Welcome to a better way to travel!

Thanks to a strong show of grass roots support, the Minnesota Statewide  Rail Plan 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 (see map below)!MnDOT Rail Plan Project Map

Two potential routes are identified for study: both connect Minneapolis and St Paul Union Depot; and both routes include a section of track that runs directly under the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Inter-campus Busway.

In the south of the state, the corridor affords an opportunity to restore regional transit to southern tier cities including Faribault, Owatonna, Albert Lea and Austin. 

At Owatonna, a subsidiary east-west rail line (shown in dotted green below) affords an opportunity to reconnect southern tier cities including Mankato, Rochester/DMC Mayo Clinic and Winona with the proposed statewide network of regional rail corridors.

MN Corridor to Rochester and DMCAnd there’s more!  In addition to re-connecting cities within Minnesota, the rail line continues south to offer inter-state connections (shown on the map below) to cities including Mason City, Des Moines, Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City, FortWorth/Dallas, Austin and San Antonio – – on the  existing rail line.

Amtrak Map

Along the way, the line offers potential connections to existing Amtrak routs  to/from states including  California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

The potential development of passenger service on the inter-state reach of this corridor, would multiply the origin-destination pairs afforded by the National Amtrak system, and offer a time-saving “short-cut” to and from Minnesota for the millions of rail passengers who travel that network each year.  

The corridor’s potential accommodation of both in-state and inter-state passengers, doubles the ridership potential of the line, and introduces what amounts to a feeder line and ridership multiplier for the local transit programs and end-mile transit options in cities along the corridor.

The South Central Minnesota passenger rail corridor is designated as a top ranked, or Phase 1 project in the Minnesota Statewide Rail Plan and with that designation is immediately eligible for funding, study and implementation.

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

The next step for this rail project is to secure funds needed for a Feasibility Study (required of all projects) to determine corridor details including routes, station stops, “rolling stock” needs, as well as the rail crossing and infrastructure upgrades needed to accommodate passenger service on existing freight rail lines. 

MnDot has included request for $500,000 in general funds for the Corridor Study in its 2020 budget request to the State Legislature. Rep. Alice Hausman and Sen. Sandy Pappas have introduced bills in the House and Senate respectively (HF1493 and SF1899) that call for the authorization of funds requested by MnDOT for rail projects, including funds for the South Central Corridor study.

In 2015, a strong show of grass roots support succeeded in adding the South Central Minnesota Passenger Rail Corridor into the State Rail Plan.  In 2020, a renewed grass roots effort is getting underway to urge Legislators to authorize of the State funds that MnDot has requested to move the project forward.

Here is where you can help!  

Take 5 minutes to email key Minnesota policy makers (listed below) to urge their support of HF1493/SF1899!  Let our elected leaders know why you support the restoration of regional passenger rail service on the south central Minnesota Corridor and other regional corridors designated in the Minnesota Statewide Rail Plan.

Consider copying your message and sending it to the following leaders:

1. Rep. Mary Murphy, Chair of the House Capitol Investment Committee  Email rep.mary.murphy@house.mn  or call her office: 651-296-2676

2. Rep. Dean Urdahl,  Minority (Republican) leader of the Capitol Investment Committee rep.dean.urdahl@house.mn    651-296-4344  

3. Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan; send a message to the Governor and Lt Governor by clicking HERE  

4.  If you are a Minnesota resident, include a cc: to your hometown/State Representative, and then forward it with a short personal note urging their support for HF1493/SF 1899. Urge your elected leaders to invest in a future Transportation system for Minnesota that includes regional passenger rail to Southern Minnesota.  If you don’t yet know your Representatives – you can find them HERE -Who Represents Me?.

And finally,

5. Consider sending a copy of your email to friends and family members, along with a link to this website MnRail.org,  and ask them to join you in taking the steps outlined above.  

Every message to elected leaders counts, and will be counted! 

For more information about MnRail.org, or to offer support or suggestions, please contact Suzienakasian@mnrail.org. 507-301-6756.

Thank you for your time, consideration and support!