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Amtrak Debuts Borealis Route

The train company welcomed the new route between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Chicago, Illinois, in late May

By Amanda Christensen

Representatives from Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the state of Minnesota came together in late May to celebrate the beginning of the new Borealis Amtrak route further connecting Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. The trains will depart from St. Paul midday and from Chicago in late morning, offering travelers the choice of coach and business class alongside a cafe car serving regional food and drink items. The new service is sponsored by the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

Attendees of the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Borealis Amtrak route debut. June 19, 2024
Attendees of the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Borealis Amtrak route debut || Courtesy of Amtrak

“The name ‘Borealis’ is the result of a collaborative process led by state partners,” says Marc Magliari, senior public relations manager of Amtrak government affairs and corporate communications. He notes that the name comes from the Latin word for “northern.”

The route will go to and from St. Paul (originating at the Union Depot) and Chicago through Milwaukee, Wisconsin; making the same stops as the current Empire Builder route between St. Paul and Milwaukee (in Red Wing and Winona, Minnesota; and in La Crosse, Tomah, Wisconsin Dells, Portage, and Columbus, Wisconsin); as well as the same stops currently along the Hiawatha route between Milwaukee and Chicago (at Milwaukee Airport and Sturtevant station in Wisconsin; and in Glenview, Illinois). The Borealis train route will provide passengers with gorgeous daytime views of the Mississippi River between St. Paul and La Crosse alongside ample legroom, free Wi-Fi, and no middle seats.

Image of the Amtrak train for the inaugural run of the new Borealis route. June 19, 2024
Amtrak train for the inaugural run of the new Borealis route || Courtesy of Amtrak

Borealis coach fares start at $41 each way for adults, with discounts available for children, students, seniors, veterans, military personnel, families, and groups. “Amtrak has group discounts for [parties] numbering 15 and higher,” adds Magliari. “Other fare promotions are available for up to eight passengers who are traveling together.”

Traveling by train is a relaxing and sustainable alternative to driving or flying and the ability to get a group on one train at the same time can ease a planner’s to-do list—and as Magliari puts it: “Windshield time is wasted time. On Amtrak, you have the choice of being productive on your device, being entertained, or doing nothing at all while traveling from downtown to downtown without airport hassles or driving difficulties.” It doubles as both a mode of transportation and a sightseeing excursion for attendees—adding memories pre- and post-meeting.