Minnesota’s first-ever statewide rail conference is set for today in St. Paul. Leaders from all levels of government, the rail industry and academia will be on hand to share information and discuss rail in Minnesota. Topics include rail safety and collaboration, the state of freight rail industry in Minnesota and rail economic development projects across the state–as well as a presentation on the state of the national passenger rail system. MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle, who kicks off the event, says “we have a very robust rail industry in Minnesota, which is very fortunate, but oftentimes there’s a real disconnect in terms of understanding their business model, and then the industry’s understanding of what community concerns might be.” Minnesota has more than 4,500 miles of freight railroad connecting communities across the state, making it one of the largest rail networks in the country and employing more than 4,500 Minnesotans. Minnesota’s rail network carries 25 percent of all freight movement in the state, and is expected to grow by 25-40 percent by 2040. The conference runs from 9 am to 2pm. Here’s more with Commissioner Zelle and Minnesota Rail Director Tenzin Dolkar.
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