new reauthorization plan for Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) programs as part of his recently released 2014 budget proposal. The Administration clearly put major effort into the structure of the program, which offers a comprehensive and integrated strategy for a modern, national freight and passenger rail system.

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First bullet train construction bid is below state estimate

Los Angeles Times

April 12, 2013

The top candidate to build the first 29 miles of California's bullet train in the Central Valley bid just under $1 billion, below the state's estimates of the cost, high-speed rail officials announced Friday.

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Amtrak ridership at record levels in first 6 mos. of fiscal year 2013; March single-best month

Star Tribune

April 9, 2013

Amtrak ridership increased in the first six months of fiscal year 2013, with ridership in March setting a record as the single best month ever in Amtrak's history, the railroad said Tuesday. Ridership grew 0.9 percent from October 2012 to March compared to the prior year despite disruptions from weather including Superstorm Sandy. Amtrak said 26 of 45 routes had rider increases.

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Can Private Intercity Passenger Rail Make a Comeback?

The Atlantic Cities

March 25, 2013

It's been several decades since the United States has had a private passenger rail service, and a good bit longer since it's had a lucrative one. All eyes turned to Florida last spring when a private company called Florida East Coast Industries announced it would make a go at passenger rail travel. The new service, named All Aboard Florida, plans to connect downtown Miami with Orlando via Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

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The Economic Case for Rail Subsidies

The Atlantic Cities

March 18, 2013

One argument against government rail subsidies is that public transportation should pay for its own costs through fares. Setting aside the fact that road users don't pay their own costs either, cities should certainly strive for user-pay transit systems with high farebox recovery rates. At the same time, many benefits of rail travel come from reducing road externalities — things like pollution or safety hazards — that are harder to calculate in strict financial terms.

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Commission supports rail improvement funding

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

March 7, 2013

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission approved a resolution of support for a request for funding of rail improvements in the east metro at its March 7 meeting. The $10 million state bonding request is being made by the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority for improvements between downtown St. Paul and Hastings and would benefit both freight rail operations as well as passenger rail.

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Record Amtrak ridership in Twin Cities

StarTribune

March 1, 2013

Despite infrequent service and early morning and late-night arrivals and departures, Amtrak ridership hit an all-time high in the Twin Cities last year. More than 120,500 passengers boarded or stepped off the Empire Builder at St. Paul’s Midway Station in 2012, an increase of 19 percent since 1997, according to a report issued Friday by the Brookings Institution.

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Report: Midwest firms coupled to high-speed rail

Minnesota Public Radio

February 9, 2013

Hundreds of Midwest manufacturers stand to benefit from a web of high-speed passenger rail routes emerging from Chicago's rail hub, according to a report released by an environmental policy group that has fought to defend the use of billions in taxpayer money on such projects.

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Visualizing passenger rail

Finance & Commerce

February 7, 2013

A couple of interesting visuals showing what passenger rail looks like — and could look like — came across this week. The first mapped Amtrak ridership across the United States, the second map came from Californian Alfred Twu and shows what a high-speed rail network across the U.S. could look like if it were to be built out.

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Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission's 2012 Annual Report released

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

February 1, 2013

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission's 2012 Annual Report has just been released. It contains a project update, an overview of high-speed rail projects nationwide and highlights destinations along the River Route. Click here to download the pdf file.

Gov. Dayton: No money for high-speed rail lines

Duluth News Tribune

January 25, 2013

Gov. Mark Dayton says there is no government money right now to build high-speed rail lines in Minnesota.

Speaking at the Minnesota Newspaper Association annual conference Thursday, Dayton cast doubt on taxpayer money being available anytime soon for high-speed rail.

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Commentary: Region poised for arrival of high speed rail

Ron Allen | Red Wing Republican Eagle

January 24, 2013

The hard work of the Goodhue County Railroad Authority, Red Rock Corridor Committee and Minnesota High Speed Commission has been able to keep the Chicago-Winona-Red Wing-St. Paul as part of the high speed rail route known as the “River Route."

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St. Charles' Spitzer named high-speed rail commission chair

Brett Boese | Rochester Post Bulletin

January 17, 2013

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission named St. Charles Mayor William J. Spitzer its chair for 2013. Former Winona Mayor Jerry Miller held that post in 2012 until his retirement.

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Resources

Onboard Midwest – The St. Paul Chamber of Commerce's website supporting high-speed rail from the Twin Cities to Chicago

Onboard Midwest videos

Amtrak Cascades video (WMV file, best viewed with RealPlayer)

Minnesota High-Speed Rail News

Commission Adopts 2016 Legislative Initiative

Amtrak Second Train Study Released

Ramsey County Commissioner Rettman
to head High Speed Rail Commission

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission
Supports Ramsey County Funding Request

2014: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Minnesota Passenger Rail Forum
shapes rail policy

Union Depot in St. Paul to host
Amtrak passengers beginning May 7

Amtrak leases Union Depot space

Deal reached to bring Amtrak to downtown
St. Paul

HSR studies on track

HSR Commission celebrates National Train Day in Winona

Commission supports rail improvement funding

Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission's 2012 Annual Report released

St. Charles' Spitzer named high-speed rail commission chair

High-speed rail needs attention from the Legislature

Commission responds to Washington County vote to leave High-Speed Rail Commission

That roar in the river valley? That's the sound of progress.

Why high-speed rail is good for Minnesota

Mississippi River Route Decision Brings High-Speed Rail from Twin Cities to Chicago Closer to Reality

High-Speed Rail Focus of Discussion in Winona

Legislators should send a positive signal on Minnesota's interest in high-speed rail

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

Frequently Asked Questions