Inter-city Rail (fantasy transit)

Below are thoughts on connecting the larger cities in and immediately near Minnesota via an intercity rail network.  This would be along the lines of Amtrak, but more regional in nature, with the Twin Cities area being the main hub.  Currently only the La Crosse - Twin Cities - Fargo corridor has regular rail service, although there is a push to reinstate rail service on the Twin Cities-to-Duluth corridor, which was cancelled by Amtrak in 1985.

Most of the routes I theorize below would probably not be cost effective or have the ridership figures to justify usage.  But funding issues aside it would be neat to have these connections.

This map shows the regional intercity rail routes through Minnesota under my fantasy system.  My High Speed Rail line is separate and is not included.  Click on the map for a larger graphic.
This map shows estimated line speeds for my regional intercity network.  Click on the map for a larger graphic.



Rail Line Details

Line Name Location Description Stations Map Links
Des Moines St. Paul to Des Moines, IA This line connects the capitols of Minnesota and Iowa.  From Union Station, it heads south across the Mississippi River via a Union Pacific track through the South St. Paul stockyards.  The Union Pacific track eventually merges with a Canadian Pacific track in Rosemount, then once again becomes Union Pacific track at Northfield.  The line then follows Union Pacific trackage all the way south to Des Moines. St. Paul Union Station, Northfield, Faribault, Owatonna, Albert Lea, Mason City, Iowa Falls, Des Moines
Duluth Minneapolis to Duluth This is a line that used to exist, but was cancelled by Amtrak in 1985.  Efforts are underway to reinstate passenger rail service between the two cities.  My fantasy system utilizes an existing BNSF rail line running north from Minneapolis. Minneapolis Multimodal, Cambridge, Hinckley, Duluth Downtown
Eau Claire St. Paul to Eau Claire, WI This line connects the Twin Cities to the primary city in western Wisconsin, using Union Pacific trackage. St. Paul Union Station, Hudson, Menomonie, Eau Claire
Empire Builder La Crosse, WI to Fargo, ND via St. Paul This is Amtrak's existing Empire Builder line through the state, following a Canadian Pacific route southeast of St. Paul and using mostly BNSF tracks northwest to Fargo.  Existing plans to renovate downtown St. Paul's Union Station may result in the Midway station being dropped in favor of Union Station.  Long-range plans for this line also call for upgrading the line to handle 110 MPH passenger trains between St. Paul and Chicago.

The main changes to the Empire Builder in my fantasy system are an upgrade to handle 90 MPH trains (current speeds are limited to 79 MPH), new stations at Hastings, Elk River, and Little Falls, relocating the St. Paul Midway station to Union Station, adding a station at the future Minneapolis Multimodal station (at the future Twins ballpark), and moving the St. Cloud station to the proposed St. Cloud Northstar station.

La Crosse, Winona, Red Wing, Hastings, St. Paul Union Station, Minneapolis Multimodal, Elk River, St. Cloud Northstar, Little Falls, Staples, Detroit Lakes, Fargo
Kandiyohi Minneapolis to Willmar This line connects the Twin Cities metro to this central Minnesota city, using the BNSF mainline that heads west from Minneapolis. Minneapolis Multimodal, Delano, Litchfield, Willmar
Northwoods Fargo, ND to Duluth This would be a fantasy east-west line across northern Minnesota, and is one of two lines in my fantasy system that would not originate or pass through the Twin Cities metro.  The line partially follows the real-life Amtrak Empire Builder between Fargo and Staples, then uses a BNSF line east to Duluth. Fargo, Detroit Lakes, Staples, Brainerd, Aitkin, Carlton, Duluth Downtown
Sioux St. Paul to Sioux City, IA This line heads southwest from the Twin Cities metro to the main city in northwestern Iowa.  It follows mostly Union Pacific trackage, with a combination Union Pacific and Chicago-Central-and-Pacific line between Le Mars and Sioux City. St. Paul Union Station, Shakopee, St. Peter, Mankato, Worthington, Le Mars, Sioux City
Sioux Spur St. Paul to Sioux Falls, SD This spur off of the Sioux line connects to South Dakota's largest city.  Southwest of Worthington, this line splits off the Union Pacific tracks and follows a combination of Minnesota Southern Railway, former Ellis-and-Eastern right-of-way, and BNSF trackage westward to Sioux Falls.  Sioux Falls would be the only station west of Worthington. St. Paul Union Station, Shakopee, St. Peter, Mankato, Worthington, Sioux Falls
Southland Mankato to La Crosse, WI This line connects two of the larger cities in Greater Minnesota (#4 and #2 outside the Twin Cities) and would utilize former Dakota Minnesota and Eastern (now part of Canadian Pacific) trackage that parallels US Highway 14. Mankato, Waseca, Owatonna, Rochester, Winona, La Crosse

Back to Twin Cities fantasy transit system
Go to my suggested freeway/expressway changes.
Go to my ideas for improving/upgrading Twin Cities area interchanges.
Return to Twin Cites Highways

Page last modified 29 October, 2009