• NLX Northern Lights Express HSR MN Duluth-Twin Cities

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by mtuandrew
Moderator Note: Keep in mind, this thread is for current proposals for Twin Cities to Twin Ports rail only, specifically the government-funded Northern Lights Express. Unless there’s a privately-backed rail proposal analogous to Zip Rail (MSP-Rochester) that I’m unaware of - not just ideas in our heads - we’re done with that side topic.
  by Pensyfan19
retraced (thanks for moving that link into a new topic)
  by Pensyfan19
It is with great sadness to report that the proposed Northern Lights Express between St. Paul and Duluth is officially dead, as it was rejected $80 million in funding by a Minnesota Senator who compared funding the route to funding "buggy whips".
I can't help but feel that this showcases the flaws of state/federally operated passenger service, since an anti-rail politician can easily cancel the project based on flawed viewpoints. Furthermore, privately owned companies such as Brightline are not subject to this political backlog and can gain much more funding from the private sector.

https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews ... -proposal/
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota’s state Senate has blocked efforts to launch passenger rail service between the Twin Cities and Duluth, passing a budget amendment by a senator who said the idea was “like asking us to spend money on buggy whips.”

Minnesota Public Radio reports the amendment by Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound, Minn.) prohibits the state transportation commissioner and the Metropolitan Council, the governing body for the Twin Cities region, from spending any money on the proposed Northern Lights Express.

The amendment passed by a 35-31 vote; a larger funding bill then passed 40-26.
  by eolesen
Oh no, what will the dozens of potential weekly riders do?....

This is hardly unexpected if you follow Minnesota politics. It's essentially a red state with a couple of blue pockets, and there's no appetite for trains to run between the blue pockets...
  by Bob Roberts
eolesen wrote: Tue May 03, 2022 6:51 pm This is hardly unexpected if you follow Minnesota politics. It's essentially a red state with a couple of blue pockets, and there's no appetite for trains to run between the blue pockets...
Another, equally valid, way to say this is: Minnesota is a blue state that has red voters spread thinly around the periphery. This decision shows that the minority, mostly rural, party is disproportionately represented in St. Paul.

MSP + Duluth account for 76% of Minnesota’s economic output and 69% of the state’s population. Not working to provide these “blue pockets” with sustainable transportation options harms all Minnesotans.
  by Jeff Smith
https://www.kare11.com/amp/article/news ... 059e271805
Passenger train between Twin Cities and Duluth could restart, if funding comes through

MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time in nearly four decades, an Amtrak passenger train between the Twin Cities and Duluth may resume if state lawmakers approve a share of funding during this spring's legislative session.

Known as the "Northern Lights Express," the rail line would follow existing BNSF tracks along a 152-mile corridor, starting at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis and ending in Duluth at the St. Louis County Depot near the shores of Lake Superior. The route would include stops in Coon Rapids, Cambridge, Hinckley, and Superior, Wis., and would take more than two hours to complete.

The train would also operate four times a day round-trip, costing between $30 to $35 each way.
  by eolesen
The state has a huge surplus and could launch this. Yet they don't.
  by ryanwc
The chair of the relevant Senate committee says he supports it. That may or may not mean it'll pass, but it seems silly to dismiss it with the sneer that it hasn't been funded so far.

It's certainly not "a transportation alternative that will literally change everything," as a Duluth advocate is quoted.

But as Amtrak plans go, the idea of a 4-round trip service running at max speeds of 90mph and averaging 60 mph is pretty ambitious and not uncompelling.

I fear the 100k people of Duluth/Superior aren't a weighty anchor. Advocates counter that this is conceived as a commuter and regional route. Maybe. Commuter habits take a while to establish, and post-covid is a perilous time to place that bet.

How much freight runs on this line? Little enough that 4 round-trips can be kept on time?

If I were in the new MN legislative majority, particularly the 1-seat margin in the Senate, I'm not sure I'd bet my seat on this. I wouldn't describe MN as a red or blue state, but as a state where anti-Trumpism is slightly stronger than anti-wokism. The goal is to avoid making marginal voters angrier than they already are at you. But it's naive to dismiss the train's chances out of hand in a Dem-held environment. And I don't think an in-state Amtrak service has much capacity to inspire new anti-DFL votes, so there may not be a big political price.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Trust many here are aware, if not reported earlier within the topic, that this is a former Amtrak-era route.

The train was named The Arrowhead, and I rode such during November '74. After having rode overnight on the Empire Builder (yes youngsters, for a while such was on a schedule emulating that of the Western Star with a 1030P Chicago departure), I rode the Arrowhead. Its conventional (Heritage in laterspeak) equipment included a Dome-obs (a Bengstonized former Q DZ "Silver Chateau" as I recall). It was a "party train" all the way up to a frigid Duluth - and even more on the way back.

But I was 33yo back then, and a "bit more into" the partying scene than at present. If I made such a journey today, I'd just be in a Coach seat "for the duration".
  by Bob Roberts
The Northern Lights Express is now fully funded ($194.7 million) by the state.
Under the current plan, NLX would use 152 miles of existing BNSF Railway track and connect Target Field in downtown Minneapolis to the St. Louis County Depot in Duluth. Stops are planned in Coon Rapids, Cambridge, Hinckley and Superior, Wisconsin.

Sections of track would be built alongside the main route so the passenger trains could move out of the way as freight trains move through. Passenger trains would travel about 90 mph along the route.
https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/ ... udget-deal
  by eolesen
They've come up with the state portion, but are the 80% Federal funds guaranteed or subject to award?

I'm sure that MN will rank high on the political favors list but is this really the best business case out there for a new corridor?

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by Jeff Smith
Legislature approves: https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/minnesota/n ... struction/
New daily train line between Twin Cities and Duluth is set for construction

MINNEAPOLIS -- A passenger train from the Twin Cities to Duluth and back is now set to become a reality. In this session's transportation bill, Minnesota lawmakers approved nearly $200 million for the project, unlocking federal funds that will cover the remainder of the project.

The captivating beauty of Minnesota's North Shore is set to become even more accessible with the Northern Lights Express. The line goes from the Twin Cities to the Twin Ports, with stops in Minneapolis, Coon Rapids, Cambridge, Hinckley, and Superior, Wisconsin.
The train will go 90 mph and make four round trips per day. A one-way trip from Minneapolis to Duluth would cost from $30 to $35 and take about two and a half hours.
The line will use some existing BNSF Railway tracks that aren't in use, speeding up the timeline and lowering startup costs. It's estimated the line will be ready for service in about four or five years.
  by electricron
Elapse time of two and a half hours to travel ~150 miles only averages ~60 mph.
Why does Amtrak keep suggesting starting a new passenger train service with so slow speeds?
I read 90 mph max speeds in that article, but for how long?
  by markhb
I am guessing that 1) the feeling is that some trains are better than no trains, and 2) the cost to upgrade these tracks to Class 6 or better is more than the state would want to shoulder. (Are you even allowed to do Class 6 or better without concrete ties? And is the lessened durability of those concrete ties in the north worth it if you don't have the service density of the NEC?)
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