Freight Rail News and Happenings

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froggie
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby froggie » March 13th, 2015, 4:25 pm

IIRC, Holman Field is the 2nd busiest airport under MAC's jurisdiction (behind MSP). It's also the only metro-area airport besides MSP that has a runway longer than 5,000ft. Relocating the would be a significantly expensive undertaking, and upgrading one of the other nearby airports (namely to provide another 5,000ft+ runway) would be difficult.

Regarding rail bridges, I'd be tempted to keep the rail bridge under Robert St. It would involve difficult switching to tie into SPUD, but it eliminates the need for future passenger rail service south to Albert Lea/Des Moines or the ZipRail to Rochester to navigate Hoffman Junction, which is already at capacity.

commissioner
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby commissioner » March 13th, 2015, 8:20 pm

mulad wrote:CP's vehicle offloading facility is not far to the east/southeast of the area BNSF is buying. Yes, the siding there has been too short to fit the trains that feed it, so it has needed a longer (set of) siding(s). I currently measure the longest one at almost 3,900 feet -- I'm not sure if that's a change from the past or not.

BNSF themselves have a vehicle facility by their Dayton's Bluff yard. (Union Pacific's is off West 7th by Randolph. I'm not sure if there are any other rail-served new car storage facilities in the Twin Cities.)

Moving one or both of the BNSF intermodal yards (Bridal Veil Intermodal and St. Paul Intermodal) would probably free up a good amount of capacity on the Midway subdivision for through-running trains, and would make it a lot easier to fit more tracks into that corridor (which would be nice for some passenger services between Target Field and SPUD, for instance). However, the St. Paul Park site doesn't seem like it would have very good access to the rest of the metro area. Hard to say where else would be good for an intermodal yard, though.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong but Bridal Veil is basically overflow for St Paul (Midway) along with a smaller yard near Dale St. I do agree though that the St Paul Park site isn't a good location for an intermodal yard (lack of highway access and traffic). Between the Cities and St Cloud would be better. As far as auto ramps go, there aren't any other ones.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » March 13th, 2015, 8:47 pm

I believe Bridal Veil is used for international imports coming from the coast, while St. Paul is used for domestic traffic (to/from Chicago, for example). I think you're right that the place by Dale Street is just overflow -- there aren't any sidings there to load/unload trains directly.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » June 21st, 2015, 8:46 am

Canadian Pacific is planning to add a third track in La Crosse, Wisconsin for a short stretch (less than one mile) near the city's Amtrak station. Hopefully this will improve access for the Empire Builder and any future service on that route. The project is planned for 2016.

http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/c ... aeb50.html

Here's a link to the map they have in the article. BNSF has also been adding about four miles of second main track through part of La Crosse:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewe ... rd6QaeBPjo

mattaudio
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mattaudio » June 24th, 2015, 9:38 am

Question: Given BNSF freight congestion from Coon Creek Jct south through Northtown, and Minneapolis Jct to the Wayzata Sub... Any chance BNSF would ever reconnect the Monticello Subdivision (former GN trackage to St. Cloud and beyond) to the Staples Subdivision across the river and use it for mainline relief? This would probably have to happen near Monticello. I'm not sure if they own the abandoned corridor northwest of Monticello.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby FISHMANPET » June 24th, 2015, 9:58 am

Not really news, and only barely a happening, but...
Image
This guy has been hanging out in the rail yard behind the TCF stadium for a while. I snapped this last week but I'd bet it's still there.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » June 24th, 2015, 1:14 pm

mattaudio wrote:Question: Given BNSF freight congestion from Coon Creek Jct south through Northtown, and Minneapolis Jct to the Wayzata Sub... Any chance BNSF would ever reconnect the Monticello Subdivision (former GN trackage to St. Cloud and beyond) to the Staples Subdivision across the river and use it for mainline relief? This would probably have to happen near Monticello. I'm not sure if they own the abandoned corridor northwest of Monticello.
I've suspected they might make a river crossing there to access the nuclear plant and remove the need for track between Monticello and the next customer down the line. Personally I'd rather see the line rehabbed and primarily used for commuter/regional rail, but it's kind of duplicative of the Blue Line extension.

One good thing is that a crossing would allow the Empire Builder and other services from St. Cloud/Fargo to be able to run through Target Field in order to get to St. Paul.

Things have been built on top of the rail corridor northwest of Monticello. I see what look like a couple of houses or garages at Enfield (Clementa Ave and County Rd 75), but one big obstacle is a whole subdivision that got plopped on the old route in Clearwater. Crossing the river near Monticello would skip that problem, though. The old right-of-way has also gotten blocked by a number of things as you get close to St. Cloud.

froggie
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby froggie » June 25th, 2015, 8:03 am

In my opinion, triple-tracking the mainline north of Minneapolis Jct and fixing the single-lane bottlenecks downtown and at Minneapolis Junction would be more cost effective than upgrading the Monticello Subdivision and building a new river bridge...

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby commissioner » June 25th, 2015, 9:24 am

They already are double tracking near MPLS Jct, although I do agree triple tracking would help. Especially if/when we get more Northstar service.

mattaudio
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mattaudio » June 25th, 2015, 9:42 am

There are plans to triple track from the junction of the Midway and St. Paul Subs (near Central/Broadway) north through Northtown to Coon Creek Junction, right? Though this would necessitate a wider bridge under 610, an additional track on the bridges over Rice Creek and Mississippi St NE. Plans show this happening before NLX or Northstar extension can happen, right?

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby lordmoke » June 25th, 2015, 9:52 am

That tipped rail car by TCF has been like that for at least three weeks.

And it's still there. Clearly a highly trafficked area.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » June 26th, 2015, 6:20 am

Here's the TIGER application that was submitted for the third main project back around 2009-2010. That specifically focused on the area between the Northtown yard and the junction at Coon Creek.

Page 9 has a breakdown of the costs. I'd forgotten that the bulk of the cost (65%) was really for operating and easement rights on the line. The real project cost was projected at $40 million, but the easement rights added another $74 million ($114 million total). At the time, $15 million was also included for the Foley Boulevard grade separation, which seems to be proceeding along anyway at this point.

Anyway, I've always been confused by how the document described the Highway 610 issue as a "widening" of the bridge (another $10 million). The tracks pass underneath the highway, so it really needs a "lengthening". I always got the sinking feeling that MnDOT wanted to use this project to expand the highway, which is already three lanes each direction.

I've also been convinced that there's enough room for a third track already -- BNSF would just have to give up their unpaved service road that parallels the tracks and loop around on surface streets instead. The service road already loops around the nearby electrical substation and connects to 93rd Lane NW. If there legitimately isn't enough room, it's probably only a matter of a few feet or inches.

The price of the easement rights really bugs me, though I suppose it's not just for the price of these few miles of track -- it's probably trying to account for the overall increase in passenger traffic that was proposed along the Northstar corridor. The big lump sum bothers me, but I suppose it might be better in the long run (like 50+ years long run) than some sort of track access fee like they tend to do in Europe.

Anyway, subtracting out the road/highway projects and the easement rights brings the price down to less than $15 million (at least back in 2009). That's one reason why I wish the railroads would just take it upon themselves to do passenger rail again. They don't really need to charge themselves for easement rights, though they certainly still have to be prudent about using their track capacity properly.

mattaudio
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mattaudio » June 26th, 2015, 6:56 am

It seems very clear that they wanted to spend $10 million of the TIGER request to add more capacity to TH 610 above the bridge (thus widening it in addition to lengthening it). Yikes. Also, why can't MnDOT figure out how to scan documents into PDF packets with text recognition?

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » June 27th, 2015, 12:44 pm

Flickr user Jacob Nelson has found some track panels laid out in Becker for some part of the second main project between there and Elk River: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21929373@N05/19018860340/

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » July 14th, 2015, 8:29 pm

Over the weekend I saw this photo from Steve Glischinski showing some of BNSF's rail work going on in Minneapolis, where the main line is being double-tracked between St. Anthony (right where the UMN transitway goes over the tracks) and Minneapolis Junction (I'm not sure exactly where it will end, but somewhere between East Hennepin and the Broadway/Central bridge). They're changing the routing through the yard area in the process -- probably something that could have been done decades ago after the lines across the Stone Arch Bridge and the No. 9 bridge were cut. The old alignment is off to the left (the south edge of the yard area, basically), but the new alignment more or less cuts straight through.

Image
Union Yard line relocation by steve55126, on Flickr

Here's a shot I took from the UMN transitway bridge:

Image
_mg_0196-edit by Michael Hicks, on Flickr

I also went farther down the line and took a few shots from the 15th Avenue pedestrian bridge. It looks like the number of tracks in this area is being reduced by at least 1, though in the process it's still apparently doubling up the number of main tracks. They're obviously still in the process of making changes, though.

Image
_mg_0223-edit by Michael Hicks, on Flickr

Image
_mg_0227-edit by Michael Hicks, on Flickr

Image
_mg_0234-edit by Michael Hicks, on Flickr

I also wandered over to the Broadway/Central bridge, but didn't any obvious changes happening.

Depending on how these things all fit together, this may free up space for a dedicated passenger track on the south side of the corridor.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby seanrichardryan » July 14th, 2015, 8:41 pm

This seems odd to me. Is it the perspective or is there an awful wiggle in the those tracks?
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » July 14th, 2015, 8:47 pm

The tracks haven't been properly ballasted and adjusted yet. That's just temporarily sneaking around the signal pole, which I'm assuming will be torn out shortly.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby FISHMANPET » August 18th, 2015, 3:20 pm

Are there any active users of the Midtown line east of Hiawatha? There's a little siding that it looks like MetroTransit uses there to offload new LRT vehicles from flatbeds onto the LRT tracks, but otherwise CP just uses it for car storage. The tracks that cross Lake St just seem pointless, and CP clearly doesn't care about the area, as I've seen them run trains through during rush hour. I'd really like for those to just be abandoned and something else done with that area, but I'm not sure how feasible that even is.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby HiawathaGuy » August 18th, 2015, 3:37 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:Are there any active users of the Midtown line east of Hiawatha? There's a little siding that it looks like MetroTransit uses there to offload new LRT vehicles from flatbeds onto the LRT tracks, but otherwise CP just uses it for car storage. The tracks that cross Lake St just seem pointless, and CP clearly doesn't care about the area, as I've seen them run trains through during rush hour. I'd really like for those to just be abandoned and something else done with that area, but I'm not sure how feasible that even is.
I'm pretty sure ADM (@ 35th & Hiawatha) still uses that line periodically.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby FISHMANPET » August 18th, 2015, 4:07 pm

That's south of Lake St through. The part that bothers me is the few hundred feet north of lake that just ends by the greenway crossing. If there's no service on the Midtown tracks then I'd wonder if there's any harm to operations in severing that. If you could get that land back, and the "ramp" going from Lake st to Hiawatha Northbound, you'd have quite a bit of developable land that you could use to knit the two sides of Hiawatha back together.


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