Minnesota’s Northern Lights Express Service Approved for State Funding

Minnesota’s transportation bill has approved 195 million USD in funding for the Northern Light Express (NLX) passenger rail project from the Twin Cities to Duluth.

The Northern Lights Express is a proposed “higher-speed rail service” that would operate between Minneapolis and Duluth using approximately 152 miles of existing BNSF rail corridor.

Northern Lights Express
Once operational, the NXL would be the first passenger rail link to Duluth since Amtrak’s North Star service was discontinued in 1985

In addition to Minneapolis and Duluth, the NLX would stop in Coon Rapids, Cambridge, Hinckley and Superior, WI.

This service would be operated by Amtrak on BNSF tracks, providing four round trips a day at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour.

The environmental review and service development plan for this project was approved by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in early 2018.

Now, Minnesota Legislature has appropriated state funding for the project, providing the 20% local match required to pursue federal grants for the design work, construction and rolling stock purchases.

It is hoped that federal matching grants will fund the remaining 80% of this work, with the total expected to cost 779 million USD.

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