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Our View: All aboard?

News that county commissioners and others are looking at the possibility of a commuter train between Duluth and the Twin Cities inspires great joy at this newspaper.

News that county commissioners and others are looking at the possibility of a commuter train between Duluth and the Twin Cities inspires great joy at this newspaper.

And why wouldn't it?

Interstate 35 is congested most of the time, except in the middle of the night, so the drive is more stressful than it was years ago.

Gas costs are up and look to remain that way. Gone are the days of gas at less than $1 a gallon.

Then there's the pollution factor. Driving a car is -- for most people, anyway -- probably the most polluting thing the average citizen does. Our country is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases worldwide. We can point our finger at industry, but the fact is, there are ways individuals can make a difference.

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Besides, why sit behind the wheel of your car, worrying about deer in the road and drunk drivers when you can sit on a train and read a book, play video games, work on your computer or chat on the phone -- guilt free? You can even have an alcoholic beverage before you get on the train and still be a responsible citizen.

It's a win-win for the people taking the train, that's for sure.

It's also a winner for all of the Northland. Tourism will go up. More tourists means more money.

The St. Louis County Board of Commissioners is well aware of the benefits such a train could have on the entire region, and they should be commended for being willing to put some money into a communal pot to fund a $350,000 feasibility study. Other partners include the Lake County Regional Rail Authority, the city of Duluth, the St. Louis County Economic Development committee, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, as well as Anoka and Hennepin counties.

There is potentially even better political news at the Federal level. Congressman Jim Oberstar is a huge supporter -- he's actually credited with coming up with the idea -- and he just happens to serve on the House Transportation Committee.

Yes, it's just an idea now.

Yes, it won't be easy to raise the funds to make a commuter train a reality, even though most of the rail lines already exist, so the project would be considerably less expensive than creating something entirely new.

But it's a great concept.

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Citizens can do their part to make sure the train becomes a reality by keeping abreast of what's happening, and attending the public meetings (when the time comes) to show their support. Too many things are derailed because the audience is filled with naysayers with a personal axe to grind.

After all, how many things are good for both the environment and the economy?

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