Welcome to a better way to travel!

Thanks to a strong showing of grassroots support, Minnesota’s  Statewide Rail Plan (map below) has been revised to include a passenger rail designation for the corridor that connects south central  Minnesota and the Twin Cities on existing rail line through Northfield!   MnDOT Rail Plan Project Map Two routes between the Twin Cities Metro and Northfield are eligible for study and funding; both make use of existing rail line through Northfield. The proposed corridor continues south from Northfield to Faribault, Owatonna and Albert Lea. And from Owatonna, a subsidiary rail line (shown in dotted green below) offers the possibility of additional passenger rail connections to southern Minnesota cities including Mankato, Rochester/DMC Mayo Clinic, and Winona . . . all on existing rail line .  MN Corridor to Rochester and DMCPassenger service on these rail lines would introduce safe and reliable regional public transit service to the region south of the 7-County Twin Cities Metro – a region not currently served by regional public transit. In addition to supporting regional employers and commuters, the return of regional passenger rail service would be a game changer for Minnesota students and post-secondary schools – introducing a safe and reliable way to connect to education and opportunities around the State – including the University of Minnesota – – at its northernmost point, the south central passenger rail corridor connects the cities of St Paul and Minneapolis with a section of track that runs directly under the Universities Twin Cities Campus Busway!

And there’s more!  In addition to connecting dozens of Minnesota cities, and colleges, the South Central Minnesota rail line continues due south along the I-35 Highway corridor(see map below) to connect to inter-state destinations including Mason City, Des Moines, Kansas City, Topeka, Oklahoma City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio – – all on existing rail line.

Amtrak Map

Along the way, the line offers connections to popular Amtrak routes including the Southwest Chief (Los Angeles, Flagstaff, Albuquerque), the California Zephyr (San Francisco, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Omaha) and the Missouri River Runner (Saint Louis, Jefferson City, and Kansas City).

If developed for passenger service, the inter-state rail corridor would introduce a time saving “short-cut” that will make it possible for rail passengers to get to Minnesota on a straight shot from the south without having to travel by way of Minot or Milwaukee!

What are we waiting for?! Let’s get passenger trains rolling!

Here is how you can help!

Take these 5 easy steps to help catch a train for Northfield

1. Send a comment to the FRA!  The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is asking for public comments to help them determine which Midwest regional rail corridors make sense for future passenger rail development.  They are considering our line! Take a minute and add a comment on the FRA website! Click HERE (and scroll down to find where to “Add a Comment.” Voice your support for a passenger rail corridor along I-35 between Minnesota and Texas as a logical north-south axis or “spine line” for both the MidWest and the nation’s passenger rail network. Tell them where you want to go and how you will use the line. What difference will regional rail service make to your life and future . . .and the planet!  Make this personal. Why does rail makes sense and/or matter to you?!?  If you are a student, let them know your approximate age and where you are from, and consider using your home rather than school.edu email address.

2.Send an email to Governor Dayton (mark.dayton@state.mn.us) Encourage him to champion the funds needed to return regional inter-city passenger rail service to Greater Minnesota on the existing rail lines designated in the revised Minnesota Statewide Rail Plan!

  • Urge the Governor to support HF523 which authorizes the $21 million needed to continue to move forward with passenger rail projects across the State, including the $500,000 needed to study the potential of Northfield’s rail corridor.
  • Tell Governor Dayton why you support state investment in regional passenger rail service on existing rail lines across our State.  Be as specific as you can be: what difference will a statewide passenger rail network make to your life and your future.

Then, before you send this email, copy it, and send the same or similar message to . . .

3.   Rep. Paul Torkelson, (rep.paul.torkelson@house.mn) Chairman of the Transportation Finance Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Include a cc: to the other members of the Committee find emails HERE) and encourage them to:

  • support State investment in the revival of good old fashioned regional passenger rail service for Greater Minnesota on existing rail lines designated in the Minnesota State Rail Plan!
  • grant a hearing to HF 523 which authorizes the funds needed by the MnDOT Rail Office to continue work on regional passenger rail projects that use existing rail lines.
  • let them know where you are from, and why regional passenger rail makes sense for you, and/or your community or your future etc.  And,

4. If you are from Minnesota, send the same message to your hometown Legislative Representatives ( find their names and contact information  HERE.)  And consider calling them to leave a message in support of State investment in passenger rail connections to Greater Minnesota as proposed in the State Rail Plan.

And finally,

5. Help spread the word by sending the link to this website (MnRail.org website ) to your friends and family and encourage them to join you in taking the steps outlined above.

Consider sending the same note to friends on college campuses located along Northfield’s rail corridor or any of the other regional corridors proposed in the Minnesota Rail Plan (see Rail Plan Map at the top of this website). Let them know about MnRail.org and urge them to get connected to this grassroots effort.

Every message to the FRA, the Governor and our Minnesota Legislators counts and will be counted!

So please take the 5 steps (above) and help build a future for Minnesota that includes regional passenger rail service for our State and the Midwest region!

For additional information about MnRail or to offer support or suggestions, please feel free to contact Suzienakasian@mnrail.org.

Thank you for your interest and support!