Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

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Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby Lancestar2 » October 18th, 2014, 11:11 am

http://www.southernminn.com/northfield_ ... 67214.html
the 2002 gag order stopped progress for several years until rail supporters figured out how to skirt the gag by discussing “intercity regional passenger rail” lines instead of “commuter lines.”
"The difference between the two is that a commuter rail line is intended to feed riders into one location, such as Minneapolis, while intercity regional passenger rail lines are intended to allow movement back and forth along multiple stops."
Northfield is already working to develop their transit station.

Has there been any other discussion of this project yet, is it even legal or still realistic to think this could happen?

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby grant1simons2 » October 18th, 2014, 11:38 am

It's such a stupid law anyways I don't know why it hasn't been overturned. 2 anti-rail Republicans stopping a good plan going to a town that just makes sense to have a rail. I thought the current plan in 2010 was to go down to Mankato though

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby mattaudio » October 18th, 2014, 12:47 pm

Ah yes I knew someone attending those meetings but didn't know what the result was.

I hope they consider a regional line on the UP Spine Line. It's in great shape, and they could probably secure some easements from UP in exchange for double tracking in areas, high speed sidings, etc. Mpls > SPUD > Rosemount > Farmington > Northfield and maybe could become true intercity service into Iowa or even Kansas City.

Since ZipRail is likely pushing to build a P&R station near CSAH 42, they could move it just north of the refinery and have a shared station where the lines would diverge.

Edit: Or if ZipRail chooses the CGW alignment, use that plus the Randolph-Northfield branch (currently a PGR branch line used for ag and delivering wind turbines) to hop from ex-CGW to Northfield. This would mean no shared UP trackage north of Northfield, more bang for the buck with ZipRail, and only one platform needed for the suburban CSAH 42 stop.

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby illman00 » October 18th, 2014, 6:47 pm

SPUD, Rosemont, and Northfield? I thought this was going through Edina, Bloomington, and Shakopee...

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Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby Anondson » October 18th, 2014, 7:16 pm

Dan Patch does in fact run Savage, Bloomington, Edina, and to St. Louis Park. In fact it runs through SLP pretty much most of where the SWLRT was proposed to push Kenilworth freight into. I think mattaudio is suggesting an alternate line route linking Northfield instead of the Dan Patch route ?

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby mulad » October 18th, 2014, 7:20 pm

Savage rather than Shakopee.

Yes, but the tracks to SPUD are in better condition. Then again, this is the Target Field vs. SPUD conversation all over again.

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby Lancestar2 » October 18th, 2014, 8:15 pm

Would anybody know a rough guess into how effective this "Intercity Regional Passenger Rail" line would work? Such as speeds between each major town,what type of numbers would we see per stop, and would they be commuter going to work or less frequent usage trips? It does sound nice to have a transit option from Mankato to Rochester, but is there enough benefit to encourage enough people to ride? Has a "rural Intercity Regional Passenger Rail" been done before in a density as rural as this corridor?

Well Faribault, Northfield, Rochester, and Mankato all have local bus service so it's not like people will be stranded at a station if they don't have a car.

What type of basic minimal cost would we be looking at to build a IRPR? What would be the max speed on the existing rail? Would building an expensive IRPR be needed to attract enough users to make it work? Not sure if there are any midwest IRPR examples we can compare it to?

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby mulad » October 20th, 2014, 10:14 am

Here's a map of the most practical routes for getting between the Twin Cities and Northfield. Any route to Minneapolis would require a lot of work restoring tracks to good condition, including the bridge over the Minnesota River, and a new junction with one of the lines leading into downtown Minneapolis would be needed -- A project very similar to the upgrades proposed for the TC&W reroute for SWLRT could be required, grade-separating more of the line through St. Louis Park. There are Union Pacific tracks to St. Paul that are in fairly good shape (for freight, at least), though even there, I'd prefer to use the branch that currently ends in Eagan rather than heading through Inver Grove Heights. There's a 4-mile gap in that route, though, now partly occupied by the Big River Regional Trail.



The actual Dan Patch line (in red on the map) was not really built with speed in mind. It has a lot of relatively sharp curves down to roughly Lakeville, but farther south it's fairly straight. However, that might not be a huge dealbreaker if there's a continuing effort to legalize European rolling stock -- there are probably some tilting train designs that could handle the route at decent speeds. Some curves can probably be eased without too much trouble, but many would probably require taking buildings to improve.

I can't say what sort of ridership we could expect with any of these routes, but the Dan Patch route in particular comes from downtown Northfield, goes through the center of Lakeville and runs past the shopping district at I-35 and Kenwood Trail, then passes through the business district around Burnsville Center. Once it hits Bloomington, it passes through a business district along Old Shakopee Road and passes through two clusters in Edina. Depending on how it goes north of there, it could hit another two or more employment areas before heading to Target Field. There isn't great residential density along the route, but if you can put stations in locations that are natural attractors for people, that can help a lot. (Like SWLRT, a lot of the business districts are not very walkable, but things can change with transit-oriented development.)

Unfortunately, I think this type of rail project is very unusual in the US, so there isn't much to compare it to, though I'm not sure that's a bad thing -- I don't like purely commuter-oriented services, since they only work for people traveling in one direction and don't really let you pop into town for part of the day to do a a shopping trip, doctor's visit, etc. In my ideal world, I think most of the route (perhaps not all the way to Northfield, but at least down to Lakeville or Farmington) would have hourly service for off-peak periods, ramping up to 15- or 20-minute service during rush hours.

I'm not sure if a route to Northfield will ever really be able to share much track with a route to Rochester or Mankato, but MnDOT does have a line to Albert Lea on its radar, albeit for implementation sometime after 2030. Faribault and Owatonna would be other intermediate stops, most likely, and clearly it would make a lot of sense to continue the line straight south into Iowa to eventually reach Des Moines.

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby Ottergoose » October 20th, 2014, 1:04 pm

The Spine Line (yellow going North out of Northfield to SPUD via Inver Grove Heights on Mike's map) will be the subject of much infrastructure improvement from Union Pacific over the next few years to relieve congestion - the Robert Street bridge in Downtown St. Paul is apparently slated for replacement by 2017. I can't imagine UP's keen to have any additional traffic to deal with, but, they'll be in a much better position soon, apparently.

Mike's assessment of the Dan Patch is good, AFAIK; eastbound traffic from CP will be routed through the Twin Cities via BNSF's Monticello Subdivision through Crystal / Robbinsdale / Downtown Minneapolis, instead of their current route through the Camden area of Northeast Minneapolis, which, to an outsider, looks pretty strange, as CP owns a parallel and underused route (the Dan Patch). In other words: the BNSF Monticello Sub is going to look a lot different in a couple of years as the Green Line extension goes in, and the existing freight infrastructure is upgraded to accommodate CP.

Progressive Rail's generating enough traffic out of Northfield that UP's now running a daily train down to Northfield and back from St. Paul, with CP running down there one day and back the next; even without this non-commuter commuter business, it's a pretty interesting time to be following the railroads around here.

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby kellonathan » October 20th, 2014, 8:57 pm

I was in the meeting last Thursday afternoon. While I can't really say too much about the prospect of the project itself right now, but here are some info/thoughts I can add to the discussion.

- (Personally, somewhat surprisingly) Edina is very open to the idea of having a passenger rail in their city. They were even willing to host the next meeting as a forum or an open house.

- My impression was that MnDOT is redrawing the 2015 statewide rail plan almost from scratch, meaning that they are open to any proposal/idea.

- The grand vision the project is pursuing is not really to feed suburban commuters to MSP. It's more on the network effect of providing intercity passenger rail btwn MSP and Des Moines and KC---whilst serving intermediate stops in Southern MN. (If this project gets noticeable momentum, MnDOT will reach out to Iowa DOT.)

- No discussion of specific routing between Northfield and MSP yet. (It's more likely to serve Union Depot instead of Target Field.)
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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby grant1simons2 » October 20th, 2014, 9:02 pm

I think this is one of those lines that will once again help college students get home, a lot of rail I see being planned now will help colleges out; Duluth, Rochester, Northfield, and St Cloud come to mind.

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby Silophant » October 20th, 2014, 9:14 pm

kellonathan wrote:I was in the meeting last Thursday afternoon. While I can't really say too much about the prospect of the project itself right now, but here are some info/thoughts I can add to the discussion.

- My impression was that MnDOT is redrawing the 2015 statewide rail plan almost from scratch, meaning that they are open to any proposal/idea.

- The grand vision the project is pursuing is not really to feed suburban commuters to MSP. It's more on the network effect of providing intercity passenger rail btwn MSP and Des Moines and KC---whilst serving intermediate stops in Southern MN. (If this project gets noticeable momentum, MnDOT will reach out to Iowa DOT.)

- No discussion of specific routing between Northfield and MSP yet. (It's more likely to serve Union Depot instead of Target Field.)
The meeting may not have covered this, but I know that a line to Mankato was on the Phase I list of their last plan. Is that still in the mix? (I grew up in Mankato, so, y'know, relevant to my life.)

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby kellonathan » November 12th, 2014, 1:59 am

Slow, but the project is moving forward.

It's a super-short notice, but there will be a "regional leaders' meeting" tomorrow 10am at St. Paul Union Depot. (RCRRA office, to be exact.) I personally won't be able to make it, but please shoot me a message if you would like to attend the meeting.

Meanwhile, please check out this hastily-made website http://mnrail.org and sign up for the mailing lists for regular project updates.
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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby twincitizen » November 12th, 2014, 9:03 am

The exact text of the study ban is as follows:

Sec. 85. [DAN PATCH COMMUTER RAIL LINE; PROHIBITIONS.]
Subdivision 1. [DEFINITION.] For purposes of this section,
"Dan Patch commuter rail line" means the commuter rail line
between Northfield and Minneapolis identified in the
metropolitan council's transit 2020 master plan as the Dan Patch
line.
Subd. 2. [METROPOLITAN COUNCIL; PROHIBITIONS.] The
metropolitan council must not take any action or spend any money
for study, planning, preliminary engineering, final design, or
construction for the Dan Patch commuter rail line. The council
must remove all references, other than references for historical
purposes, to the Dan Patch commuter rail line from any future
revisions to the council's transportation development guide and
the council's regional transit master plan.
Subd. 3. [COMMISSIONER OF TRANSPORTATION.] The
commissioner of transportation must not expend any money for
study, planning, preliminary engineering, final design, or
construction for the Dan Patch commuter rail line. The
commissioner must remove all references, other than references
for historical purposes, to the Dan Patch commuter rail line
from any future revisions to the state transportation plan and
the commissioner's commuter rail system plan.
Subd. 4. [REGIONAL RAIL AUTHORITIES.] No regional rail
authority may expend any money for study, planning, preliminary
engineering, final design, or construction for the Dan Patch
commuter rail line.


Now, we transit nerds may understand that there is a difference between commuter rail, light rail, and regional rail, I very much doubt state lawmakers would see it that way. Of course, what you guys are talking about above is not "Dan Patch Commuter Rail", but a completely different line routed between Savage and St. Paul. Any kind of commuter service, even if just between West Bloomington, Edina, SLP, & downtown, seems like it would still be prohibited, regardless of mode (LRT, DMU, Northstar-style, etc.)

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby kellonathan » November 12th, 2014, 6:01 pm

Of course, we know that gag order is preposterous. Would state lawmakers agree with us? In spite of numerous unsuccessful attempts to lift the ban, I still think so. The routing will probably follow most of the historic Dan Patch alignment, but we're at a very early stage of gauging interests to the project---where the trains will actually go, no one knows yet, and we are not yet at the stage of talking about possible alignments.

I don't think we are trying to revive Dan Patch as a commuter-rail service---a service that terminates in Northfield or Faribault. The goal is to connect Mpls to Des Moines and Kansas City as an intercity service, and we are trying to start the project by building a momentum from the communities in southern MN.
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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby emcee squared » November 12th, 2014, 8:18 pm

I remember Lakeville putting in nice, sharp crossing arms where the line crosses at-grade near Orchard and Kinsley lakes many years back. I don't think they were ever used.

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby mattaudio » November 13th, 2014, 9:33 am

Lakeville has added or rebuilt many signals over the years that have never been used more than a handful of times to move empty freight cars up the tracks for controversial storage. CSAH 9 had one put in mid-1990s, but no gate arms - it was a crossbuck before that. 210th Street got a brand new one with gate arms and trains rarely get up there (they sometimes cross 215th and Holyoke due to switching operations at the industrial park). Another cool note, 172nd St still has a Griswold signal, but with the stop signs removed. This line once had plenty of Griswold signals.

Anyways, @kellonathan can chime in, but it sounds like the planning right now is route-agnostic. Which is good, because I don't see much value in the short/medium term for passenger rail on the Dan Patch corridor. The SOTR travelsheds are soaked up quite well with express buses and Red/Orange Line BRT. And we've seen how Northstar, and the whole concept of suburban P&R rail, was a complete economic failure even before the scheduling issues.

If the concept is to connect Northfield as a regional destination, possibly integrating into a regional corridor to Faribault, Owatonna, Albert Lea, etc. -- and possible intercity service to Des Moines / Kansas City -- then Dan Patch Corridor is not the way to go. It would be much better from a service perspective to either get trackage rights on the existing UP Spine Line, or to piggyback with a new greenfield passenger ZipRail line to Hampton or Randolph (depending on if ZipRail uses CGW or US52 ROW), then buy out and upgrade the existing trackage from Randolph to Northfield.

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby seanrichardryan » October 11th, 2015, 11:01 pm

Q. What, what? A. In da butt.

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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby mister.shoes » October 12th, 2015, 10:27 am

seanrichardryan wrote:Dan Patch of another era.
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1042492
I feel like we've discussed this picture before—or at least this station. Looking at a map, I'm struggling to understand how the Dan Patch line got from ~60th to 54th. The hill Windom School sits on is high enough that the RR would have had to go around it.

Oh, hey, found a map that indicates the line did go around said hill and ran right up Nicollet. That's what I assumed. Cool.
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Re: Dan Patch Intercity Regional Passenger Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » March 30th, 2016, 1:38 pm

I set up a Facebook page about this project which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/DanPatchRail

What I believe should be done is this:
-Build the Dan Patch Line and Spine Line. The Dan Patch Line would go as far south as Albert Lea, while the Spine Line could go further south since it allows for faster speed from St. Paul while the Dan Patch Line is more of a suburban line.
-The Dan Patch Line should have at most two stations in each community (except Minneapolis, Northfield, Fairbault, Owatonna, and Albert Lea).

St. Louis Park and Lakeville are the only communities against this. The rest either support it or are neutral. St. Louis Park is kind of a surprise, and hopefully they will change their mind. Lakeville will be much tougher to change and their current mayor wants to stick with the status-quo of more roads with bus routes thrown in.


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