Neighborhood NewsPublic Interest

Come ride the Amtrak Borealis train to Chicago and points between

District Perspectives

Ramsey County Commissioner, District 5

On Tuesday, May 21, I was proud to welcome the Borealis Train to the Union Depot. Elected leaders, Amtrak staff and advocates spoke enthusiastically about how this new train will answer critical needs for our region.

Thanks to a partnership with Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, passengers will be able to board a second daily Amtrak train between St. Paul and Chicago, with new Borealis trains originating from St. Paul at midday and from Chicago in the midmorning. Because it originates at the Union Depot, it should be considerably more reliable for people heading to Chicago. Travelers seeking a more comfortable and productive choice than driving will have double the current rail options. 

Named for the shining lights in the northern night sky, adult coach fares start at $41 each way between St. Paul and Chicago, with special discounts available, making it a much less expensive way for travelers to get to Chicago without a car. The Borealis Train is expected to replace approximately 580,000 car miles annually, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Over 30 years, this equates to 17.4 million miles not driven.

The route of the new Amtrak Borealis.

The Borealis should also provide a boost to our local economy: The return on investment for every dollar spent on the Borealis Train is $2.44 in economic, environmental, safety and time saving benefits. This totals more than $159 million over 30 years. Tourists are a big part of this as nearly half of all Amtrak riders are tourists and they spend $200 a day in Minnesota, benefiting local businesses and communities. Investments in track and signal improvements will enhance passenger and freight rail efficiency but will also create jobs and stimulate regional economic growth.

Since that first ride, with hundreds celebrating at the Depot on May 21st, many have taken the trip and the reviews have been overwhelmingly supportive. Amtrak has received over 40,000 comments and 99% of them are positive. People cite the leg room, the dining car, the comfortable seats, and the views. I’m looking forward to my first trip, whether it’s a safe, inexpensive trip to Chicago or a quick, beautiful jaunt to Red Wing or Winona.

We look forward to welcoming visitors from across the corridor to explore the many events and opportunities our region has to offer. The Borealis Train is not just a transportation service; it’s a bridge to stronger communities, a healthier environment and a more vibrant economy.

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