‘A win for the Midwest’: Passenger rail service between St. Paul and Chicago is rolling

‘A win for the Midwest’: Passenger rail service between St. Paul and Chicago is rolling

A new Amtrak rail passenger service between the Twin Cities and Chicago is now operational.

The Borealis daily round trip service left Union Station in St. Paul for the first time on Tuesday.

The route includes stops in Milwaukee and Winona.

Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Amit Bose said the federal government is investing billions of dollars in passenger rail service across the country.

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“Today is another big win for passenger rail expansion in America,” said Bose, speaking during an event at Union Station in St. Paul. “It’s a win for the Midwest, and it’s a win for the growing number of Americans in this region and nationwide who rely on and benefit from passenger rail.”

According to Amtrak, ticket prices for the new service start at about $40.

Ribbon cutting ceremony was held before the departure of the Borealis.

Anika Besst | MPR News

Amtrak’s Director of Strategy for State Supported Services Eric Olson called the new service a competitive travel option.

“Driving with a stop or two along the way is easily seven hours between Chicago and St. Paul,” said Olson. “This is seven hours and 40 minutes, and it’s very much competitive with driving downtown to downtown, St. Paul to Chicago.”

Amy Fisher attended the inaugural send off for the Borealis service. She’s excited about the benefit of passenger rail options in the Twin Cities at more times during the day.

“My son goes to school in Chicago, and he has to come home at midnight on Wednesday night and leave Saturday morning at 8 a.m.,” she said. “And to have a midday one gives us more time as a family over holidays.”

people walk to gate c at a train station

Passengers boarded the Borealis at Gate C for its first trip from the Union Depot in St. Paul on Tuesday.

Anika Besst | MPR News

Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said Minnesota is the national passenger railroad company’s 18th state partner, and the St. Paul to Chicago service is Amtrak’s 29th state-supported rail corridor across the country.

“These services account for half of our ridership across the United States which this year will be over 32 million riders, setting a new record for Amtrak back above the level of service and ridership we had pre-pandemic,” said Gardner. “So the old story is true. When we put it out there, when we make it happen people come, people are coming in droves to ride trains all over the United States.”

The Borealis passenger service is a partnership between Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois Departments of Transportation.         

a sign that reads amtrak and gate c

Amtrak has started daily round trip passenger rail service between St. Paul and Chicago on Tuesday.

Anika Besst | MPR News

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