Next stop: Fast St. Paul-to-Chicago train?

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 5, 2008 - 11:33 PM

Amtrak's growing popularity in Minnesota, along with its increased financial and political clout, is spurring interest in a high-speed rail line between St. Paul and Chicago.

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tabasco628Dec. 5, 08 9:33 PM

"Ticket revenue for the Empire Builder was up 11.8 percent -- to more than $59 million -- since 2007." The article doesn't cite the line's expenses. Wouldn't a good journalist cite that or explain why it's not available. Otherwise the ticket revenue number is meaningless.

hollyjhDec. 5, 08 9:37 PM

Took the Amtrak from the cities to Olympia, WA and then up to Everett and then home in September. I would highly recommend it. Very economical way to travel. $860 round trip for 3 people. We couldn't have flown or driven for that price. And a lot less hassle than flying!! Will be doing it again.

BizineerDec. 5, 08 9:38 PM

Sure, it *might* (amen, tabasco628) be a good idea to have such a train. It'd also be a fun idea to give everybody in the country a million bucks - but where would the money come to do either thing? We're in debt to record levels. At least in MN, we're spending money on nonessentials like art (it's now constitutionally required, folks!). To paraphrase the late Clara Peller, "Where's the money??" Who is John Galt?

heyseedDec. 5, 08 9:40 PM

I would love the option of a high speed train to Chicago. I've got family there and I don't like to fly (but Southwest's fares make it more attractive). Driving is O.K., but can be a pain in the ass, especially with the kids. I would love to see this happen.

vikessukDec. 5, 08 9:43 PM

Does this area need more transplants from Chicago? Who here actually likes Chicago or greater Illinois? Nobody! three words: cubs & white sox.. How about they pay for some high speed light rail starting in Chicago and ending in St Louis or Dallas? I'd pay for that!

RossbergDec. 5, 0810:00 PM

I took the train from here to Oregon and California and back through Chicago several years ago. Probably the best trip I’ve ever made. My only disappointments were that there were no routes through the Black Hills of South Dakota and that we went through Glacier Park at night. But if you have the time you can’t beat traveling by rail. I don’t see much benefit to high-speed rail service to Chicago since it would only cut a couple of hours off the current time. I’d rather see the money spent on adding some new routes, particularly those to vacation areas. I can hardly wait for the service to start between here and Duluth. Unless it turns out to be expensive, I can see myself going there several times a year as I’m sure will lots of others.

jbazanDec. 5, 0811:06 PM

I'm a Chicago transplant with a young child. Driving back to see family is unacceptable because it's not good to have a child strapped in a car for such a long trip. Flying is often ridiculous these days, due to a variety of reasons including the extra costs such as parking, taxis, and strain on family to come to the airport to retrieve us. We take the Empire Builder to Chicago several times per year - best way to travel in America! Restaurant quality food in the diner (never had a bad meal), watching the rolling landscape while avoiding what passes for driving behavior on the roads, no seat belts, playing games with my child, meeting people from all over the country - can't beat it! A high speed rail line between St Paul and Chicago would be unbelievably beneficial to both areas. Sign up my family!

mn_cameraDec. 5, 0811:34 PM

Fast trains between well-spaced city pairs makes a lot of sense. Forget 100 MPH - get them up over 200 - if Japan and France can, we can - can't we? At that speed, a line from St. Paul, through Rochester, LaCrosse, Madison, Milwaukee, and then Chicago is more than time-competitive with flying. And rail is very fuel-efficient in the bargain. For those Chicago-haters in the crowd, grow up and get over yourselves. If you're too dim or blinkered to know there are good and bad people everywhere, including here, you really need to get out more. And I can't remember the last time anyone hijacked a train and flew it into the side of a building. Anyone? Bueller?

mn55066Dec. 5, 0811:40 PM

The problem with rail is that it can only exist with public subsidy. There is not a public transportation system in the United States (bus or rail) that pays its own way. The price of rail travel is almost the same as air, and Amtrack has never made a penny of profit--in fact it is a drain of tax dollars every year. I like the "idea" of rail travel, but we need to be realistic. Air space is cost-free; railroad tracks are extremely expensive to build and maintain.

TribFibsDec. 5, 0811:49 PM

yesterday from the Twin Cities. I would LOVE to have a high-speed train drop me off downtown. Take the hassle of driving, sit back and read the paper... bring it on! Chicago is a very cool city, especially during the holidays. Let's make it easy for us to go there!


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