Twin Cities - Des Moines - Kansas City - possibly extending to Texas
Population Served to Kansas City
Without Twin Cities
We believe that population and Amtrak connections give the Twin Cities-Kansas City route the second highest ridership potential after Chicago. This route has potential for three trains a day to Des Moines with one to two trains extending to Kansas City at 79 mph. In the future one train could be extended to form a Twin Cities-Kansas City-Dallas-Houston train. There is already substantial travel along parallel I35 to Des Moines and Kansas City. The rail route is in excellent condition and has moderate freight train traffic.
The route has the opportunity to connect Twin Cities travelers with Amtrak trains going to: Omaha, Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. This could also provide a through Twin Cities to Texas route serving the same travelers as I35. It would offer connections at Kansas City and San Antonio to the popular Minnesota destination of Phoenix.
This route would serve the Minnesota communities of Northfield, Faribault, Owatonna, and Albert Lea, plus Iowa destinations including Mason City, Newton (Ames), and Des Moines and connect with the California Zephyr at Chariton and the Southwest Chief at Kansas City. No longer would Minnesota riders have to go east to Chicago and lay over 24 hours to connect with these west bound trains! MNDOT has moved this route to Tier 1 study status, placing it behind Duluth and Chicago. This route has the second highest ridership potential after Chicago.
In 2016 we did a field study of this line. We found substantial Union Pacific track upgrades in Iowa and Missouri done in 2015. We also found that about half the stations and platforms on the line are still intact, but some may not be usable for future service. For these, we identified alternative station locations.