Amtrak's arrival tonight opens new era at St. Paul's Union Depot

Amtrak train
An Amtrak train waits at the platform at Union Depot in St. Paul, Minn. Wednesday, May 7, 2014. The first arrival of a passenger train since the renovation of Union Depot is scheduled for Wednesday evening.
Jeffrey Thompson/MPR News

Amtrak trains will pull into St. Paul's restored Union Depot Wednesday night, bringing passenger rail service downtown for the first time since 1971.

Trains will make a stop as part of Amtrak's daily service between Chicago and Seattle. Officials hope the downtown service will draw enough passengers to add another daily train between St. Paul and Chicago.

•Related: At Union Depot, a celebration of a failed transportation option

Ramsey County, the federal government and other funders spent more than $240 million the past few years to restore the train station. Buses stop there every day now. The Green Line light rail will run in front of the building starting next month.

"What you achieved here at Union Depot shows us what's possible," Federal Railroad Administration deputy administrator Karen Hedlund said Wednesday.

"Imagine what that could mean for Minnesota, where planning is underway to connect the Twin cities with Duluth, with Rochester, with Milwaukee," she added.

When a passenger arrives at Union Depot, "they can get connected anywhere in the region," said Jim McDonough, a Ramsey County commissioner who helped guide the restoration.

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