Freight Rail News and Happenings

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mulad
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » September 10th, 2015, 5:33 pm

The second track has started to be laid between Big Lake and Becker.

http://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local ... /72011320/

Here are a couple of shots from Jacob Nelson on Flickr by the Big Lake Northstar station (the station itself is on a spur):

https://flic.kr/p/yb9CWG

https://flic.kr/p/yb9DaN

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » September 16th, 2015, 1:04 pm

The injunction against BNSF's use of the second main track in La Crosse has been stayed, though the state district court case against the project will continue at least until the judge rules on existing arguments in October.

http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/j ... 4fc3b.html

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby seanrichardryan » September 28th, 2015, 8:23 pm

This could go in several threads... http://www.startribune.com/a-bicyclist- ... 329865731/

I guess this wouldn't bode well for more ped/ cycle crossings across RR property.
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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mattaudio » September 28th, 2015, 8:55 pm

Yeah, I don't know what to think about that. I'm all for what he's doing, but not if it means it's even more difficult to get new ped/cycle RR crossings (which seem like very low-risk crossings compared to motor vehicle crossings).

While in Duluth this afternoon, I checked out CN's double-tracking and realignment process from Gary-New Duluth up Steelton Hill to I-35. Entirely new alignment in some spots, with 30+ feet high embankments. Multiple new bridges. Wow, what a project. Phone was dead, so no photos, but some links below. I wonder if they'll ever double-track the bridge over I-35 just north of the CR 3 interchange, or (long shot) connect with the old DWP grade somewhere on the hill to use the disused I-35 underpass just north of their I-35 overpass. Just northwest of I-35 is their junction that splits the old DWP mainline (now part of CN's trunk from Canada to Chicago) and the connection to the old DM&R iron ore mainline. http://www.r2parks.net/DM&IRmap.JPG

http://tcbmag.com/Opinion/Columns/North ... -Two-Rails
http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos. ... ton%20Hill
http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/20 ... ck-project
https://www.flickr.com/search/?tags=steeltonhill

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby Anondson » October 11th, 2015, 9:36 pm

Railroad companies warning that eight years wasn't enough time to install safety equipment mandated by congress, need three more years ... Or else.

http://www.startribune.com/railroads-wa ... 331951581/

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » October 12th, 2015, 12:20 am

I'm not a fan of extending the deadline, but it's necessary at this point. I think there were only a couple of existing PTC implementations in the U.S. when the law was passed in 2008, but they had designs that couldn't interoperate at all. It's taken time for them to get fully developed and get things standardized so that locomotives should be able to pass between rail lines that PTC implementations from different vendors, but there's still at least one new standard coming as well (Caltrain has decided to be different for whatever reason). There are some train blogger-pundits that I follow who have pushed the idea that we should have borrowed technology from the Europeans, who are a bit farther along with their equivalent systems, but it's too late for that at this point.

One of the big hurdles ended up being licensing holdups with the FCC. Disputes over the installation of cellular towers over the last few decades led to the creation of a system where American Indian tribes are included in the decision-making process. It turns out that PTC needs a huge number of trackside towers (about 20,000) to communicate between trains and the equipment for switches, signals, and other things on and near the tracks. It took until early last year before that licensing system was properly streamlined. And of course it has taken time to recruit and train enough people to do the installation of everything.

If all of the planets had aligned, the original deadline would have worked, but just over seven years from law to mandated implementation is pretty short for something on this scale. Adding another three years would at least get them to a nice round 10-year window.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » October 29th, 2015, 9:34 am

A project to create a rail bypass on the west side of Willmar received a TIGER grant of $10 million.

https://www.transportation.gov/briefing ... ger-grants

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby Anondson » October 29th, 2015, 9:41 am

What is the impact of this to surrounding rail lines? That is, will this be like a new highway lane that induces traffic that otherwise wouldn't be there?

Will traffic routing through the twin cities be sent through there now the hours delays will stop?

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mattaudio » October 29th, 2015, 9:46 am

Basically Willmar was an old splitting point for the Great Northern Rwy, where MSP/CHI traffic could head NW to Fargo or SW to Sioux Falls. This was long before oil coming from North Dakota/Canada or coal coming from Wyoming. Oil, and to a lesser extent coal, are often routed north-south through Willmar. But this movement required trains to pull into Willmar Yard, the engines would have to go to the other end of the train, and the train would reverse out of the yard. This new $10m "bypass" is really completing a large wye on the west side of Willmar, so trains can go between Sioux Falls and Fargo directly, no longer requiring this change of directions in Willmar Yard.

I don't expect it to have any impact one way or another on rail traffic heading through MSP.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby FISHMANPET » October 29th, 2015, 9:53 am

Speaking of wyes and reversing, I was walking under the Hiawatha intersection at Lake St last night on the north side, and stopped to read the Lake St History marker there. Turns out there was no direct connection between the tracks east and west of Hiawatha, a train would have had to pull into the yards and back out or move the locomotive to the other side. Considering this would have been all steam and running steam backwards wasn't very good for any significant distance, an interesting layout.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mattaudio » October 29th, 2015, 10:20 am

True, though railroad operations were quite different in that day.
- Much of the traffic heading east/west/south from Hi-Lake was funneling towards the Milwaukee Road depot downtown. Passenger traffic.
- There were not unit trains, transcontinental trains, etc. There was significantly more switching of individual cars along the path of one shipment, which is also why there were plenty more small/medium-sized yards along routes and across our metro. I doubt there would have been much traffic going past MSP that wasn't switched in MSP. So the Milwaukee Road would have to switch those cars somewhere. (Mulad: Did MILW ever have a hump yard in MSP?)
- Milwaukee Road also had a bypass of MSP, from Hastings to Cologne. Their western mainline was what is now the TC&W, so they had a route from Hastings Yard (requiring a reverse, though) through Vermillion, Farmington, Lakeville, Prior Lake (crossing the lake), Shakopee, and Chaska before connecting back up west of Chaska. Unfortunately this ROW is completely abandoned and turned back to adjacent landowners... it could have been a cool trail of some sort.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby Anondson » October 29th, 2015, 10:57 am

mattaudio wrote:I don't expect it to have any impact one way or another on rail traffic heading through MSP.
I thought I read in these stories about it that today this route saw two trains per day and with this change expected seven a day, in addition to chopping off 2 hours from this Wilmar route. Maybe I misread that...

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby MNdible » October 29th, 2015, 12:34 pm

Right, but the trains that will be impacted by this change are trains that aren't going to Minneapolis.

Here's a PDF showing the plan.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby froggie » October 30th, 2015, 10:48 am

FISHMANPET wrote:Speaking of wyes and reversing, I was walking under the Hiawatha intersection at Lake St last night on the north side, and stopped to read the Lake St History marker there. Turns out there was no direct connection between the tracks east and west of Hiawatha, a train would have had to pull into the yards and back out or move the locomotive to the other side. Considering this would have been all steam and running steam backwards wasn't very good for any significant distance, an interesting layout.
Originally, no. But a direct connection was added sometime in the late '40s/early '50s.

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Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby Anondson » October 30th, 2015, 11:05 am

MNdible wrote:Right, but the trains that will be impacted by this change are trains that aren't going to Minneapolis.

Here's a PDF showing the plan.
Neat to see the map of it.

I guess my question is still where are these extra trains per day coming from after this gets done. Is this taking freight that would have gone on highways? Are these trains that were taking a more distant train route? I'm just curious is all...

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » November 18th, 2015, 12:10 pm

Canadian Pacific has extended an offer to buy Norfolk Southern for $28 billion, though it's hard to say whether NS will be amenable to the takeover. If this happens, I suspect CP's United States headquarters could move away from Minneapolis.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/ ... k-southern

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby JT$ » November 18th, 2015, 2:02 pm

mulad wrote:Canadian Pacific has extended an offer to buy Norfolk Southern for $28 billion, though it's hard to say whether NS will be amenable to the takeover. If this happens, I suspect CP's United States headquarters could move away from Minneapolis.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/ ... k-southern
Even if NS is amenable, I'm not sure how easy it will be to pass regulatory hurdles. CP is thirsty for a merger though after approaching CSX earlier in the year.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby mulad » November 18th, 2015, 2:30 pm

Yeah, if this merger/purchase happens, some parts of the system(s) would need to be sold off to other railroads or spun off as their own entities.

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby Anondson » December 30th, 2015, 4:11 pm

BNSF furloughing workers as traffic slowing.

http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/12/30 ... -employees

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Re: Freight Rail News and Happenings

Postby SteveXC500 » December 31st, 2015, 12:19 pm

Lower commodity prices showing impact here.

Hopefully BNSF keeps its workers trained during the furlough, making it easier to bring them back on without additional training.


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