Empire Builder Moves to St. Paul Union Depot

For the first time in its 43-year history, Amtrak trains began stopping this week at St. Paul Union Depot.

Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman cut a ceremonial ribbon on Wednesday to make the occasion. The first Amtrak train to stop at SPUD was the westbound Empire Builder.

“Today in our nation, we tear every institution down and they begin to disintegrate,” said Boardman in his remarks to the crowd. “When we lose it, that’s when we understand the essential nature of institutions, be it rail passenger service, the postal service, even our military branches. These are the things that make this country a leader in the world. We need to make the right decisions for rebuilding our infrastructure, and our positive attitude — not the negative model that we quickly grab as a nation today.

“The reality of the United States is we need to think about rebuilding these things in a positive way. This community [St. Paul] has reclaimed its imperatives through a learning of the essential loss that you had. Thank you for bringing Amtrak to the St. Paul Union Depot.”

Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Administrator Karen Hedlund and local officials were on hand to inspect the new depot platform.

Amtrak P42DC No. 186, sleeper Pacific Cape, and Amtrak business car No. 10000 were on display. Boardman told Trains magazine that Amtrak would support the operation of a second Chicago-St. Paul train.

He said that once the new passenger cars ordered by several states enter service that Amtrak would have equipment available for the proposed service. Amtrak’s Midway Station in St. Paul saw its final train Wednesday afternoon when the eastbound Empire Builder arrived at 12:37 p.m. and departed at 12:54 p.m., more than five hours late.

Midway Station opened on March 1, 1978, to replace the Great Northern Station in downtown Minneapolis. Amtrak will continue to use the tracks at Midway Station for switching cars on and off the Empire Builder.

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