Per the new Tier 1 study fact sheet
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/passengerrai ... -sheet.pdf
"The recommended alternative is for the TCMC service to operate as an extension of one of the existing seven Hiawatha service schedules. This alternative best meets the purpose and need for the project."
The linked earlier feasibility study assumed using Superliners.
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/passengerrai ... ort%20.pdf
It also included the following recommended schedules:
Westbound leaves Chicago at 9:25 am and arriving in
4:47 pm in St. Paul or 5:32 pm at Target Field in Minneapolis
Eastbound recommended departure from St. Paul recommended a 12:25 pm which would arrive in Chicago at 9:54 pm
The layover location for the train will be at the existing Amtrak Midway facility in Minnesota. Whether existing Hiawatha trains can do this schedule or an additional two trains will be needed I do not know, I am assuming a future Tier 2 EIS study would answer that detail.
As for the proposed state government subsidized HSR trains between Chicago and the Twin Cities, that died a few years ago when the Minnesota legislature refused to fund its' share of the EIS studies. That's why these new EIS studies to increase the frequency of the slower 79 mph trains arose.
Another potential HSR line bites the dust. This time, not even with higher speed trains going faster than 79 mph.
No doubt, a second frequency train along this corridor will help, but not as much as a true HSR line would. Which would you take, the existing train taking almost 8 hours over 410 rail miles or ?
410 miles / 70 mph average speed (110 mph max) = 5.8 hours
410 miles / 90 mph average speed = (150 mph max) = 4.5 hours
410 miles / 110 mph average speed (190 mph max) = 3.7 hours
At almost 8 hours, flying will still be the preferred choice for most passengers between Chicago and the Twin Cities.
For the staff, I am not sure Amtrak Long Distance trains is the correct sub forum this thread should be located. Sure, mentioning the Empire Builder in the title misleads, but the details of using an existing Hiawatha train set sort of kills that. This thread should be in the Amtrak Corridors sub forum, imho.