How Do You Get to Chicago?

Columnist Dave Beal has an interesting piece in Twin Cities Business Magazine on the competing routes for the Madison-St. Paul High Speed Rail extension.:

It might seem simple to pick a route for the speedier, more frequent passenger trains that are proposed to link the Twin Cities with Chicago. After all, there’s an existing Amtrak route, and it and the alternatives have been studied for years.

But nailing down a route has become a point of contention. The one chosen—all options will shave roughly two hours from the pokey eight-hour, once-a-day service provided by Amtrak’s Empire Builder—will determine capital and operating costs, the speed of the trains, and their ridership levels. The decision also matters to communities and businesses along the potential routes, where trains are expected to spur economic development and travel.

Planners at the Minnesota Department of Transportation must consider—at least briefly—all 33 different routes that passenger and freight trains could take between Milwaukee and the Twin Cities in 1950. That’s the mandate laid down by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), says Dan Krom, who heads MNDOT’s passenger rail office.

Krom says planners from MNDOT, Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation, and the FRA are meeting several times a month to come up with a route. He expects an “objective, evidence-based” recommendation to go to the FRA by early next year.

Click here to read the full story.


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