High-Speed Rail: worthy goal for the Iron Range

My big goal in life is to participate in the modernization of the Iron Range. We’ve got a lot of work to do and I’ve often said that our current “economic development” funds should be spent on infrastructure and community enhancement rather than endless incentives for private companies. I’ve already written plenty about the need for an affordable network of high-speed Internet on the Iron Range. This would provide new opportunities for e-commuters and new tech businesses. Today I’m charged up about high-speed rail.

The Duluth City Council voted down funding to continue studying a high-speed rail between Duluth and Minneapolis. However, there is still hope for the project, as evidenced by a Brandon Stahl story in today’s Duluth News-Tribune. The council will revisit the issue and I hope they fund the continued study. Critics point to the failures of rail travel in recent decades, but I believe those failures don’t reflect societal changes that are happening right now. Read this excerpt from Stahl’s story:

First, the older train line dropped riders off in a part of Minneapolis where they would have had to rent a car, take a cab or ride a bus. The new line would drop riders off at a central hub across from the new Twins stadium in downtown Minneapolis, connecting to light rail and other train lines that travel the Twin Cities area.

Higher train speeds would beat drive times to Minneapolis. The train would make up to eight round trips a day, and all train cars would be equipped with wireless Internet.

Most importantly, the train probably would make at least three stops: in Superior; in Hinckley, where the Grand Casino brings in 3 million to 4 million people a year; and in a northern Minneapolis suburb. Those riders would make the train feasible, the study says.

Travel time is now more than just traveling. A train ride like the one proposed is shorter than a drive to the Twin Cities and offers Internet access. This allows people to convert their current drive times into potential work time, which is a crucial efficiency in the modern economy.

Why am I so concerned about Duluth? Because high-speed rail to the Iron Range won’t happen until Duluth demonstrates feasibility. One day this state will be connected by a rail network that runs fast and clean. There will always be cars, but repetitive commuting between cities should begin converting to mass transit.


  1. You’ve hit on a subject that I adore. I’m fascinated by high-speed rail, and frustrated that Americans don’t realize how great it would be to have stuff like this all over the country.

    We have a similar situation here in Los Angeles. They’re having trouble building a high-speed rail line from L.A. to San Francisco. It would get people there in 2.5 hours, as opposed to the normal seven-hour drive. Keep spreading the good word, my friend.

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