Northstar Commuter Rail

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » May 4th, 2017, 12:37 pm

Really cool to see stoops/steps from those first floor units down to the sidewalk. If Coon Rapids can do it, Minneapolis and inner-ring burbs can do it too. @sdho yes I'm comparing this to Richfield's pitched-roof no-door proposal along Cedar.

Vagueperson
Nicollet Mall
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Vagueperson » May 5th, 2017, 7:45 am

This is a good look.

Image

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » September 24th, 2017, 4:54 pm

New bus shuttles serving Fridley Station-http://www.startribune.com/anoka-county ... 446993683/

This seemed to be off the radar until this article was published, or maybe that's just me because I didn't hear anything about it. Hope the new services are successful.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » November 21st, 2017, 11:27 pm

Ever wondered what it would be like if Northstar ran to St. Paul? Wonder no more! Metro Transit is operating a Holiday Special Northstar train between Big Lake and SPUD. Its free, and first come first serve.

https://www.metrotransit.org/northstar- ... ion-depot-

Should be using BNSF trackage to get to SPUD, so either the Midway Sub. or St. Paul Sub. Amtrak uses Canadian Pacific's Merriam Park Sub. Travel time between Fridley and SPUD is 40 minutes. Pretending this was a commuter rail operation is that a good travel time?

RailBaronYarr
Capella Tower
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby RailBaronYarr » November 21st, 2017, 11:57 pm

Ehh... It's what, 16 miles of track from Fridley to SPUD, with no stops, in 40 minutes. That's 24 mph or 38 kph. Having just given commuter rail way more thought than I'd like, the numbers off the top of my head for the RER and S-Bahn are ~50 kph, and that includes stops every 1-2 miles or so.

mulad
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » December 3rd, 2017, 9:24 am

I measure the distance from Target Field to Fridley as about 7.9 miles, which is normally scheduled at 19 minutes, or 25 mph, so this isn't much different. Obviously that's not great either. I guess this implies to me that they'll probably run via the Midway Subdivision, which goes through a few rail yards. I feel that the St. Paul Subdivision (which runs north of Energy Park Drive) would be faster, but it's hard to say. They could also use both routes, one for the inbound trip and another for outbound.

For rare mileage, it probably doesn't hurt so much to run a bit slow, to give passengers a bit more of an opportunity to see the route.

Anyway, there will be a streets.mn group outing starting at 11:10 am at Target Field on Saturday (for the normal 11:30 outbound trip). The train should arrive in Big Lake at 12:22 pm, and the plan is to go to Lupulin Brewing for lunch/chatting. The southbound trip to Union Depot departs at 2:45 pm. It's probably a 12-15 minute walk from the brewery to the station, but probably a good idea to get there a bit early due to the free trip.

https://streets.mn/2017/11/30/join-stre ... star-trip/

mamundsen
Foshay Tower
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mamundsen » December 3rd, 2017, 7:07 pm

At Lupulin Brewing, tell Coach that Mike says hi. Maybe he'll hook you up. I've known him over a decade. Haven't made it out to BL yet.

Korh
City Center
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Korh » December 6th, 2017, 7:40 pm

This thought came to me when looking at the NLX thread, not counting target field station does anyone else kinda feel the Northstar is lacking in terms of connections at the stations, looking at METRO's website (and again not counting target field station) there are a total of 6 different routes that connect with 4 out of the 6 stations. So with that three questions spring up to me:

Can the current routes (887, 805, 812, 813, 815 and 850) be adjusted in terms of frequency, departure times, and route layout to encourage more people to transfer at there respected stations?

Are there any feasible routes that can be created to serve the stations that already have a connection (Big Lake, Anoka, Coon Rapids-Riverdale, and Fridley) as well as the ones that currently have no connection (Ramsey and Elk River)?

Would it help the Northstar's ridership number if all possible connections to the 6 stations north of target field, or is the only thing that will make the line worth it is the long sought after extension to St.Cloud?

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » December 6th, 2017, 11:02 pm

I'd like Route 10 to serve Fridley Station. Not all buses, just at times when a train is serving the station. Currently Route 10 is just outside acceptable walking distance to/from Fridley Station. I've done it before, but I like walking and I wasn't in a hurry to get anywhere.

gopherfan
City Center
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby gopherfan » December 7th, 2017, 12:11 am

Korh wrote: Can the current routes (887, 805, 812, 813, 815 and 850) be adjusted in terms of frequency, departure times, and route layout to encourage more people to transfer at there respected stations?
NO, Northstar is COMMUTER RAIL, which in the suburbs = Park & Ride plain and simple. Besides the 850, which is express rush only (and usually faster than the train to downtown from Foley) the others are local routes for shopping, primarily the senior citizens of the communities. Perhaps Fridley could use better connections to Mercy/Unity, Northtown and Medtronic, but I see no real hope for the other stations to get better connections.

All that said you are missing the 852, which essentially IS the Northstar all day bus, as it generally follows the same route to Anoka. It would be fantastic if this route got better, more frequent service. They tried connecting it all the way to Ramsey but ridership wasn't there. In fact the new overpass built at Armstrong Blvd used CTIB money under the guise that both Northstar & 852 would benefit...

Korh
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Korh » December 7th, 2017, 7:44 am

I only suggested better routes connections on the off chance it might encourage people that are less dependent on cars to take it if they live outside of walking distance from the stations.

mulad
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » December 7th, 2017, 12:42 pm

There may be some tweaks to existing routes that could be made. I kind of want to see a circulator bus up in Elk River to zig-zag north and west of the station through town, but I feel the planners made a pretty fundamental error by putting the station where they did. I'm not sure how much ridership that would add (likely not much). Further south, the line could probably use a few more stations. I could see useful additions at Broadway & Central, Lowry Ave, and maybe even St. Anthony Parkway in Minneapolis, and maybe Osborne Road up in Fridley.

But a major problem is the frequency and duration of service. If we think of this like a tree with a trunk and branches, the trunk is very weak. Each Northstar train trip is carrying 200 to 300 passengers, so it's moving significant groups of people each time it goes by, but that's only happening during the morning and afternoon peak times. There really needs to be off-peak service too.

I've wondered if there could be an agreement made with BNSF to run Northstar trains at slower speeds for off-peak times. The train averages about 45 mph on its normal schedule from Big Lake to Minneapolis, even though its top speed is ~80 mph (though they run slower from Fridley southward). The freight trains that go on the line are limited to around 50 or 60 mph. I'm not quite sure what they average, but I wonder if we could run Northstar at an average of 40 mph and be able to slot in between the freights more easily for midday and evening service.

It's often said that BNSF essentially runs their freight service much like a single-track line when Northstar is in operation, just because the freights have to stay out of its way. If the speeds were more compatible, BNSF might be more amenable to having more trains run. But they'd probably still want a boatload of cash to allow the increased service, and they might still want more track to be added somewhere (either a full third track in portions, or perhaps some passing sidings).

Anyway, that would make for a more substantial trunk line that would be easier to integrate with connecting buses. The commuter rail network should also be expanded to run other routes too. Hopefully that would allow even more operational efficiency -- they could run with a lower overhead of train equipment on standby, for instance. But of course, that's not on anybody's radar, politically...

DanPatchToget
Landmark Center
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » December 9th, 2017, 8:42 pm

Well the Holiday Train was packed, which is good and hopefully it means it'll return next year, or maybe make it a daily occurrence. ;) The only problem was crowd control at SPUD when we arrived and departed. Going back north the trip was around 10 minutes faster.

Who else rode? I went Fridley-SPUD-Fridley.

Silophant
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Silophant » December 9th, 2017, 10:09 pm

I went with the Streets.mn group, taking the morning train up to Big Lake, hanging out at Lupilin Brewing for a while, then taking the holiday train all the way to SPUD. It was a good time, and was cool to see two trains at once sitting at the SPUD platform.

The Heights
Block E
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby The Heights » December 9th, 2017, 11:06 pm

I rode from Target Field to Big Lake and back to SPUD with the group. It was a great time- I'd definitely do future group transit rides. Nice to nerd out with some fellow railfans and talk transit and housing policy.

Best Northstar use recommendation was to ride it to Big Lake with bikes, bike to Lake Maria state park and camp... will definitely have to try that next summer.

Also was nice to get some rare mileage. A BNSF employee riding with his kids overheard some of us discussing what subdivision we were on etc and asked if we worked for the railroad... not sure if I should feel proud or embarrassed about that.
Joe

Korh
City Center
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Korh » December 9th, 2017, 11:13 pm

I had stuff to do in the morning so I had to skip to full meet up but I did manage to hop on later at the Fridley station by taking the 852

few things I took away from the experience
-The Fridley station is cold as hell in the winter, mainly stood in front of a heater in the underground area most of the time.
-The Northstar probably had more passengers on that single train then all of the month of December combined.
-Didn't get that good of a window but did get to see some of the track and noticed that it was mostly double track so I figured that if there would be any demand for a train or 2 to view of towards SPUD, might be somewhat faster than having to transfer at target field.
-SPUD also probably hasn't seen so many people get off of one train in such a short amount of time since the 40s. (is it true that the shear amount of people broke the escalator or as it turned of in advanced)

mulad
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » December 10th, 2017, 10:21 am

Yeah, the train really exercised the limits of what the Union Depot platform gate can handle. I saw someone mention that the train probably had about 1,400 people on it, which seems to pencil out. There were 6 cars on the train and there are 145 seats in most cars (a bit less in the cab cars), with some parents holding kids in their laps and a lot of standees (if it managed to reach a 2:1 ratio of people to seats, it would be up in the 1,700+ range).

The crowd was moving too slowly for the escalator to work, since everyone had to funnel through the single set of double-doors at the gate to the waiting room. It had been running for a little while, but it's good it shut down -- I wouldn't be surprised if someone took a tumble and the emergency stop was used to keep things from getting worse. It took me close to 20 minutes to get off the platform (I took a couple minutes to take a picture and chat a little, but most of it was spent slowly climbing the stairs).

I was pleasantly surprised that the inbound trip took the St. Paul Subdivision, since I think it's the more scenic route. I saw a place where I used to work and an old apartment. I had used to stare out at the tracks hoping I could ride them someday, so it was fun to actually be on them. I understand the train went back on the Midway Sub, which was fine since it was dark out and it would be hard to see anything anyway.

The most unique highlight for me was going through the short tunnels at Westminster Junction on the way in. I'm always curious about how many people randomly a train going by. The exit ramp from northbound U.S. 52 to 7th Street just after the tunnels would have been one of the best spots for that to happen.


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