Twin Cities - Superior - Duluth

Population Served

3,788,000

Without Twin Cities

293,000

Route

MnDOT has completed all studies for Twin Cities to Duluth service. All studies have been approved by regulatory bodies, and the service is now what is called "shovel ready." This means that if funding is allocated, infrastucture work can begin to enable passenger train service on this line, which is owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. MnDOT estimates that it would cost between $350-420M for the infrastucture work which would include new ADA compliant stations, grade crossing work, signaling, and track improvements to enable 90 mph or greater running speeds that is compatible with freight train service. The service is designed to be competitive with driving times, and is estimated to draw 700,000 riders per year. Th service is called the “Northern Lights Express” (NLX). The plans call for four round-trips between the Twin Ports and Minneapolis, serving online communities of Hinckley, Cambridge and Fridley.

Presently, none of the daily trains are planned to serve St. Paul. All Aboard Minnesota is currently working with MnDOT to study a dedicated passenger rail line between Minneapolis, and St. Paul, which would enable NLX to serve both downtowns.

Rep Mary Murphy has introduced two bills in the 2022 legislature to fund NLX. The bills - HF 2682 - calls for $85M in general funds which could be included in a Transportation Omnibus bill, or HF 2681 which includes $85M in bonding funds to be included in a bonding bill. The two bills, either of which is passed, would enable the state to apply for federal matching funds to complete the project. You can learn more about NLX by Clicking Here

April Updates 2022 - Mary Murphy's bill for $85M in general funds has been included in the House Transportation Omnibus bill, which now goes to the conference committee. The conference committee will iron out the detail differences between the House and Senate versions of the Transportation bills, then it goes to the Governor, Speaker Melissa Hortman, and Majority Leader Jeremy Miller who will make the final decisions. If approved, NLX is on its way to begin service and it's a huge win for Minnesotans!

For the latest status and information, the NLX Alliance has published two new documents, an overview flyer, and a "myth buster" FAQ document, click on the two links below:

Overview flyer

NLX myth busters

The NLX service would greatly build out the MnDOT state rail plan, and allow for connectivity from the current Amtrak Empire Builder service, and the 2nd Train Frequency from the Twin Cities to Chicago.