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 Albert Lea and Northfield (see map below)!MnDOT Rail Plan Project Map

Two routes are identified for study: both connect south central Minnesota to St Paul Union Depot and Minneapolis Target Field Station on a rail line that runs directly under the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Inter-campus Busway.

At the southern end of the State, the corridor connects the communities of Albert Lea, Owatonna, Faribault and Northfield  (all currently unserved by regional transit options).  A subsidiary east-west rail line (shown in dotted green below) affords the potential for connecting at Owatonna to southern Minnesota cities including Mankato, Rochester/Destination Medical Center/Mayo Clinic and Winona (where connections are available to existing Amtrak service to Chicago and Seattle) . . . on existing rail line.

MN Corridor to Rochester and DMCIn addition to connections within Minnesota, the rail line (shown in red above)(and on blue on the map below) continues due south of the Minnesota border to Mason City, Des Moines, Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City, FortWorth/Dallas, Austin and San Antonio – – on the  existing rail line.  Along the way, the line (shown below) connects with all of Amtrak’s most popular long-distance routes from the American West and South West.  Amtrak Map

Re-introduction of passenger service on the interstate reach of the line would introduce a time saving “short-cut” into Minnesota from the south  – – making it possible for millions of rail passengers to travel to Minnesota from California, Colorado and the American Southwest without having to travel by way of Minot or Milwaukee . . .as currently required. 

Now designated by MnDOT as the top ranked “Phase One” regional passenger rail corridor in the Statewide Rail Plan, the South Central Minnesota (Albert Lea – Twin Cities) Corridor is eligible for immediate study and implementation. The next required step for the project is an engineering study to determine project details including routes, station stops, rail crossing upgrades, passing tracks and other infrastructure needed to accommodate unimpeded freight and passenger trains on the rail corridor. 

State Representatives Todd Lippert (Northfield) and Alice Hausman (St Paul) have introduced a bill  (HF1393) authorizing the $500,000 in general funds requested by MnDOT to complete the Corridor study; and State Senator Sandy Pappas (St Paul) has sponsored a “companion bill” (SF2365) in support of the line. Legislative support for (HF1393/SF2365) is now needed to launch the planning of the South Central Minnesota Passenger Rail Corridor.  

In addition to that one corridor, Senator Jeremy Miller (Republican Senator from Winona) and Rep. Hausman have introduced bills (HF1639/SF1962)  to authorize the bonds needed to continue implementation of the other six regional passenger rail corridors proposed for State (see MnDOT map above).

Whether these projects continue to roll forward, now depends on Minnesota State Legislators!

Here is where you can help!    Sometime between now and Friday, April 30, 2021 (and the sooner the better). . . . 

Contact Minnesota Legislators and urge them to pass a State budget that includes the funds requested for passenger rail (HF1393/SF2365) and (HF1639/SF1962) !     Let’s build a future transportation system for our State that includes Minnesota’s proposed statewide network of regional passenger rail!

HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP!

I. Email and/or call your hometown State Legislators  (find their emails HERE -Who Represents Me) 

Emails to Sen.Rich.Draheim@senate.mn  (Northfield) 651-296-5558, and to Sen.john.jasinski@senate.mn (Faribault) 651-296-0284 are especially helpful!   [Representative Todd Lippert (Northfield) is already “on board”].    Urge them to authorize the funds needed to re-introduce regional passenger rail to Northfield and Greater Minnesota! Urge their support for (HF1393/SF2365) and(HF1639/SF1962)

  • In the Subject line of your email: type Constituent Request: Support for Passenger Rail for Northfield [or another community if applicable]   
  • Sample message: “Pass a State Budget that includes the funds requested for regional passenger rail projects: (HF1393/SF2365) and(HF1639/SF1962).    Re-introduce regional passenger rail service connecting South Central Minnesota to the Twin Cities on existing rail line through [Northfield, or the name of your City]; and support State investment in the other regional passenger rail corridors identified in the Minnesota State Rail Plan Let’s build a future transportation system that includes regional passenger rail for Greater Minnesota! ”  . . . .thats all you need to say . . . 
  • . . . .but if you want to say more, click this link 20+ Reasons for Regional Passenger Rail  for inspiration.

II.  Email and/or call other Mn Legislators!  Copy and send the same message to other State Legislators, or bcc: them on your email to your Rep(s).  Find a full roster of Senate and House emails HERE: 2021 MN Legislators;  and

III.  Ask friends and family to similarly call and/or email their Legislators! Send them this link  MnRail.org and urge them to get on board of this effort to re-introduce regional passenger service to existing rail lines designated in the Minnesota Statewide Rail Plan!    

 Every email counts and will be counted! 

Thank you for your consideration and support !
For more information about MnRail.org, or to offer support or suggestions, please contact Suzienakasian@gmail.com 507-301-6756.
Thank you.