Walz bonding proposal includes $10 million for Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Second Train

RED WING, Minn. (WKBT) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz included $10 million for the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Second Train project in his $518 million captial investment bonding proposal released Monday.

The funds would provide a local match for a $32 million federal grant awarded last year.

Walz’s proposal was praised Tuesday by the Great River Rail Commission, a group that advocates for passenger rail in Minnesota.

“We want to thank Gov. Walz for including the TCMC Second Train in his bonding proposal for each of the last two years,” said Mark Vaughan, chair of the Great River Rail Commission. “We believe the Minnesota Legislature will see the strong regional and state impact this project has and provide the funds needed to access the federal grant.”

It will cost about $53 million to add a second round-trip passenger train between St. Paul and Chicago, which would complement the current Amtrak Empire Builder service. Most of those dollars are committed, thanks to support from the federal government, Amtrak, and the state of Wisconsin. What’s missing is Minnesota’s contribution of $10 million.

“Minnesota’s investment will result in a huge return for the state, in moving freight and moving people,” Vaughan said. “For every dollar invested in the Second Train, $2.44 is generated within the communities served in economic, environmental, safety, and time savings benefits.”

The proposed service would use existing tracks, carry about 124,000 trips annually, and serve 13 stations, including St. Paul, Red Wing and Winona in Minnesota. Depending on when funding is received, it could be operational by 2023 or 2024.