Minnesota Could Lose Passenger Trains - Press Release
April 24, 2017
Brian W. Nelson
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Minnesota in danger of losing inter-city passenger trains
Trump budget eliminates AMTRAK Empire Builder train. No funds provided in State
budget for existing or planned passenger service.
St. Paul, Minnesota (April 24, 2017)
The Twin Cities Metro and 10 outstate cities will be without ALL inter-city rail service under
the Trump Transportation budget. Reductions call for eliminating long distance Amtrak
trains like the Empire Builder, currently the only inter-city passenger train serving
Minnesota. The Empire Builder provides service to Chicago and the West coast including
service to the Twin Cities Metro, Fargo/Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Staples/Brainerd, St
Cloud, Red Wing, Winona and La Crosse/La Crescent.
On the state level, the house and senate omnibus transportation bills completely eliminate
all funding for MNDOT’S state rail planning office. If that office does not get funding,
additional planning for expanded rail passenger service for Minnesotans would cease. It
would eliminate the projects to initiate service from Minneapolis Target Field to Duluth via
Cambridge and Hinckley, from St. Paul to Milwaukee and Chicago, and proposed service
from the Twin Cities to Des Moines and Kansas City.
Amtrak is the only public passenger transportation service in an increasing number of
communities that lack intercity bus and airline service, especially in rural Minnesota. The
Empire Builder served 146,689 Minnesota residents for their transportation needs during
2016, which is up 5.8% from 2015. The train over its whole route carried almost 450,000
passengers in 2016*. Planned additional service between the Twin Cities metro area,
Duluth and Chicago could add over 700,000 riders per year.
From an economic standpoint, Amtrak employs Minnesota residents, paying out almost
$3.4 million in wages and benefits, and spending almost $59 million on contracts and
procurements in the state during 2016. Every dollar spent on Amtrak service in a state
generates four dollars in economic activity*.
Furthermore, a recent survey conducted by DFM, a professional research firm,
demonstrated there is widespread and bi-partisan support for Amtrak. When asked if the
government should end all funding/support for Amtrak, 70 % of all interviewed, 6 0 % of
Republicans and 70% of Independents said NO! Over 80% said that funding for Amtrak
should stay the same (42%) or INCREASE (40%). Also, a clear majority, 56%, supported a
second Twin Cities -- Chicago Amtrak schedule. Modern Amtrak long distance trains trains
provide comfortable seating with ample leg and luggage room, with options to move around,
enjoy the scenery and fellow passengers.
“Legislators on the state and federal level need to understand that Amtrak long distance
trains are a needed and desired service for Minnesotans,” said Brian Nelson, President of
All Aboard Minnesota, a rail advocacy group.
The proposed legislative plan assumes the only forms of transportation that should receive
government funding are road and airway service. Rail provides a real transportation option
especially in rural areas where roads now are the only option.
“Expanding, not eliminating inter-city rail passenger service makes sense to serve
Minnesotans growing transportation needs, especially for rural Minnesota. As highways
become ever more expensive, upgrading existing rail lines to accommodate more
passenger service generally is one-tenth the cost of building new highways. Passenger
train service is also 33% more energy efficient than cars, and 20% more efficient than
airplanes.” Nelson stated.
For those citizens concerned about cuts to passenger train service in Minnesota, we urge
you contact your state and federal elected representatives today and state your opposition
to these cuts.
* Source – Amtrak
About All Aboard Minnesota.
All Aboard Minnesota is a 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit advocacy and education organization
focused on the expansion and development of more long distance rail passenger service as
part of a balanced transportation system. We are dedicated to the development of fast,
comfortable, frequent, intercity passenger train services within and connecting Minnesota to
the upper Midwest.
For more information, All Aboard Minnesota can be reached at (612) 781-2894 or on the
Web at: www.allaboardmn.org.
2017 All Aboard Minnesota. All other trademarks are the sole property of their respective