Study says second Chicago-Twin Cities train is viable

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The eastbound Empire Builder crosses the Mississippi River at Hastings, Minn., on Sept. 23, 2018. A Minnesota study supports the idea of a second Chicago-Twin Cities train.
TRAINS: David Lassen

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — A Minnesota Department of Transportation study shows a second passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago is a viable concept, although funding for the proposal has yet to be found.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that rail planners from the state agency presented a preliminary look at the study to the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority last week. A second train would operate four to six hours later than the eastbound Empire Builder, which currently is scheduled to leave St. Paul at 8 a.m., and earlier by a similar amount than the westbound Builder, slated for a 10:03 p.m. arrival. Current estimates for the service range from $137 to $169 million.

A previous Amtrak study found 155,000 passengers would take advantage of the expanded service, and recommended the proposal proceed with an environmental review and public outreach efforts that would make the project eligible for federal funding. Advocates must now find funding for that next step.

“The bottom line is local government has been carrying the water for the last couple of years on this issue,” Rafael Ortega, Regional Railroad Authority chairman, said, according to the newspaper. “We need to push this at the state legislature.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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