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MnDot moves forward with plans for Twin Cities-Milwaukee high-speed rail

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Last week, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced its intention to draft further plans for high-speed service along Amtrak's route between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee, the Business Journal reports.

The plan, which will take about a year to complete, includes track upgrades along Amtrak's Empire Builder route between the two cities to provide 110-mile-per-hour service.

The existing route hits a maximum of 79 miles per hour and makes only one round trip per day, although there's a study underway to add a second train to that route.

The high-speed service would allow six to eight round trips per day.

The journal reports Wisconsin pulled out of the planning initiative last year and isn't pitching in for the $1.2 million study split by Minnesota and the federal government. Minnesota is also spending $220,000 for related studies on track upgrades.

After he was elected in 2010, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker opted out of plans for a high-speed train between Milwaukee and Madison, which is not along the Empire Builder route.

But that's not stopping Minnesota from moving forward with plans for the Minneapolis/St. Paul-Milwaukee line.

“Political winds do change, and if they do we’ll have all the engineering ready to go," Dan Krom, Minnesota’s passenger rail director, told The Capital Times.

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