Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Zip Rail

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MnDOT suspends its work on Zip Rail project

Permits issued for new rail study by private sector group.

What is Zip Rail?

The Rochester-Twin Cities Rail Corridor, or Zip Rail, is an approximately 100-mile corridor located between Rochester and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan Area (Twin Cities). The corridor includes Olmsted, Dodge, Goodhue, Rice, Dakota, Ramsey and Hennepin counties. The rail corridor is planned to connect Rochester with existing and/or proposed transportation facilities in Minneapolis/St. Paul and is consistent with an eventual high speed passenger rail regional connection between the Twin Cities and Chicago.

Zip Rail offers a different type of service than commuter rail or existing rail service:

  • True high speed rail - speeds of up to 150-220 mph
  • Dedicated track - no slow downs due to freight rail competition
  • Time and cost competitive with air and vehicle travel
  • Potential for future connections to other cities and states

As a true high-speed passenger rail service, Zip Rail offers the potential of reduced public financial support once initial capital costs are covered:

  • Faster speeds generate higher ridership, which equals a higher return on investment
  • Speeds and service times maximize ridership potential (i.e. full trains) which generates higher ticket/operating revenues

In 1992, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) designated five high speed rail corridors around the United States, including a Midwest Corridor linking Chicago, IL with Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Detroit, MI, St. Louis, MO, Indianapolis, IN, and the Quad Cities, IL/IA. The FRA has noted the benefits of implementing high speed rail corridor projects and programs will:

  • Serve as a catalyst¬†for growth in regional economic productivity and expansion by stimulating domestic manufacturing, promoting local tourism, and driving commercial and residential development;
  • Increase mobility by creating new choices for travelers in addition to flying or driving;
  • Reduce national dependence on oil; and
  • Foster livable urban and rural communities.