2nd St. Paul-Chicago Amtrak daily train expected in 2024

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A second Amtrak passenger train that will run between St. Paul and Chicago is expected to begin daily service in 2024, after Minnesota lawmakers set aside $ 10 million for the project.

State money was the last piece needed to make the additional round trip service to Chicago Union Station a reality. The remainder of the funding for the $ 53.3 million capital portion of the project comes from a federal grant of $ 32 million and funding from Wisconsin and Amtrak.

The second train will complement the existing Amtrak service on the Empire Builder route, which stops in St. Paul as it connects Chicago to Seattle or Portland, Oregon.

The second train is expected to carry around 124,000 passengers between St. Paul and Chicago each year and make the trip in about 7.5 hours. It would travel at a maximum speed of 79 mph.

“It improves flexibility and mobility, improves the movement of goods, improves safety at intersections and boosts tourism,” said Kevin Roggenbuck, senior transportation planner at Ramsey County Regional Rail.

Like the Empire Builder, the second train would stop at Red Wing and Winona, Minnesota. It would make six stops in Wisconsin, including Wisconsin Dells and Milwaukee, before ending in Chicago.

Last October, Amtrak cut service on the Empire Builder and 11 other long-haul routes to three times a week due to declining ridership during the pandemic. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said Monday that federal COVID relief funding allowed them to restart daily service on the Empire Builder on May 24; all 11 other routes are also returning to daily service and at full capacity.

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