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Union Depot prepares for return of Amtrak passenger trains

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Tests are being held in preparation for the return of Amtrak passenger trains to St. Paul's Union Depot, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

Railroad signals and light switches are expected to be tested by construction crews over the next few weeks. Crews Monday pulled together the final 150-foot section of track that will connect Amtrak passenger trains to platforms at Union Depot.

Dan Krom, the passenger rail director for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, likens the construction to the rebuilding of a road.

"You've got to make sure that traffic can get on and off the road," Krom tells MPR.

Once the Union Depot construction is officially completed, the Amtrak train stop will be moving from St. Paul's Midway Station.

Amtrak's move to the Union Depot was expected to happen after the hub underwent a dramatic $243 million renovation and reopened to the public in December of 2012.

The Pioneer Press says federal funding for improvements to the Union Depot tracks increased from $9.13 million to $14.75 million in May.

The Union Depot stop for the Empire Builder Amtrak train is expected to open for business after Thanksgiving, although an official launch date has not yet been announced.

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