by CESAR SALAZAR
Winona could see a second Amtrak train start service by the end of the year, according to a Minnesota Department of Transportation newsletter. Construction of several rail infrastructure improvements for the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Project (TCMC) is slated to begin in the summer of 2024.
Amtrak’s TCMC aims to add a second passenger train service between Chicago and the Twin Cities to the existing 411-mile along the Empire Builder train route, which includes Winona. The project would add many upgrades to the existing train infrastructure, which would accommodate the second train.
Amtrak developers plan to add around $22 million in upgrades to train infrastructure at two parts of Winona: Tower CK and the Winona Siding portions in the north and south of the city respectively.
In the Tower CK portion — a historical train junction near Westfield Golf Course — the plan would be to construct new track to connect to the mainline track of the Canadian Pacific Railway Waseca Subdivision, add power switches and railroad signals for more efficient train movements, minimize freight and passenger train passing conflicts, and make at-grade crossing modifications to Bierce Street and Prairie Island Road.
At the Winona Siding portion, Amtrak plans to rehabilitate two miles of the existing siding track, replace manual switches with two power turnouts and railroad signals for more efficient train movements, and make at-grade crossing improvements.
Previously, engineers said construction on the TCMC project could start as early as the summer of this year. However, according to a project newsletter, the project is slated to start in 2024, with no specific dates on when the project would start. While the newsletter also added that the second train service could begin before the end of 2023, it did not give any specific dates.
The TCMC project newsletter presented a schedule for the trains in Winona, with an eastbound train arriving at 1:39 p.m. and a westbound train arriving at 4:19 p.m.
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