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Second daily Amtrak train, called Borealis, begins service to La Crosse

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An Amtrak train drew a large crowd to the La Crosse railroad station on Tuesday, for that train’s first-ever stop in the city. The Borealis passenger train arrived at the north-side depot around mid-afternoon.

Borealis becomes the second current Amtrak train to have La Crosse on its daily schedule, along with the Empire Builder.

Amtrak passengers and invited guests wait for the new train to arrive in La Crosse on Tuesday

Governor Tony Evers joined other elected officials at the depot to welcome the increase in area passenger rail service, calling himself a “train guy.” The governor noted that 22 years had passed since the last time passenger rail was expanded in Wisconsin.

Also, Mayor Mitch Reynolds said the effort to get two trains to serve La Crosse has been years in the making.

“Community members that I represent get to go places, and get to see things, and get to be a part of the celebrations of their friends and family,” said Reynolds. “I’m just ecstatic that this is happening.”

Evers was among a group of dignitaries who boarded the Borealis in La Crosse for a short eastward trip to the next regular stop, in Tomah. It took a few tries to cut through the Amtrak ribbon with the large ceremonial scissors.

The eastbound Borealis comes toward the La Crosse depot on May 21st, 2024

The train was a little late, arriving a few minutes beyond the scheduled arrival time of 2:16 p.m. The depot was crowded with travelers and train-lovers, including Ed Kamrowski, who worked as a local railroad agent, dating back to the 60’s. Asked what he remembers about work at the depot, Kamrowski said “most of the time was watching people enjoying what they were doing, especially if I was helping them make plans for a long journey.”

Former state legislator Jennifer Shilling also recalls that area leaders spent years going to Madison, trying to get that second train.

The westbound Borealis arrives in La Crosse just before 4 p.m. Meanwhile, the eastbound Empire Builder departs La Crosse at 11:37 in the morning, and the westbound train arrives around 8 p.m.


A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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  1. Pingback: Borealis Startup Causes Celebrations | Wisconsin Association of Railroad Passengers

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