Minneapolis/St. Paul - Chicago Corridor Work
Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Minneapolis/St. Paul - Milwaukee High-Speed Rail Corridor to Chicago is currently underway. The MWRRI Phase 7 work involved the analysis of passenger rail route alternatives within the study area.
What is High-Speed Rail?
High-Speed Rail (HSR) service has the characteristics of conventional passenger rail service but at substantially higher speeds. It is most applicable in markets where the combination of travel demand and distance justifies the higher investment cost.
Operations place an emphasis on significantly improved average end-to-end speeds along a corridor, often with limited stops, offering travel advantages to auto and air travelers. North American practice defines HSR as being at least 110 mph. Operations can occur over track shared with slower passenger and freight trains at speeds of up to 150 mph, and on dedicated track where speeds in some countries now exceed 200 mph.
Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Acela service is the only (partial) operational example of HSR in North America.
The Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI) is a cooperative, multi-agency effort that began in 1996 and involves nine Midwest states (Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin) as well as the Federal Railroad Administration. The Midwest Regional Rail System (MWRRS) Plan elements include:
- Use of 3,000 miles of existing rail right of way to connect rural and urban areas
- Operation of a hub and spoke passenger rail system
- Introduction of modern, high-speed trains operating at speeds up to 110 mph
- Provision of multi-modal connections to improve system access
The goal of the initiative is to develop a passenger rail system that offers business and leisure travelers shorter travel times, additional train frequencies, and connections between urban centers and smaller communities.
This study includes the 435-mile corridor from the Twin Cities to Chicago. The Minnesota portion of the study includes approximately 150 miles in southeastern Minnesota from La Crescent to Minneapolis/St. Paul that could accommodate high-speed trains. Today, only one train brings passengers from Minnesota to Chicago in about eight hours travel time. With the MWRRI, Minnesotans could travel to Chicago on an additional six trains in five-and-half hours of travel time.
The MWRRI will provide a large increase in service and will cut travel time between destinations by 30 to 50 percent. In addition, new equipment with reduced maintenance requirements, an advanced train signaling and control system, and line capacity improvements will help to establish and sustain a high-level of on-time performance.
As a result of faster trip times, more frequent, and higher quality on-time service, rail ridership in the routes that encompass the MWRRI will increase greatly. This increase in ridership will help to reduce expected growth in automobile congestion on highways and reduce overcrowding and runway delays at regional airports.
PRIMARY CONTACT: Dan Krom 651-366-3193, Passenger Rail Office
Midwest High-Speed Rail Steering Group Website:
- State Rail Plan
- Passenger Rail Forum
- More About Rail in Minnesota
- Minnesota Rail Maps
- Minnesota Passenger Rail Studies
- Freight Rail
- Rail Transit
- Rail Safety