A proposed $31 billion acquisition involving two freight rail giants won't imperil plans to add a second daily passenger train trip between St. Paul and Chicago — and could mean that service will begin sooner than expected.

Plans call for a second round-trip Amtrak train between Union Depot in St. Paul and Union Station in Chicago to begin in 2024, largely using freight track owned by Canadian Pacific (CP) railway.

Canadian Pacific on Thursday secured Amtrak's support for its impending purchase of Kansas City Southern railway. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which is currently reviewing the proposed merger, will have the final say on whether it goes through. Amtrak will submit its favorable stance on the deal with the board, based on the newly announced agreement.

"We welcome CP's commitment to our efforts with states and others to expand Amtrak service and are pleased to have reached an agreement formalizing CP's support of Amtrak expansion in the Midwest and the South," said Amtrak President Stephen Gardner, in a news release.

Keith Creel, CP's president and CEO, said the Calgary-based railroad will continue to support Amtrak and its efforts to expand the reach of passenger rail nationwide, including the expansion of service between St. Paul and Chicago.

"We appreciate Amtrak's efforts to provide additional intercity passenger rail service that will benefit the people and economies of both Minnesota and Wisconsin," said Minnesota Transportation Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher, in a statement.

An Amtrak spokesman said Thursday because both sides agree on a common expansion strategy, the agreement could mean the service will begin sooner than 2024.

The second daily round trip between St. Paul and the Windy City is expected to "improve existing infrastructure and provide increased choice for residents traveling between some of our major cities — with stops in towns and cities of all sizes along the way," Anderson Kelliher added.

Last year, state lawmakers agreed to spend $10 million to support the effort, leveraging a $32 million federal grant along with $6.2 million from Wisconsin and $5 million from Amtrak.

Adding frequency on the route will supplement existing Amtrak service on the Empire Builder route, which connects Chicago to Seattle or Portland, Ore., via St. Paul, Minot, N.D., and Spokane, Wash.

Other projects covered by the CP agreement across the country include increased frequency of Amtrak's Hiawatha line between Chicago and Milwaukee, and passenger service through the Detroit River Tunnel between Michigan and Toronto through Windsor, Ont.

CP also pledged to work on establishing Amtrak service between New Orleans and Baton Route, La., and to study service linking Meridian, Miss. and Dallas.