Rail backers present Paine with award for NLX support

A group that supports the proposed Northern Lights Express project gathered Monday to thank Superior Mayor Jim Paine for his support.

Appropriately enough, the gathering was on a rail car.

All Aboard Wisconsin presented Paine with its Outstanding Leadership Award in a ceremony aboard the North Shore Scenic Railroad in Duluth. The group’s legislative director, Gary Goyke, said a member of the group nominated Paine after seeing him speak about the NLX in a State of the City speech.

"We give out awards very sparingly, but we do recognize and value local political leadership. A lot of rail depends on having good local officials," Goyke said.

Paine has talked about the NLX in all three of his State of the City addresses. He has backed the project since his time serving on the Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council, which looks at transportation issues in the Twin Ports area.

"Even then I tried to be as vocal and passionate as I could about the benefits of passenger rail for every single citizen. For people who have huge economic barriers and cannot even afford a car the ability to access other places, to go to the places like the Twin Cities, and from there to access the entire United States," Paine said.

The first planned stop on the NLX route from Duluth to Minneapolis is in Superior.

"We need customers, we need residents, we need employees. Passenger rail can deliver all of them effectively and efficiently," Paine said.

Besides that, Paine said, trains are cool and fun to ride.