Oberstar says proposed rail line's price tag too high

The chairman of the U.S. House Transportation Committee says a billion-dollar estimate for the cost of a proposed high-speed rail line between the Twin Cities and Duluth is too high.

MnDOT said the project could cost between $600 million and $1 billion depending on a number of factors, including whether double tracks are built on the entire length of the route. Double tracks would allow trains to run at high speeds throughout the trip.

DFL Congressman Jim Oberstar, who chairs the transportation committee, said it's too early to say what the project would look like.

"Those are factors yet to be determined," Oberstar said. "Resolution of those open-end issues will determine its overall cost. I don't see the need for a billion-dollar investment."

MnDOT officials said the possible billion-dollar price tag would be a "worst-cost" scenario. Supporters hope the train, which they call the Northern Lights Express, could begin service in 2012.

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