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Amtrak Adds Second St. Paul – Chicago Daily

Starting May 21, Amtrak will add a second daily round-trip between Chicago Union Station and the Twin Cities at St. Paul Amtrak Station

Amtrak Borealis - Amtrak will add a second daily round-trip between Chicago Union Station and the Twin Cities at St Paul Amtrak Station Amtrak will add a second daily round-trip between Chicago Union Station and the Twin Cities at St Paul Amtrak Station

Starting May 21, Amtrak will add a second daily round-trip between Chicago Union Station and the Twin Cities at St. Paul Amtrak Station. Trains will depart westbound from Chicago at 11:05 a.m. and eastbound from St. Paul at 11:50 a.m., arriving after about seven and a half hours. The Borealis trains will use the same route as the current Chicago-West Coast Empire Builder—the former Milwaukee Road main line—and make the current Empire Builder stops plus Milwaukee Airport and Sturdevant (Racine). The new train will carry coach and business class plus a café car. Tickets are on sale now, with the usual mix of Amtrak discounts.

This announcement caught me by surprise. Although there has been talk for years about a second daily Twin Cities – Chicago service, Amtrak, and the three states got it organized far faster than I would have predicted. It’s the most important Amtrak addition in years. Amtrak is pitching the train as “a more comfortable, sustainable and productive choice than driving,” not primarily as an alternative to flying. Still, it will be of particular value to folks at the intermediate stops.

I’m old enough to remember the glory days of the original Hiawathas, making the trip an hour faster than Borealis. But back then, the entire line was double track, and there were no 79 mph speed limits.

Borealis is a welcome addition to Amtrak’s timetable. It will be more reliable than the perennially-late Empire Builder because it isn’t dependent on congested freight lines west of Minneapolis. Way to go, Amtrak!

— Ed Perkins, editor

For more travel tips from Ed Perkins, see our companion site Ed on Travel

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