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Not so fast: MnDOT suspends Zip Rail project as private group shows interest

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Minnesota's transportation agency has suspended work on the proposed high-speed train from the Twin Cities to Rochester.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation made the announcement Wednesday, saying it's holding off work on the Zip Rail, pending action from the Olmsted County Regional Railroad Authority next week.

The agency and the county had teamed up to explore the feasibility of a publicly funded high-speed rail line between the two metropolitan areas, the release notes.

But now the county board is considering a resolution that would suspend work on the Zip Rail project "for the indefinite future" because there are private-sector efforts to build an elevated high-speed rail line in southeastern Minnesota, the Rochester Post Bulletin says.

In the announcement, MnDOT says it has issued permits to Minnesota-based North American High Speed Rail Group, which will begin a feasibility study to connect the Twin Cities and Rochester with a privately funded high-speed train.

MnDOT notes the project is "initially much different" than the proposed Zip Rail line. The Rochester Post Bulletin says the rail group plans to tie commercial development to the rail line, noting this would be the first privately funded rail line in North America.

The Zip Line plan has drawn opposition from both politicians and those who live along the proposed route, reports note.

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