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Union Depot to host Amtrak passengers

St. Paul, Minn. (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.

"This is an exciting next step toward high-speed passenger rail service between the Twin Cities and Chicago," said Bill Spitzer, chair of the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission. "This helps us envision increased Amtrak service and, eventually, faster, more frequent trips between two of the largest economic centers in the Midwest."

The Commission is awaiting study results due this spring on adding a second Amtrak train from Milwaukee/Chicago to the Twin Cities. A second study, a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement on Twin Cities to Milwaukee/Chicago high-speed rail, is also underway. This study is looking at six to eight daily round trips at speeds of 90 – 110 miles per hour.

Amtrak will close the Midway Station after the morning train departs for Chicago on May 7 and move operations to Union Depot. The first train arriving at Union Depot will be the evening arrival of the Amtrak Empire Builder from Chicago at 10:03 p.m. and departing at 10:10 p.m. Beginning May 8, the eastbound Empire Builder is scheduled to arrive at 7:52 a.m. and depart at 8:00 a.m. These are slightly different times than are used at the Midway Station.

At Union Depot, Amtrak travelers can connect from more than 500 destinations to intercity buses, Metro Transit and MVTA bus services. In June, Metro Transit’s Green Line will provide additional capacity to a growing and diverse regional transportation system.

The community is invited to celebrate inaugural Amtrak trains at Union Depot with a free event celebrating National Train Day on Saturday, May 10, 2014. Indoor and outdoor activities will take place. Exhibits will be on-site and the Railfan picnic area will be open to view the Amtrak Empire Builder’s departure toward Chicago and to observe the wide variety of freight trains traveling through the Division Street wye. A complete schedule of events will be announced in the coming weeks on Union Depot’s website (www.uniondepot.org), through social media and in local community media.

After extensive renovation, Union Depot reopened as a multi-modal transportation hub in 2012. The last passenger train left Union Depot in 1971, and in 1974, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

About the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission is one of the leading authoritative voices on high-speed rail in Minnesota. Comprised of elected officials from 16 local governments, the commission advocates for the development of Minnesota’s first high-speed rail line within the federally designated high-speed rail corridor that connects the Twin Cities to Milwaukee and Chicago. The commission is a strong proponent of bringing high-speed rail to the Midwest through the scenic upper Mississippi River valley. Information at www.mnhighspeedrail.com.

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