Wisconsin, Minnesota to Boost Rail Service with Grant

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Department of Transportation are sharing in a $31.8 million federal grant for station and rail segment improvements to double passenger service and increase freight efficiency along the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago or TCMC rail corridor.

[Above photo by the Wisconsin DOT]

Those two state DOTs said the TCMC Intercity Passenger Rail Project funded by that federal grant would add a second daily passenger rail round-trip along the corridor shared by Amtrak Empire Builder and Hiawatha Service trains. When combined with Amtrak’s current Empire Builder train service, the corridor would offer two daily round trips between St. Paul and Chicago.

Craig Thompson

The TCMC project – which would add extra round trip passenger service in 2024 or sooner – would also include a host of rail improvements that should also save $34.7 million in freight costs over the next 30 years of operation, with grade crossing improvements reducing “gate-down” times and capacity improvements increasing efficiency, noted Craig Thompson, Wisconsin DOT’s secretary.

“This vital rail project came together because the federal government not only recognized its importance to the region but the extraordinary collaboration among states, local economic groups and freight and passenger rail,” he said in a statement.

“[This] team effort … 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,” Thompson emphasized.

“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,” added Nancy Daubenberger, Minnesota DOT’s deputy commissioner and chief engineer, who is also serving as the agency’s interim commissioner.

“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,” she said.

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