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.