Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission
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July 15, 2013 

Welcome to our mid-year E-news update! Please forward this newsletter to friends who may be interested in high-speed rail news.

Amtrak Update
Amtrak coming to Union Depot before end of year


Union Depot is open and the Amtrak platform on the south end of the facility is ready, now the final steps are about to be taken to bring passenger rail back to the grand old station.


The Amtrak's Empire Builder, running through the Twin Cities from Seattle and Portland to Chicago, currently stops at the Midway Station in St. Paul. The station is expected to move to the newly renovated Union Depot in the last quarter of 2013.


In order to make the switch, track connections and a signalization system need to be completed.  The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA) recently finalized the last of the construction documents to finish the work.  The RCRRA also has agreements in place with BNSF Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, and Union Pacific Railroad, all of which own track adjacent to Union Depot.


Read more 

HSR Studies on Track
"Second train" study
Amtrak is working with the departments of transportation in Minnesota and Wisconsin to determine the feasibility of adding an additional daily round-trip train in the corridor between St. Cloud and Chicago. 

The route being studied essentially follows that of Amtrak's current Empire Builder trains, with the same station stops between St. Paul and Chicago, but possible stops to the west including Minneapolis and Fridley, current stops on the Northstar commuter rail line.

The initial study was completed this spring; however, a second phase of the study called RTC modeling was added in April. "Rail Traffic Controller" Railroad Operations Modeling is simulation software used to determine how to add capacity to a railroad network and if capital improvements are required. This work is expected to be completed in August.

High-speed rail study
The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission is advocating for the upgrade of passenger rail service between the Twin Cities and Chicago. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is completing a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and Service Development Planning activities on the segment between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. They will develop ridership estimates as well as cost estimates for capital investments and annual maintenance. Both tasks are expected to be completed by end of 2014.

The next step in the process would be Preliminary Engineering and a Tier 2 EIS. If sufficient funding can be secured, final design, construction, and vehicle procurement could take place upon completion of the Tier 2 EIS with operations beginning by the end of the decade.

View MnDOT Fact Sheets with maps and project timelines

Facebook highlights River Route Events
Throughout the summer, the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission has been highlighting the many festivals, fairs and events that make the River Route a unique and popular destination. In its role as advocate for regular, high-speed passenger rail service, the commission hopes these attractions will draw visitors to our area. 

Some examples of upcoming events include the Wabasha County Fair in Wabasha, Minn., July 17 - 20 and Rivertown Days in Hastings, Minn., July 18 - 21.

"Like" our Facebook page for more upcoming events, as well as frequent local and national high-speed rail updates. 

Thank you!
Learn more about the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission at our website, or Like us on Facebook.

Thank you for your interest in High-Speed Rail!

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