MSP to Rochester High Speed Rail

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mattaudio
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » July 30th, 2014, 1:49 pm

The alt analysis suggested that the best operating cash flow would be achieved at higher speeds. Also, I think rail from core to core strengthens our land use because it disincentivizes sprawl in favor of walkable or transit connected cores.

My guess is that DMU service on the UP Spine Line SPUD > Northfield > Faribault > Owatonna, then CN to Kasson > Rochester would take 2.5 hours or so. And we'd have to spend tons of money expanding capacity on those freight routes. I think they may still be viable at some point, although I'd rather see DMU service to Des Moines and a second DMU service from La Crosse/Winona to New Ulm/Mankato connecting at Owatonna. But HSR on dedicated ROW would be a much longer-term investment, as we'd be getting tracks owned by the public for the purpose of moving passengers.

mulad
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mulad » July 30th, 2014, 3:02 pm

Just to run the numbers a bit, a train would need to average about 80 miles per hour to run from SPUD to Rochester in an hour flat (assuming a nearly straight shot along the US-52 corridor), and about 107 mph to do it in 45 minutes. The ability to achieve those sorts of speeds depends a lot on the amount of track/ROW shared with freight, plus the length of slower-speed zones for getting into/out of the endpoint cities, going through/past intermediate towns, and other slower areas such as sharper turns. Trip time in one hour is probably achievable with 110 mph top speed. Unfortunately, going much faster than that basically requires electrification (you can go marginally faster without it, but acceleration rates are very slow).

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby talindsay » July 30th, 2014, 3:52 pm

I'd bet with 110+ service you could compete pretty well with a driving time, even with stops. And there seem to be a fair number of towns that you could link up in a line between the two that could be served by a Regional type service, though that's not what the study is about. I'd hope that the tracks are built in such a way that there could be easy spurs into these towns, so that it wouldn't take much to add more trains to the tracks to provide more local service.
The great thing about investing in dedicated passenger tracks is that capacity would be very high so regional services should be able to live side by side with the faster end-to-end service.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mulad » July 31st, 2014, 3:17 pm

According to the Census Bureau's OnTheMap tool, Minneapolis and Saint Paul are the 4th and 5th-biggest sources for commuters to Rochester (if you don't count Rochester itself), and a surprising (to me) number of other Twin Cities suburbs also have people working in Rochester. I figured everyone would be clustered in Inver Grove Heights and other areas along the north end of US-52, but they're spread all around.

Image
OnTheMap-Rochester-commute-inbound by Mulad, on Flickr

The big question would be, how much of that commute traffic can actually be captured, and how much other traffic can you get? Chuck Michael, the main presenter at last night's meeting in Inver Grove Heights, mentioned that they're looking at one-way fares in the range of $30. (Not a whole lot more expensive than current single-ride commuter and shuttle bus fares, though some of those have pretty steep discounts for multi-ride passes).

I always worry a lot about how people can access stations and destinations on each end of a trip. The Twin Cities metro is vast, so you could easily burn away any time savings from a fast train between St. Paul and Rochester by taking a slow bus or local train/streetcar. Rochester is similarly sprawling, though at least the jobs are generally packed pretty tightly in downtown. But hey, you can probably get from most places in Minneapolis to Target Field in roughly half an hour if you time it right, or similarly from most parts of Saint Paul to SPUD in about the same amount of time. So if we have a hypothetical train that can make the run from SPUD in 45 minutes, your end-to-end travel time closely matches the 1h15 to 1h30 that would be spent driving from St. Paul to Rochester.

Going the opposite direction is probably trickier, since jobs in the Twin Cities are spread out so much and our transit network is downtown-focused.

As much as I don't like park-and-rides, it would probably be alright to have a suburban station to capture some of the trips that just wouldn't work that well via transit (Apple Valley to SPUD to go back south again, for instance?). I'm not sure how far south it should be, though -- I mentioned to mattaudio that it took me a good 50 minutes to get from my job in downtown St. Paul to the meeting site in Inver Grove Heights, and the bus was on time and relatively direct (dropped me off on the wrong side of US-52, though -- route 71 ends at Inver Hills Community College, while the community center was on the other side of the highway). At the meeting, they mentioned the idea of a station somewhere southwest of the Pine Bend oil refinery in Rosemount, probably fairly close to Dakota County Technical College along Highway 42. Doing that means the track will cut through the UMore Park area. Would that encourage better density as that develops, or make it more of a sprawl engine? If we have a station in Rosemount, I guess I'd rather see it dragged westward over to the city's small downtown where there are tracks today, but that would add length and time to the route.

According to their current models, adding a suburban station would increase ridership by 30%.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby David Greene » August 1st, 2014, 11:48 am

According to their current models, adding a suburban station would increase ridership by 30%.
Seems worth it.

bubzki2
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby bubzki2 » August 1st, 2014, 12:12 pm

Would there be any TOD I wonder for a suburban station? If they built only an urban station, would that also further encourage a resurgence in the core? I wonder if the metro suburban dwellers live south of the core because it's just closer to their destination and would prefer/move to the city if given the chance.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby Minneapolisite » August 2nd, 2014, 4:58 pm

Rochester doesn't need high speed rail. If it's just Mpls-Rochester, then a regular train will get you there in a timely manner. Now to Chicago? Hell yeah it better be high speed. I'd love a 3-4 hour train ride: it would be at least half of the 8 hour ride I take on Megabus. Of course, if it costs as much as a plane ticket...

grant1simons2
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby grant1simons2 » August 2nd, 2014, 8:05 pm

That's because you like Chicago.

Mdcastle
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby Mdcastle » August 2nd, 2014, 10:37 pm

Would there be any TOD I wonder for a suburban station? If they built only an urban station, would that also further encourage a resurgence in the core? I wonder if the metro suburban dwellers live south of the core because it's just closer to their destination and would prefer/move to the city if given the chance.

I'd say it's a mix. Right now it's stupid to live in downtown, as opposed to say Rosemount, if you're commuting to Rochester. Some of those people probably live there just to shorten the commute, and would move closer in. Others probably like living in Rosemount as opposed to the city, and won't move and wouldn't use the train if a suburban park and ride isn't provided.

People here didn't like my idea of a station in Northwest Rochester, but again I point out it could attract park and riders from the rapidly growing northwestern area and towards Orronoco that wouldn't drive downtown (and downtown Rochester probably isn't the best place to store there cars), and IBM is right there also. People that live in politically incorrect large houses in the exurbs as opposed to politically correct "transit oriented developments" next to a train station may not be the favorites of people here, but it's going to take a lot of people to fill up trains, not just the people you think are deserving of transit.
Last edited by Mdcastle on August 4th, 2014, 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

go4guy
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby go4guy » August 4th, 2014, 11:11 am

High speed rail from the Twin Cities to Rochester could be the first phase of a larger network getting you to Chicago. Do any of the high speed rail to Chicago go thru Rochester? And a stop in NW Rochester would not be a bad idea. My gf is a nurse at Mayo, and they cannot use the parking ramps downtown so have to take a shuttle bus from the Wal-Mart parking lot. There is a lot of staff up in NW Rochester that need to get downtown on a daily basis.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby FISHMANPET » August 4th, 2014, 11:13 am

High speed rail plans to Chicago either goes through Rochester then follows I90 East, or roughly follows the existing Empire Builder route between the two cities.

go4guy
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby go4guy » August 4th, 2014, 11:21 am

Sorry to ask a dumb question, but is the Empire Builder route basically along 94? I would think if the time difference isnt very much, that going thru Rochester would be a smart move. Then go thru Madison and on to Chicago.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby FISHMANPET » August 4th, 2014, 11:29 am

It follows the river until La Crosse, and then I think basically follows 90. It doesn't stop in Madison though, just a town a bit northwest I think.

mattaudio
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » August 4th, 2014, 12:52 pm

The original Midwest HSR Initiative study suggested that the UP route (generally following 94 via Eau Claire) would be most promising if we're going to develop new ROW. The more recent plans talk about upgrading the current river route (via Winona/La Crosse) to 110ish MPH diesel service. I question some of the methodology of the study that said Eau Claire is a greater trip driver to Mpls than Rochester, since it's on an existing Interstate and 52 to Rochester likely serves a much higher percentage of local traffic between the two regions. Also the Wisconsin alignment wasn't helped by Scott Walker. So if we can get some interim improvements to the river route, but plan on dedicated ROW to Rochester as the start of a future 200+ MPH alignment for 2050 and beyond, it sounds like a good option.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mulad » August 4th, 2014, 1:10 pm

It follows the river until La Crosse, and then I think basically follows 90. It doesn't stop in Madison though, just a town a bit northwest I think.
Yep the designated stop for Madison customers is in Columbus, 28 miles northeast.

Here's a map of the Twin Cities to Chicago route (assuming that some future service will eventually go to Target Field):



One of the issues I've had with earlier plans to build a true-HSR alignment through Rochester has been the fact that they tend to skip past Winona and hit La Crosse instead. I'd like to see Winona on the line, but it's hard to say if it's worthwhile or not. If we can ever get real HSR running through Rochester, hopefully the river route through Winona and Red Wing (maybe with an added stop in Hastings or Cottage Grove) would stay alive as some sort of secondary service.

The existing Canadian Pacific / DM&E line goes through Winona, but it is a very curvy route as it climbs from the river valley.

It always felt to me that the I-94 route might be a bit shorter, though it's not clear that it really is. If you plot the great circle route from the Twin Cities to Chicago, it basically goes straight down the Mississippi River valley until La Crosse, though it then smacks straight into the hills and valleys of the Driftless Area. Of course, almost any route would go to Milwaukee before hitting Chicago, and I-94 does make a bit more sense for that. It's still not a huge change in overall distance to go through Rochester instead, though.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby go4guy » August 4th, 2014, 1:37 pm

For some reason, I didnt think this would go thru Milwaukee.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby FISHMANPET » August 4th, 2014, 1:47 pm

There's so much Milwaukee-Chicago traffic, it'd be crazy not to. That service is going to get upgraded eventually one way or the other, no reason not to piggy back on it, rather than run new line from Madision to Milwaukee. Madison to Milwaukee was also about to happen before Scott Walker axed it, and is likely to rise again, so again that's another route to piggy-back off of.

grant1simons2
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby grant1simons2 » August 4th, 2014, 4:07 pm

The train from Milwaukee and Chicago is so awesome. 1 hour of a constantly changing landscape from city to burbs to farms to burbs to city. It's awesome

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby David Greene » August 19th, 2014, 12:16 pm


grant1simons2
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby grant1simons2 » August 19th, 2014, 12:29 pm

"We have limited transportation funds. We would be better off building wider shoulders, more overpasses on Highway 52 instead of spending what would be billions of dollars on a line that people don't want, don't need and certainly don't want to pay for,"
Good luck with that. I don't get scared about this stuff because I'm sure the people working on the Zip Line knew it was bound to happen.


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