Northstar Commuter Rail

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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby commissioner » September 10th, 2019, 7:39 pm

IIRC the Fridley station was built for tracks on both sides of the platform, I would think that would help more than anything.

mulad
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » March 4th, 2020, 8:25 am

Rep. Dan Wolgamott of St. Cloud has introduced another bill this year to get funding to push Northstar along. Following the $650,000 from last year to study the route and begin negotiations with BNSF, this year's bill would put another $6 million into negotiations and planning. It's HF 4017.

https://www.sctimes.com/story/news/2020 ... 942647002/
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.p ... n_number=0

TroyGBiv
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby TroyGBiv » March 4th, 2020, 9:38 am

It is so dumb to not complete this line to St Cloud. The growth of that corridor demands better service and with over half of the route done it is time to finish... the conservatives just want to “prove” mass transit doesn’t work... I’m so glad St Cloud elected someone who wants to see this project completed... glad this guy is pushing this forward!

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » March 6th, 2020, 1:24 pm

The optimist in me likes to see progress being made on the St. Cloud extension, but the pessimist side of me is disappointed this study will take 2 years and even after that's done (if it's done) it doesn't mean trains will start serving St. Cloud right away. Also I'm not hopeful that service to St. Cloud will be substantial. At most we should only expect the existing trips (5 commute, 1 reverse commute) extended to St. Cloud. Not exactly the all-day regional rail service that people like myself know makes sense and should be pursued.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » June 23rd, 2020, 8:12 pm

Depressing fact of the day: Northstar daily ridership is in the double digits.

MNdible
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby MNdible » June 24th, 2020, 2:46 pm

And we think the carbon footprint of people driving their SUVs is bad -- just imagine what the numbers on a diesel locomotive hauling a couple dozen people looks like.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » June 24th, 2020, 3:02 pm

I’m guessing easier said than done borrowing a couple RDCs to temporarily replace the giant diesel locomotives and coaches for 25 or less riders per trip.

MNdible
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby MNdible » June 24th, 2020, 4:19 pm

Or you could just run a coach bus.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » June 24th, 2020, 5:57 pm

True. Add one or two additional roundtrips just to make sure there's enough social distancing, and just extend the 887 (Northstar Link) all the way to Minneapolis.

Mdcastle
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Mdcastle » June 24th, 2020, 6:12 pm

Maybe we should just suspend the service, as I doubt you'd have a lot of takers for a bus. A lot of those couple of dozen are probably people that refuse to ride buses and others don't want to risk getting coronavirus sitting together on a bus instead of spread out on a train.

Probably a bigger carbon footprint is all those airplanes that are flying empty or nearly empty.

mulad
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » August 6th, 2020, 9:03 am

The MnDOT study for a Northstar extension to St. Cloud is out now:
https://www.dot.state.mn.us/passengerra ... index.html

They looked at four scenarios, which are all pretty minimal if you ask me. I've only had a chance to look at the executive summary so far:
  • Only one inbound train and one outbound per day in the peak direction
  • Inbound/outbound train pairs in both the morning and afternoon
  • Inbound/outbound train pairs in both the morning and afternoon, but express instead of making all stops (strangely ends up being more expensive)
  • Probably the best option, with multiple round-trips per day, though with an extra evening outbound trip that seems unbalanced with the others, so it's 9 daily trips (4.5 round-trips) for some reason...
The St. Cloud Times has an article on it. Frustratingly, the study is claiming it will take 5.5 to 7 years to implement all but the simplest option (which would be 5.5). Costs are more or less in line with what I've heard before, though I'd never heard anyone assign service levels, and these scenarios are probably running around half of what I would have expected for numbers of trains per day at these costs.

https://www.sctimes.com/story/news/loca ... 580634002/

alexschief
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby alexschief » August 6th, 2020, 2:18 pm

It's frustrating that any of the first three options were even considered, since they represent train service so minimal, there's barely any point in spending the money.

Too often these studies end up negotiating against themselves. Even if the study authors think it's impractical, why not study eight trips per day in each direction? Why not study sixteen trips per day in each direction? Why limit the scope of even the exploratory study?

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » August 6th, 2020, 2:30 pm

Too often these studies end up negotiating against themselves. Even if the study authors think it's impractical, why not study eight trips per day in each direction? Why not study sixteen trips per day in each direction? Why limit the scope of even the exploratory study?
My guess is this:
"The objective of this feasibility assessment is to provide decision makers with the estimated capital, operating, and maintenance costs of a range of service alternatives to extend Northstar service to St. Cloud that have been determined to be operationally feasible by BNSF."

I haven't read the full study yet, but I wonder if they considered a third main track to increase capacity or if this study assumes keeping the corridor at two tracks.

blo442
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby blo442 » August 6th, 2020, 3:52 pm

The report assumes maintaining the corridor at 2 tracks (except potentially around Northtown Yard). BNSF lets Northstar have one track to itself in the morning/evening and runs freights on the other, creating congestion when freight trains are coming from both directions. BNSF hates the idea of midday service as they do track maintenance between 9am-3pm, frequently taking one track out of service. Reading between the lines, a third track would presumably allow regional rail-type service, but that's probably over $1B spent on this extension. Not gonna happen so it was deemed not worth study.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » August 6th, 2020, 4:19 pm

The report assumes maintaining the corridor at 2 tracks (except potentially around Northtown Yard). BNSF lets Northstar have one track to itself in the morning/evening and runs freights on the other, creating congestion when freight trains are coming from both directions. BNSF hates the idea of midday service as they do track maintenance between 9am-3pm, frequently taking one track out of service. Reading between the lines, a third track would presumably allow regional rail-type service, but that's probably over $1B spent on this extension. Not gonna happen so it was deemed not worth study.
Why not? A third track could allow regional rail service plus additional Amtrak service to Fargo and Grand Forks (and a potential extension to Winnipeg) while also allowing future freight traffic growth. Seems like a win for everybody even if it does cost a lot.

Silophant
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Silophant » August 6th, 2020, 4:35 pm

Man, how depressing must it be to work in the MnDOT passenger rail office, forever doing studies that you know will never get funded unless the DFL gets full governmental control (including 60% in the House), and even then, only maybe?

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » August 6th, 2020, 4:47 pm

Would be nice to have something equivalent to the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 but for passenger rail.

Tcmetro
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Tcmetro » October 17th, 2020, 7:13 am

Discussion underway about the future of the Northstar line.

https://m.startribune.com/transit-offic ... lmob=y&c=n


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