Clarification: High-speed rail studies ongoing, free from politicsNorthern Lights Express is one of at least six potential new passenger-service corridors that are being methodically studied and evaluated, and MnDOT recognizes the vital and significant place that the Twin Ports has in the region.
By: Dave Christianson, Budgeteer News
In his Aug. 30 columnist, Virgil Swing made some misleading comments about high-speed rail in Duluth.
A few clarifying notes are offered, as the Minnesota Department of Transportation is working to develop a comprehensive statewide rail plan (scheduled to be finished by Dec. 31).
Northern Lights Express is one of at least six potential new passenger-service corridors that are being methodically studied and evaluated. We recognize the vital and significant place that the Twin Ports has in the region, and we are working to include them in a rapidly emerging national initiative for high-speed rail.
As Swing stated, a high-speed train carrying a modest amount of passengers has the potential to be a waste of taxpayer dollars. That is a key driver of our extensive analysis, as are our future needs for improved transportation in the state.
MnDOT did not intend for these preliminary reports to be seen as debunking NLX numbers, especially since basic assumptions on speed, frequency and price are different. Much more study on all corridors is still going on. However, both studies assume use of the current BNSF route, and both suggest a significant growth in travel by train for this corridor versus 1985 — the last time a state-sponsored train was operated.
This process to develop a state rail plan has been notably free of political pressure from all quarters, at the direction of legislative leaders. MnDOT’s efforts will continue to move ahead with a transparent, balanced and technically robust process. Toward that end, another open house will be held in Duluth Oct. 15 to share the plan’s system proposals and vision with the public and to get input for the final phase of development.
Dave Christianson is project manager for the Minnesota Comprehensive Statewide Freight and Passenger Rail Plan. He can be reached at (651) 366-3710 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Editor’s note: Christianson submitted this piece to clarify certain points in Swing’s column; Christianson was not taking a position on the issue. Don’t know what he’s talking about? Read Swing’s by clicking on "High-Speed Rail Makes Sense, But Not to Duluth."