A private rail developer is meeting with a Chinese delegation and Minnesota business leaders to drum up support for high-speed passenger trains from the Twin Cities to Rochester.
Minnesota-based North American High Speed Rail Group will share details about the "consortia" next week, Chief Strategy Officer Wendy Meadley said.
"We have several meetings with industry leaders and private investors with an interest in moving the project forward," Meadley said in a news release Tuesday. "People need to discuss how to collaborate to bring this economic development opportunity for Minnesota to life. We expect by the end of the visit we will have a strong sense of the opportunities available."
NAHSR's plan calls for elevated tracks following U.S. Highway 52. Future plans would have the line connect to Chicago and elsewhere.
The group is conducting a preliminary study with work permits granted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and to date "has seen nothing from a geographic perspective that would prohibit the project from moving forward," the news release states.
Meadley said NAHSR will release the findings of the study when it is determined whether or not the project will advance.
"NAHSR knows there will be great scrutiny to this new kind of transportation project and we welcome it," the group says. "We are producing a consumer good and we want our consumers, partners and especially our neighbors to be fully aware and engaged in the process."
High-speed rail in southeastern Minnesota has been a hotly debated topic in recent years, with residents in communities between the metro areas voicing concern over potential land disruption and eminent domain.
NAHSR's plan follows the shelved Zip Rail project, a publicly funded high-speed rail proposal suspended by MnDOT and Olmsted County Regional Railroad Authority earlier this year.
"America, and in particular, the Midwest, is ready for high speed rail," according to Joseph Wang, CEO of NAHSR. "Thousands of consumers, businesses and organizations would benefit from this Starter Line. And when future phases connect to Chicago, the Midwest will be connected to the rest of the country in ways even more economically beneficial then when the first railroads connected us all in the late 1800s."