Rail service between Twin Cities and Chicago to improve

A second daily passenger trip will be added between St. Paul and the Windy City, and rail and station improvements will improve speed and efficiency.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Love Chicago but hate the drive? A new federal grant may make traveling by rail a more attractive alternative for moving between St. Paul and the Windy City. 

The Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Transportation (WisDOT, MnDOT) are announcing a $31.8 million dollar federal grant that will improve both passenger and freight service along the corridor. The money will be used to add a second daily round-tip via Amtrak, and to fund improvements to rail sections and passenger stations. 

“We are excited about the tremendous benefits that this project will deliver to Minnesotans, including all who work, play, travel or attend a higher education institution along this corridor,” said Interim MnDOT Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger in a released statement. “This grant is an important piece in our shared goals to enhance our regional economies, from the Twin Cities metro area to our thriving small towns in Greater Minnesota.”

“The team effort we are celebrating today brings us a stronger and more diverse transportation infrastructure that strengthens supply chains, connects businesses and universities, and brings us all closer together with more travel options,” added WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson. 

MnDOT and WisDOT say the 411-mile corridor between St. Paul and Chicago will soon be served by two daily round trips, with departures planned for morning and mid-day. They predict more than 124,000 riders will use the service in the first year alone. 

On the freight side of the equation, physical improvements to the rail line are expected to save $34.7 million in freight costs over the next 30 years by reducing gate-down times and increasing capacity. 

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