Northern Lights Express' cost reduced by half

The proposal for the Northern Lights Express (NLX) high-speed passenger rail project in Minnesota and Wisconsin could reduce typical operation costs by half.

The proposed project involves the Minneapolis-Duluth/Superior Passenger Rail Alliance, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The total cost of implementing the new system is now $500 million or $600 million. This price would pay for equipment, stations and track improvements, guaranteeing the daily, reliable and high-speed qualities of the passenger rail service.

Initially, costs were projected to be nearly $1 billion.

The new NLX passenger rail service will cover 152 miles of a current rail corridor that runs between Duluth and Minnesota. The rail corridor, which is part of BNSF Railway, will have four round trips on NLX every day. The speeds will reach approximately 90 miles an hour, making the trip in just two hours.

The project is estimated to be finished in 2020. Estimated ridership is projected to range between 700,000 to 750,000 trips for the first year. By 2040, estimates show that the ridership will rise to approximately 1 million trips.

The preliminary estimates show that the operational costs will reach approximately $17.5 million for every year within the first five years. Estimated revenue from the rail should pay for most of this figure.

Organizations in this Story

Minnesota Department of Transportation

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