MSP to Rochester High Speed Rail

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
mattaudio
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » March 18th, 2015, 11:56 am

I also share the question about how Pat Garofolo's rogue bill can lead to a compromise that would have any chance of becoming law. How would this get through conference committee with the Senate?

MNdible
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby MNdible » March 18th, 2015, 12:31 pm

cowboyjones wrote:Doesn't Dayton have line-item veto, or am I mistaken? If he does, are there restrictions on it to keep him from removing that particular section?
As I understand it, the line-item veto can only be used on appropriations, not policy.

mulad
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mulad » March 18th, 2015, 1:23 pm

Poking at the website through the Wayback Machine reveals this Advisory Board (mostly scrubbed out of the current website except for Bill Goins and Wendy Meadley):
  • Bill Goins | Federal Express - Board Chair
  • Chris Terry | Knutson Mortgage
  • Dale Wahlstrom | Act 3
  • David Williams | University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management
  • Lynnette Crandall | Dorsey & Partners
  • Mark Loftus | Dakota Electric
  • Mark Phillips | Kraus Anderson
  • Wendy Meadley | Social Wendy Group
I don't want to elevate or shame anyone on this list -- I just want to validate whether this is a legitimate organization or not.

For me, being headed by a guy from FedEx meshes with the idea from the 2003 study where light freight could be shuttled along the line in overnight hours and boost the bottom line a bit. However, it's suspicious that the other names are now removed.

mattaudio
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » March 18th, 2015, 1:38 pm

While I'm very enthusiastic about the idea of private investment in passenger rail, I'm skeptical of this so far. After all, Rochester is where there was an airport booster written up in the papers by the name Rick Christensen.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby RailBaronYarr » March 18th, 2015, 1:56 pm

I'm also skeptical. On one hand, you've got players in enough industries that would seem to fit in with building electrified passenger rail (construction, utilities, logistics, finance, legal). On the other hand the site seems pretty, ah, barebones. It no longer lists anyone but the chair. Does anyone on that list have any experience running a passenger rail (or any transit) service? Plus, the timing.

Like mattaudio, I'm totally open to private investment in passenger rail. I'm not happy about any legislation that requires it (not that it's likely to be signed anyway). But if an All Aboard FL situation were to arise, all the better (less intervention from choo choo hating conservatives, etc).

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby RailBaronYarr » March 23rd, 2015, 9:39 am


David Greene
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby David Greene » March 23rd, 2015, 9:54 am

Somebody's gonna get pwned.

phop
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby phop » March 23rd, 2015, 9:57 am

This isn't some sort of false flag operation is it?

mulad
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mulad » March 23rd, 2015, 10:19 am

Yeah, that stuck out as a big reason to be skeptical of this NAHSR group. There are probably some areas where it would be necessary, particularly if the route closely follows U.S. 52. Past studies have suggested the last little bit into (or through) Rochester may also need to be elevated. If you want a service that goes super-fast (like the 220 mph that has sometimes been proposed), a larger portion of the line would need elevation to keep it straight and flat, but it's hard to say how much.

I think almost all of the Japanese Shinkansen network is elevated, but they have to slice through a lot of dense areas, and can't entirely trust the ground to be stable because of earthquakes and floodplains/tsunami zones. European lines hug the ground much more closely and only run in elevated sections when needed. We don't have anywhere near the traffic demands of Japan, so it would be unwise to elevate any more of the line than absolutely necessary. It's usually cheaper to build roadways over or under the tracks than it is to elevate long rail segments.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby David Greene » March 23rd, 2015, 10:43 am

The reason given for elevation is to preserve farmland.

WTF?

mattaudio
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » March 23rd, 2015, 10:51 am

Do they just mean elevated at grade crossings? As in, no level crossings? That would make much more sense.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby FISHMANPET » March 23rd, 2015, 11:25 am

Would they be crazy enough to build elevated tracks in the median of 52? There was only one sentence really about land acquisition, but I didn't get the impression it was about preserving the farm land as much as it was to just avoid trying to acquire it entirely.

mulad
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mulad » March 23rd, 2015, 2:09 pm

Possible, I guess. I don't want to go too far down the rabbit hole on that specific mention in a news article which may not have even been interpreting statements correctly.

But speaking more broadly, the study team has previously mentioned that it wouldn't work to strictly follow Highway 52's current routing -- Many of the curves are just be too sharp for a real high-speed service. The median is also pretty narrow if you wanted to try and fit tracks. Looking at this corridor near Brussels, I get a width of 52 feet for the rail right-of-way itself, plus extra buffer space of 45' on each side of the tracks, putting the entire median space at a bit over 140 feet. Including the roadway surface brings the total cross-section to 260 feet or more.

Highway 52 has a narrower median, only about 52 feet wide, though it looks like much of the highway corridor has a full right-of-way in the 200-300 foot range. A single track might be able to fit down the center today, but there would be many cases where at least one direction of the highway would need to be shifted to ease curves or allow for passage under existing bridges (and new bridges would be needed in a number of cases). Elevating the rails would potentially let the track fit into the existing median, since you could probably fit supporting pylons into less space than you'd need for tracks, but that's probably a lot more expensive than just shifting the highway. And elevated tracks would need to climb over or duck under roadway bridges at interchanges.

I think it's more common to run tracks on one side of the highway, though that has its own problems since freeway ramps need to have extra bridges to climb across the tracks at many interchanges.

I think I'm slowly convincing myself that it's a good idea to just put the train down the median for much of the route -- the main drawback is that big chunks of the highway would need to be reconstructed to make room, potentially laying a big cost burden on the rail project even though it would mostly benefit the highway. The right-of-way is mostly there, aside from some curves that would need to be softened or bypassed entirely by the tracks.

talindsay
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby talindsay » March 23rd, 2015, 3:47 pm

I think the "private funders" are interested in getting the ban on public funding passed into state law, at which point the private funding will silently evaporate. And then we'll have a Dan Patch situation.

HiawathaGuy
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby HiawathaGuy » March 23rd, 2015, 4:00 pm

The whole article read like an Onion article to me. It just seemed strangely written.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby RailBaronYarr » April 15th, 2015, 11:10 am

http://www.postbulletin.com/news/politi ... l-backers/

h/t to Mike Hicks. Folks behind private investment in Zip Rail are also behind the MN Expo 2023 push.

Other interesting nuggets: Sounds like they're speaking in DC today to the national HSR group? Also, looks like they'd fund capital costs at least partly with value capture by developing real estate. Speculation: this won't be in either of the downtowns as the group likely has no major land holdings, so it would probably be at least one if not more suburban station locations. UMore Park would be a natural guess. I'm not a fan of exurban greenfield development (though walkable ones are better than the alternative). But an HSR-connected UMore Park with walkable development around it would be a decent tradeoff to get a true HSR link in MN.

acs
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby acs » April 15th, 2015, 3:00 pm

Betting on greenfield development to cover not only ridership/operating costs but capital costs in the billions of dollars as well seems like an incredibly risky business model. Has this been tried with any other high speed rail lines? I can't think of any.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby RailBaronYarr » April 15th, 2015, 3:10 pm

To clarify, operating revenue would likely cover ops expenses from projected ridership, which includes people in the Twin Cities, Rochester, visitors, etc - well more than banking on greenfield development. The (assumed, who knows) greenfield development would re-coup only a portion of capital costs for the line (likely - netting $2+ billion in profits off exurban real estate is unlikely). The partners would probably be coming to the table with investors looking to net a long-term return (from operating surplus), and shore up the gap with the real estate development at 1 or more suburban stations. This is, of course, pure speculation, but not an unreasonable one.

David Greene
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby David Greene » April 15th, 2015, 10:06 pm

Public infrastructure should be publicly owned.

mattaudio
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » April 16th, 2015, 8:18 am

Private infrastructure that gets built is better than public infrastructure that never gets built. The residents of Hong Kong can attest to that.


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