Updated: 03/26/2014 11:21 PM
Created: 03/26/2014 11:17 PM WDIO.com
By: Zach Hammer
Bringing tourism into the Northland from the Twin Cities via high-speed rail is still a few years off, but the proposed Northern Lights Express project is still chugging forward, slowly but surely.
The train will be anything but slow, reaching top speeds of 110 miles per hour.
But there's still work to be done before passengers can zip back and forth along the I-35 corridor.
Project officials are now working on a "ridership forecast" using data from a recently completed online survey to determine how many people would take advantage of a railway between the Twin Cities and Duluth.
And what they're seeing from that survey is an incredible amount of interest.
"We have similar surveys from different parts of the country, but we wanted to do the survey in Minnesota, in the corridor," Northern Lights Express Project Manager Francis E Loetterle explained Wednesday. "We got extraordinarily good response from this, I would say that we got about three times the number of surveys completed that we really needed. Every additional survey just makes things a little bit more reliable."
Data from the ridership forecast is expected to be released by mid-July.
If the funding is available at the right time for the $1 billion dollar project, Loetterle says the first passengers could board by 2018.
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