Planners cut costs in order to make Minneapolis-to-Duluth rail link a reality

December 19, 2015

By John Lundy, Forum News Service, in the St. Paul Pioneer Press

A little more than four years from now, state-of-the-art passenger trains could be traveling between the Twin Ports and the Twin Cities four times a day, bringing riders to Target Field Station in 2 1/2 hours for a fare of between $30 and $32.Website Insert State Supported Passenger Trains copy

That was the vision presented on Wednesday as advocates for passenger rail presented a scaled-down version of the sidetracked and long-dreamed-of Northern Lights Express rail connection.

“I’m pleased to say that I’ve moved from cautiously to enthusiastically optimistic,” said St. Louis County Commissioner Steve Raukar, the chairman of the NLX Passenger Rail Alliance, during a news conference at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth.

The primary reason: a reduced price tag, from an estimated $1 billion in 2009 to between $500 million to $600 million today, according to Frank Loetterie, project manager in the passenger rail office for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which is now the project’s lead agency.

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