Wednesday - August 9, 2017 12:44 am

Chicago-Minneapolis passenger rail addition gaining steam

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Second line would include service in La Crosse. 

Minnesota and Wisconsin are now expressing interest for a second passenger train between Minneapolis and Chicago.

The second Empire Builder line would also service La Crosse.

The La Crosse Area Planning Committee (LAPC) has been working on that issue for several years and is happy to see Minnesota move ahead with the plan now that it's been given the go-ahead from the federal railroad system.

"It really indicated that there is feasibility for another train on that Empire Builder line and Amtrak agreed," LAPC director Tom Faella said.

Next month, the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation will hold a public meeting in La Crosse to explain the plan for increasing passenger rail service.

Supporters of such expansion have been frustrated recently by a seeming lack of interest from Madison.

They complain that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has approved budget cuts and vetoed efforts to add more rail service in the state.

Faella, however said the governor does like a plan to offer more passenger service on Amtrak between La Crosse and Kenosha.

"Gov. Walker has indicated that the state of Wisconsin will support existing service and has supported the feasibility study as well as the existing study," he said.

Faella added one catch.

"Since this is a short-haul regional passenger rail, Amtrak will run the service but will require funding from the states that are served to actually get the rail going," he said.

Faella says the latest report in favor of rail travel by MnDOT follows other feasibility studies going back at least five years.

Last modified on Wednesday - August 9, 2017 7:53 am
Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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