Following meeting with Chinese, Mayor says rail proposal 'could be the real deal'
A group of local leaders met this week with a Chinese delegation considering investing in a high-speed rail line connecting the Twin Cities and Rochester.
Representatives from China Railway Corporation, the country's national railway operator, gave a presentation showing some examples of high-speed rail projects in use in their home country.
Mayor Ardell Brede called the meeting "impressive" and said the group behind the proposal, Minnesota-based North American High Speed Rail Group, was "very close" to moving forward with additional studying of the project.
"This could be the real deal," said Brede. "They're very serious."
Among those who joined Brede for the private meeting were representatives from the City of Rochester, Olmsted County, Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce and the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Chinese delegation also met separately with civic leaders in the Twin Cities.
Initial plans from North American call for the construction of a $4.2 billion elevated rail line along U.S. 52 between Bloomington and Rochester. The hop-on points could be the airports in each city, Brede said. Speeds could reach more than 200 miles per hour, making for a ride time of about a half hour.
Additional meetings between the rail group and local leaders are expected to be scheduled in coming months, according to Brede. Earlier this year, the Minnesota Department of Transportation suspended work on the proposed Zip Rail project, essentially putting an end to a decade-long push to publicly fund a high-speed rail line connecting Rochester with the Twin Cities.
North American plans to fund the project without any public investment. If completed, it would be the first high-speed rail project in the U.S. to do so using private money. Long-term plans call for connecting the rail line to Chicago.
(Cover photo: File / Taiwan / Michael Chen)