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MNHSR Fast Facts
The proposed River Route will cut more than two hours (from eight hours currently to approximately five and a half hours) from the existing Amtrak service from Union Depot in St. Paul to downtown Chicago.
April 2, 2014
Greetings!

Greetings! Thank you for your interest in Minnesota High-Speed Rail. Please forward this newsletter to friends who may be interested in high-speed rail news.

Jerry takes HSR on the road

Jerry Miller wants to visit your organization, club or business to convince you that high-speed rail will be a great benefit for people along the River Route. Miller, former Mayor of Winona and former chair of the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission, is the commission's community liaison for 2014. Commission members may also be available to visit with groups. Please contact us at minnesotahighspeedrail@gmail.com if you would like to have Jerry speak to your group.  

 
Presidential Visit to Union Depot
Union Depot in St. Paul, future home to Minnesota High Speed Rail, played host to President Barack Obama in February. 
 
Approximately 1,100 people heard the President announce his proposal for a four-year transportation reauthorization bill.
 
Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission members were invited - this video features commission member, Janice Rettman, a Ramsey County Commissioner. 
 
March Spotlight:  
Funding State Passenger Rail Projects
The state of Minnesota, specifically the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), is responsible for funding intercity passenger rail projects, like Minnesota High Speed Rail. Historically, paying for passenger rail project studies in Minnesota has been dependent on bonding funds.

This year, MnDOT's Passenger Rail office is asking the state legislature for a more sustainable funding source. Currently, railroads pay about $11 million in property taxes annually that go to the state's general fund. The legislation will seek to shift this revenue from the general fund to become a dedicated source of revenue for freight and passenger rail investments. The shift would happen incrementally over several years. The funds will help the Passenger Rail office manage studies. Funding construction and rolling stock would come from a combination of local, state and federal funding sources.
 
March Commission Meeting Summary
Legislative Update
A subgroup of commission members is setting strategy and visiting with legislators during the 2014 Minnesota legislative session. The commission is advocating for state bond funds, a reallocation of revenues to the state's passenger rail office and a policy change to the approval process for heavy rail projects.

Passenger Rail Updates
Staff updated the commission on the Twin Cities to Milwaukee/Chicago High Speed Rail Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, the Second Amtrak Train from Milwaukee/Chicago to the Twin Cities, the ZIP Rail (Rochester to the Twin Cities) alternatives analysis and the NLX (Twin Cities to Duluth) study.

Capacity modeling for the second train study was expected to be completed at the end of January. The Minnesota Department of Transportation now expects to share results at the next Technical Advisory Committee meeting April 3. Completing the modeling takes a great deal of coordination between Amtrak, Canadian Pacific Railways and the consultant team at a time when staff are also managing significantly higher levels of freight train movement. The commission expressed their support for bringing the second Amtrak Train Study to a conclusion. 


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