Have you ever wondered: Why doesn't Sioux Falls have Amtrak service?

Published: Oct. 17, 2017 at 1:19 PM CDT
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Wyoming and South Dakota are the only two states in the contiguous U.S. that don't have Amtrak service. The passenger railroad system has been looked at by Sioux Falls officials before. But it's been about seven years since Sam Trebilcock looked at the service for Sioux Falls. Trebilcock is the transportation planner for the city.

"But now, I think because of the expense of it, it's something that isn't on the front burner or anything," Trebilcock said.

He didn't know exactly how much something like Amtrak would cost, but he said it would be expensive.

"A lot of it is going to be upgrading the rail corridors that you have. You can't just put passenger rails as I understand it onto a freight rail corridor," he said.

Upgrading the current rail system would be an expense, and Trebilcock said the city would have to prove itself for a provider like Amtrak.

"You'd need to be able to show that you're going to have the ridership it's going to take to make that work," he said.

For those reasons, he said it hasn't been looked at seriously. Even though it's on the back-burner in South Dakota, Minnesota officials did a study several years ago on Amtrak. They looked at the service possibly coming about six miles away from Sioux Falls.

"But it was kind of a lower priority," Trebilcock said. "Certainly some of the more highly traveled corridors, highly populated corridors, would be looked at first."

He said Minnesota officials are focusing more on a service to Chicago at this point. Sioux Falls wouldn't realistically be looked at by Minnesota until about 30 to 40 years from now. Trebilcock said a system like Amtrak would be beneficial for the city. But Sioux Falls would need to be connected to destinations that would matter to riders, like Minneapolis or Omaha.