Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

July 25, 2017

Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago intercity passenger rail project releases Purpose & Need study, announces public meetings

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The proposed Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago intercity passenger rail service project reached a milestone this week with the release of its Purpose and Need Statement. The document is available at: www.mndot.gov/passengerrail/tc-mil-chi/docs/purpose-need-statement.pdf.

This marks the beginning of the public involvement and environmental processes for the project and strengthens the partnership between the Federal Railroad Administration, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois departments of transportation, the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission, and La Crosse Area Planning Committee. The study also identifies issues within the corridor and defines how service will benefit travelers.

The proposed TCMC project is a response to projected population increases and economic growth within the rail corridor by providing a second daily roundtrip between the Twin Cities and Chicago. This complements the existing long-distance Amtrak Empire Builder service that operates between Portland, Seattle and Chicago.

“The second daily train is projected to grow the market and provide greater reliability at conventional speed of 79 miles per hour,” said Dan Krom, director of MnDOT’s Passenger Rail Office, which is leading the planning efforts.

This service will provide flexibility and convenience, oriented towards shorter-distance, intercity travel within the TCMC corridor. The service will also connect travelers in cities along the corridor with regional destinations and provide schedule choices for existing and future travelers.

The first public information meetings for the TCMC project will be held Sept. 6 at the La Crosse County Administrative Center in Wisconsin, and Sept. 7, at St. Paul’s Union Depot. Both meetings will begin at 5 p.m.  

The next steps for the proposed project are to evaluate the alternatives for the project and the necessary infrastructure upgrades.   

About this project

The Minnesota Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Transportation, in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration, Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission, and La Crosse Area Planning Committee, are working cooperatively on the initial planning effort for the proposed TCMC Project.

The TCMC corridor is an approximately 418-mile rail corridor connecting major metropolitan regions of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Chicago and providing service to smaller cities of Red Wing and Winona in Minnesota; La Crosse, Tomah, Wisconsin Dells, Portage, Columbus and Milwaukee in Wisconsin; and Glenview in Illinois. Amtrak’s long-distance Empire Builder currently operates between Chicago, Ill., Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore. This service provides one trip per day in each direction. The TCMC Intercity Passenger Rail Service would add a second, shorter-distance train along this route between Union Depot in St. Paul and Union Station in Chicago.

Sign up to receive project updates and information on upcoming public meetings at the project website: www.dot.state.mn.us/passengerrail/tc-mil-chi/. The Purpose and Need Statement is also located on the project website.