The Northern Lights Express is already running out of steam

When the state legislature set aside $200 million in support of a passenger rail service between Duluth and Minneapolis earlier this year, a project known as the Northern Lights Express (sic), it was said that this would bring forth four times that amount in federal aid. “But,” the Duluth News Tribune reports, “the Northern Lights Express came up short in the latest round of allocations announced by the Federal Railroad Administration early Friday morning.”

While the scheme received “Corridor Identification funding to the tune of up to $500,000,” overall:

…the lion’s share of federal rail funding went to 10 projects that were awarded Federal-State Partnership Intercity Service grants totaling $8.2 billion. NLX advocates had aimed to be part of that elite, high-priority group. But they will have to wait their turn for a bigger piece of the pie, at least for now.

Back in May, when the state government decided to dump 200 million taxpayer dollars into this toilet of a scheme, I offered the small crumbs of comfort “that A) it will become a textbook example of why not to bother with these things in the first place and B) it will keep the train enthusiasts happy.” It is, however, still possible that we might largely dodge this bullet. If the scheme is skidding off the rails so early, there may yet be opportunities to shunt it into the sidings once and for all.