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Governor Celebrates Amtrak’s New Borealis Trains PDF Print E-mail
Written by GOV Press Wisconsin   
Tuesday, 21 May 2024 13:56

amtrak-borealis-trainsGov. Evers, WisDOT Officials to Join Inaugural Trip across three Midwest States.

LA CROSSE — Gov. Tony Evers today, as the Evers Administration celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week, will join the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), Amtrak, and federal, state, and local leaders in La Crosse to celebrate the launch of the first new passenger rail train in over 20 years in Wisconsin. The Borealis train service doubles passenger rail options along a corridor that connects many businesses, universities, tourist attractions, and communities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. In celebration of this milestone event, communities across Wisconsin will host celebrations as the Borealis passes through on its first route, including La Crosse, Tomah, Portage, Columbus, and Milwaukee. In his 2023-25 biennial budget, Gov. Evers proposed more than $3.5 million to support the implementation of a second daily round-trip passenger train between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, and Chicago. The final budget, as enacted by Gov. Evers, included $971,200 for the new Borealis route. 

tony-evers“After years of disinvestment in the transportation system and missed opportunities for passenger rail in Wisconsin, our state was long overdue for a new train service to meet travelers’ demand for a safe, efficient, and sustainable way to get where they need to go,” said Gov. Evers. “This new rail will provide countless opportunities for economic growth and for visitors and locals alike to find their next Wisconsin adventure and experience communities across our state, and we are thrilled that through hard work and public and private collaboration, we were finally able to make this happen. This is only the beginning of our work to expand passenger rail in Wisconsin as we continue our work to build the 21st-century infrastructure Wisconsinites have long deserved.”

The state-sponsored rail line stretches from St. Paul to Chicago with eight stops in Wisconsin: La Crosse, Tomah, Wisconsin Dells, Portage, Columbus, Milwaukee, the Milwaukee airport, and Sturtevant. The addition of the Borealis train is a result of years of collaboration between Amtrak, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC).

“We’re thrilled to celebrate this long-awaited service in Wisconsin and we’re grateful for the strong partnerships that made the Borealis trains possible,” said WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson. “The excitement we’re seeing in these communities demonstrates the support for more passenger rail options in Wisconsin. WisDOT is invested in finding more opportunities to expand passenger rail as we continue to build a modern, reliable transportation system that meets the needs of all our users now and into the future.”

Borealis will provide more reliable service for passengers traveling through Wisconsin, including commuters, families, students, and tourists. State and federal funding supported infrastructure improvements to ready the rail line for the additional service.

“Building a new service with three states takes patience, cooperation, and vision, and Wisconsin helped lead the way, backed by strong support from Gov. Evers and both chambers of the state legislature,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. “This is a success story. It is keeping the promise we made in 2022 here in La Crosse to start this service in 2024. And we are looking forward to doing more events like this in the months and years to come with partners all over the U.S.”

The addition of the Borealis is just the beginning of passenger rail expansion in Wisconsin. WisDOT’s Corridor Investment and Development (Corridor ID) program is exploring the feasibility of new or improved intercity passenger rail services in the state, leveraging funding opportunities made available in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Future studies are anticipated for corridors that WisDOT is analyzing in more detail. Future studies are anticipated for additional corridors within the state.

In Wisconsin five Corridor ID grants have been selected for funding by the FRA. Step one of the studies begins this summer:

  • Chicago–Milwaukee;
  • Milwaukee–Madison–Eau Claire–Twin Cities;
  • Hiawatha Extension to Green Bay (Chicago–Milwaukee–Green Bay);
  • Twin Cities–Milwaukee–Chicago (this would be for a second Borealis frequency, also via La Crosse);
  • Eau Claire–Twin Cities (project sponsored by Eau Claire County)

Visit the Amtrak website for more information on the Borealis route, schedule, and service.

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