Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission
In This Issue
In the News
State's new rail director will tackle oil-train safety, other issues

 Not so fast: high-speed rail plan advancing slower than expected 

Chugging west on Amtrak, family-style

Alt Transit: High Speed Rail for the Midwest
Quick Links

MNHSR Fast Facts
The construction cost of High-Speed Rail is estimated at $7.1 million per mile from St. Paul to Milwaukee compared to $12.2 million per mile to add a lane of highway in each direction between St. Paul and Milwaukee.

  More Fast Facts and FAQs
August 15, 2016
Thank you for your interest in Minnesota High-Speed Rail. Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues who may be interested in high-speed rail news.
LAPC Approved as Latest MNHSR Commission Financial Partner
The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission formally welcomed the La Crosse Area Planning Committee (LAPC) to the commission as a voting member and financial party at its meeting July 7. The LAPC provides transportation planning activities for the La Crosse, WI and La Crescent, MN areas and has long been an ex-officio member of the commission. The LAPC chose to join as a financial party after a feasibility study was completed in 2015 showing promise in increased ridership.

"We felt it was time to demonstrate a financial commitment to the High-Speed Rail Commission," said Tom Faella, executive director of the LAPC. "We believe adding additional passenger rail service soon, and potentially more service sometime in the future, will not only offer another reliable transportation alternative for our residents, it will improve our economy. Track improvements will mean more freight train capacity and will provide more safety investments to avoid derailments and accidents at crossings."

"This is a critical time to add the LAPC to the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission," said Ramsey County Commissioner Janice Rettman, chair of the commission. "We recognize the benefit of having an additional voting member and financial party especially as the next phase of work begins on adding a second passenger train to the corridor." Work has begun on an environmental analysis of adding a second daily round-trip train between the Twin Cities and Chicago.

Commission Member Spotlight 
 Janice Rettman is the Chair of the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission and a County Commissioner in Ramsey County who has served in that role since 1997. She works hard to be an advocate for the people in the communities she represents and is passionate about increasing opportunities for residents of Ramsey County. She has lots of great things to say about the River Route and all of the great communities within it like, "It runs on active train lines in the East Metro area which carry 10,000 freight cars per day, or 5% of the nation's freight volume. It runs through some of the most beautiful country around - clearly a Mecca for all Seasons!" 

Learn more about Janice here.
River Route Spotlight: Ramsey County

The Minnesota High-Speed Rail website continues to shine a spotlight on River Route communities.

Ramsey County contains several cities and communities including the state capital of St. Paul.  Ramsey County is the second-most populous county in Minnesota, with about 10% of the state's residents. It is also the smallest and most densely populated county in Minnesota, and is one of the most densely populated counties in the entire United States. Learn more here.
MN HSR Commission Update 
Second Train Study
Project partners for the second train study recently had a kick off meeting with the consultant team to review the work plan and anticipated study outcomes. The discussion included our project team from the Federal Railroad Administration, state and local partners. Ridership and cost estimates along with the appropriate level of environmental review was discussed and project work has begun. The work is anticipated to continue into the first quarter of 2017.

Tier 1 EIS Study
The Tier 1 EIS project work is proceeding ahead with additional capacity modelling that is important for ridership, capital cost estimates for the corridor. With the changes in freight movements, additional modelling was requested by the FRA. Once the base information is prepared, it will feed into future environmental work. The project partners have agreed to suspend work at that point due to resource constraints and focus on the second train study. Work conducted so far for the Tier 1 EIS has laid the foundation to identify the immediate needs on the corridor, which includes adding a second daily conventional passenger rail service. The second train study is a parallel effort on the same corridor and we want to make sure that improvements identified for the second train service are not duplicated for the future high-speed rail service.
The commission's next meeting is Thursday, September 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Jury Assembly Room at the Goodhue County Justice Center, 454 W. 6th Street, Red Wing, MN 55066. 
Meet Minnesota's New State Rail Director 
Gov. Mark Dayton has appointed Alene Tchourumoff to the newly created role of state rail director. She will oversee railroads in the state and lead the administration's efforts to pursue railroad infrastructure improvements. The focus of the position is to improve rail safety and track rail traffic of crude oil and other hazardous freight. Tchourumoff aims to listen to concerns of citizens and work proactively to improve Minnesota's railroad network.

Get more information on the state's new rail director here.
Minnesota Passenger Rail Update
Plans continue to move forward for North American High Speed Rail (NAHSR) to build what would become the world's first privately funded high-speed rail line to connect the Twin Cities and Rochester. Decisions on the project have been pushed back to the end of the year while the company takes more time researching the route. Learn more from the Post-Bulletin and Progressive.org.

Environmental fieldwork for the Northern Lights Express high-speed passenger rail line between Minneapolis and Duluth is expected to begin this month. The price tag for the project is between $500 million and $600 million, but that has yet to be secured from federal and local sources. Read a spring Star Tribune article.
Legislative Update

It's quiet at the Capitol. Too quiet. The legislature didn't pass a bonding bill and failed to address the state's transportation needs, including funding for Minnesota High-Speed Rail's priorities. Now, state legislative leaders are considering a special session after the Governor's pocket veto of a tax bill. The Governor will insist on addressing all three issues if he calls a special session. You can play a role - contact your legislators and the Governor to let them know how you feel about funding for rail improvements.
Find us on Facebook

Minnesota High-Speed Rail is on Facebook! Get updates on project status as well as news from Minnesota, the United States and around the world having to do with high-speed rail. We also feature city and member spotlights, River Route event listings, and a ton of other great information. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions and share the details of the projects with your friends to grow the conversation about bringing high-speed rail to the River Route and Minnesota. Find us here!

Summer event guide
A big feature of the Facebook page is keeping up with all of the River Route events throughout the year. Summer is host to tons of great events so we have compiled a guide to the River Route summer events that can be found here.
Thank you!
Learn more about the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission at our website, or Like us on Facebook.

Thank you for your interest in High-Speed Rail!