Minnesota Rail Plan Calls for 6 Stations, 4RTs

Planners of the proposed Northern Lights Express between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota, are planning six stations and four daily round-trips.

Stations would be located in Minneapolis, Coon Rapids, Cambridge, Hinkley, and Duluth in Minnesota; and in Superior, Wisconsin.

MinnesotaThe operating plan calls for trains to average 60 mph. The cost of the service is estimated at between $500 million to $600 million.

If the project receives federal funding, it could begin operating by 2020. Estimated annual ridership would be 780,000 to 800,000.

Planners are just now beginning to examine sites for stations, which will include a building platform, ticketing, waiting area, parking and multimodal access.

The Duluth station would be part of the North Shore Scenic Railroad in a newly-rebuilt waiting area. Superior is to receive a new station.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is discussing the operating plan with BNSF, which owns the tracks to be used by the trains.

MnDOT will conduct an environmental assessment, preliminary engineering, financial planning and create an implementation plan.

Those are slated to be finished by February 2017. The agency would then seek federal funding.

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