The most obvious option is to just follow Amtrak’s current line, stopping in Winona, Red Wing, and ultimately St. Paul. But Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic and Minnesota’s 3rd largest city (not a particularly amazing feat considering that St. Paul and Minneapolis basically count as one), is scrambling to get the line rerouted in its favor.This is the same Rochester that objects to additional freight trains on the Winona and St. Peter. It is at the south end of a twisty, long-abandoned Chicago Great Western branch that connects, sort of, to the Twin Cities. It was on the Dakota 400 line from west of the Missouri River to Chicago, a line with some potential to relieve congestion on the Powder River lines and introduce competition at the same time, a line with a history of fast running.
To route the Chicago - Twin Cities service in such a way as to pick up all the major online communities is to satisfy nobody. On the other hand, to provide a network with frequent direct trains and dependable connections (the Germans place too much trust in their timekeeping; a two-hour minimum in Chicago is ridiculous) will make each corridor more useful. Consider a network consisting of Chicago - Madison - Portage - LaCrosse - Rochester, Chicago - Milwaukee - Portage - LaCrosse - St. Paul, possibly continuing to St. Cloud, Fargo, and Grand Forks (avoiding Madison, connecting at Portage or LaCrosse with the Rochester line), Chicago - Milwaukee - Madison (running downtown), Chicago - Milwaukee - Fox Cities - Green Bay, and Rochester - St. Paul - Superior - Duluth. Memory pattern headways, and fifteen minute timetabled connections (just long enough to grab a coffee at the station, with sufficient margin for a bit of late running.) The first line provides the Olympic service, if required, for Madison, the second is the current Midwest high speed proposal, without the jog to Madison, the third provides the intra-Wisconsin corridor service, the fourth puts back what was a pretty decent corridor almost up to 1970, and the fifth links all the major cities of eastern Minnesota, with Wisconsin passengers going directly to the Cities and Rochester passengers not at the mercy of loading or timekeeping further east.