High Speed Rail Gains Speed in the Northland

By KBJR News 1

December 8, 2012 Updated Dec 8, 2012 at 6:45 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Much is being done about bringing the Northern Lights Express to Duluth.

Although the name might suggest a trip to the North Pole, it's actually a high speed rail system traveling between Duluth and the Twin Cities.

"Just try to get this thing moving as fast as we can," said Brian Downing, a member of the Minnesota Public Interest Group.

The project was one of 22 successful applicants picked in May of 2011 to receive a 5 million dollar grant from the U.S Department of Transportation.

The train also received 1.1 million dollars in funding from the federal railroad administration.

But money isn't the only thing backing NLX.

"I'll pound on the president's door, I'll pound on the transportation secretary's door, I'll pound on every member of that congress until we get this thing funded and get it moving," said Congressmen Rick Nolon.

Sharla Gardner, member of the Duluth City Council says, "I think you really hit the nail on the head when you talk about how important this is to people, to common regular people."

The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group and the Northern Lights Express Alliance have done research to see how this rail line would impact the community.

"We want to see systems be able to move people to their jobs, homes, appointments and entertainment in ways that are economical, efficient, and environmentally wise," said John Ongrao, Commissioner of the alliance.

A high speed rail system would provide commuters with a more energy efficient alternative and a less expensive one.

Jason Reid, a student at UMD who is going a research project about the rail system said, "We are very car oriented here, which is not bad, but bringing more projects like this that expand out from the dense areas of Minnesota to places like Duluth and the rule areas for more of a connected mass transit system could benefit us."

Organizers are hopeful the project will lead to more long term jobs here in the northland. In Duluth Kati Anderson reporting.

Taking the train to the twin cities from Duluth would take about 2 hours and fifteen minutes with three stops in between.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson
kanderson@kbjr.com