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Anoka County pulls out of Duluth/Twin Cities passenger train planning alliance

It’s unclear whether Anoka County’s surprise decision will hurt the project’s chances.

Anoka County’s surprise decision to withdraw from the planning process for returning passenger rail service between Duluth and Minneapolis may hurt the project’s chances, some say.

Others don’t think it matters.

The Anoka County Regional Rail Authority contributes 15 percent of the budget for the Northern Lights Express alliance, the planning group working to establish the train line. Tuesday’s 4-3 vote to pull out came as a majority of commissioners decided to concentrate on the North Star commuter rail line.

Matt Look, chairman of Anoka County’s regional rail authority and an opponent of the Northern Lights project, thinks this is curtains for the Duluth line, according to the Pioneer Press:

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“We are an integral part of the completion of that line. Us pulling out I think will, ultimately, kill it,” he said.

But Bob Manzoline, the alliance executive director, said it won’t, reports ABC Newspapers:

“We are disappointed by the rail authority’s action, but the project will continue,” Manzoline said.

The plan calls for a train traveling up to 110 mph. running between Minneapolis and Duluth/Superior; the 155-mile trip would take about two hours and 15 minutes.

Federal and state funding is available for preliminary engineering work, to begin this summer. One of the proposed stations for the line likely would be in Coon Rapids or Fridley, which are both in Anoka County.