Northstar Commuter Rail

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
jebr
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 133
Joined: April 9th, 2013, 1:04 am
Location: St. Paul (Hamline-Midway)

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby jebr » July 29th, 2016, 8:44 pm

If a full-length trip isn't necessary, there's a couple options in Ramsey within walking distance, including a Caribou Coffee in the Coborn's and a Casey's General Store about 10 minutes away. With an hour layover there'd be enough time to go and pick up a coffee or a deli meal at the Coborn's in Ramsey (or walk to Casey's, if that's someone's cup of tea.)

mulad
Moderator
Posts: 2728
Joined: June 4th, 2012, 6:30 pm
Location: Saint Paul
Contact:

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » July 29th, 2016, 11:33 pm

I think the layover time in Big Lake shrunk a bit since the service was originally introduced. I remember being able to make it to the Big Lake Coborn's and back, but that doesn't quite seem feasible any longer. It can work to bring your own food/beverages and do a quick "picnic" at the Big Lake station (you're not supposed to eat on the train itself, although covered beverages are allowed).

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
Posts: 7299
Joined: June 19th, 2012, 2:04 pm
Location: NORI: NOrth of RIchfield

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » July 30th, 2016, 10:09 am

I see there's a bowling alley and a newer taproom on the frontage road between the train station and the downtown, if you wanted to do the longer layover option.

grant1simons2
IDS Center
Posts: 4019
Joined: February 8th, 2014, 11:33 pm
Location: Marcy-Holmes

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby grant1simons2 » July 30th, 2016, 10:45 am

The idea would be to fill in 5 hours without a car. It's a Streets.mn challenge!

Silophant
Moderator
Posts: 3000
Joined: June 20th, 2012, 4:33 pm
Location: 9Marq

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Silophant » July 30th, 2016, 7:05 pm

I could also go, depending on the weekend, and don't see any issues with spending 5 hours in a bowling alley and/or brewery.

MSPtoMKE
Rice Park
Posts: 480
Joined: June 20th, 2012, 8:15 pm
Location: Loring Heights
Contact:

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby MSPtoMKE » July 30th, 2016, 11:29 pm

Anoka is fairly doable on a weekend, and it is to a city with some semblance of urbanity. The main trouble is there isn't much time to walk to downtown Anoka and get back for the next train inbound, so you are looking at about 6 hours or so to entertain yourself. The other option is to bus one way and take the train the other. Or you could just use the bus as an option if you get bored and want to bail early. The bus is an option Mon-Sat.
My flickr photos.

SkyScraperKid
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 139
Joined: May 14th, 2016, 1:41 pm

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby SkyScraperKid » August 1st, 2016, 10:51 am

Who takes a train ride to only stay for 5 hours? Why not take the NorthStar/Connect Bus to St. Cloud and make a night stay or weekend of it? Be a good opportunity to explore downtown St. Cloud, heck maybe even take the Amtrak from St. Cloud to St. Paul back? Even if it's 2 and 1/2 hour ride according to online information, still might be a nice mini weekend.

That is unless you guys really really like bowling and/or gas station food and that is enough to make ya happy, then good for you!

grant1simons2
IDS Center
Posts: 4019
Joined: February 8th, 2014, 11:33 pm
Location: Marcy-Holmes

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby grant1simons2 » August 1st, 2016, 11:12 am

Who takes a train ride to only stay for 5 hours?
People who like day trips

DanPatchToget
Landmark Center
Posts: 202
Joined: March 30th, 2016, 1:26 pm

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » September 8th, 2016, 2:26 pm

Is there any chance of adding trips on weekdays? I'm thinking one more reverse commute trip in the morning and then going back southbound half an hour or an hour after the fifth southbound trip (7:48 or 8:18 a.m.), and then a second reverse commute in the evening which would go back to Big Lake as the sixth evening trip an hour after the fifth northbound trip (7:15 p.m.). Also if at all possible add a midday trip going to Big Lake and then back to Minneapolis around noon.

Not sure if any current upgrades BNSF has done would allow additional trips, and what the cost would be for trackage rights, but it seems that after 7 years of doing pretty much nothing with this line except a station in Ramsey that it's time for a small frequency increase and seeing how ridership does. That or finally building a station at Foley Boulevard.

MNdible
is great.
Posts: 5167
Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby MNdible » September 8th, 2016, 3:13 pm

I'd guess that any expansion is dependent on the third mainline project, and I'm not sure where that currently stands.

DanPatchToget
Landmark Center
Posts: 202
Joined: March 30th, 2016, 1:26 pm

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » September 9th, 2016, 2:13 pm

Would the third main be between Northtown and Coon Creek Junction?

MNdible
is great.
Posts: 5167
Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby MNdible » September 9th, 2016, 2:18 pm

My understanding is that it centers around the wye north of Foley Blvd.

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
Posts: 7299
Joined: June 19th, 2012, 2:04 pm
Location: NORI: NOrth of RIchfield

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » September 9th, 2016, 2:31 pm

It doesn't seem like it should be that big of an expense or hassle to triple track the main from Northtown to Coon Creek Jct. The only hangups I can imagine are: -Possibly the MN-610 bridge, which is not very wide. -Adding a 3rd bridge over Rice Creek.

mulad
Moderator
Posts: 2728
Joined: June 4th, 2012, 6:30 pm
Location: Saint Paul
Contact:

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » September 9th, 2016, 3:46 pm

I saved off the old 2010 TIGER grant application and have uploaded a copy here, since it's disappeared from MnDOT's website and is a bit outdated at this point. Page 9 has an estimated cost summary.

They made a request for $99 million on a total $113 million budget, which always struck me as very high for a single new track over that distance (about 6 miles), though $74 million of that was for "BNSF Operating and Easement Rights". The cost would increase the allowed number of trains (at least on that stretch) by 22 one-way trips on top of the current 12 for Northstar (and the 2 for the Empire Builder, I suppose). The new trips were intended to be split among expanded Northstar service, another daily round-trip to Fargo, and the Northern Lights Express to Duluth. That money would also cover the easement for the Foley Boulevard station.

By comparison, there was a $107.5 million easement for the Northstar's existing 39-mile route with its 12 weekday trains and 6 per day on weekends.

The $113 million total minus the operating/easement rights gives a remainder of $39 million, though there wasn't a line item for the actual track construction cost, just a bunch of supporting improvements needed.

I've contended in the past that the MN-610 "widening" (listed at $10 million in the application) isn't really needed, and I've always been confused by that description. "Lengthening" is what might be needed, as the bridges are 60 feet long. Centerline-to-centerline spacing of the tracks there is about 15 or 16 feet, so three tracks could fit with 12-15 feet to spare.

Grade-separation of Foley Boulevard seems to be moving forward as a separate project, which potentially knocks another $15 million off the cost.

I'm not sure they really need any new right-of-way for the project. Except for the MN-610 chokepoint, they seem to have a corridor at least 120 feet wide elsewhere along the route. To limit impact, most of the new track should go on the east side of the existing tracks, though the Fridley station was built on the west side, so the southernmost stretch would need to go there instead. That's not a big problem, though -- just a matter of making it fit well.

intercomnut
Union Depot
Posts: 376
Joined: April 23rd, 2015, 1:04 pm

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby intercomnut » November 21st, 2016, 4:29 pm

Looks like MNDOT has saved Northstar Link bus service for the next five years. They will pay 80% of the route's operating costs and also cover 80% of the cost of buying 5 new coach buses. The current buses are past their life expectancy.

http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/1228 ... h-7th-year

DanPatchToget
Landmark Center
Posts: 202
Joined: March 30th, 2016, 1:26 pm

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » November 21st, 2016, 10:04 pm

So how exactly are they going to fill more seats on the trains? The best average weekday ridership the Northstar ever achieved was 3,100 before the polar vortex and BNSF traffic ruined the reliability and it went back to square one. There is no way Northstar could ever get the riders required for federal funding of the St. Cloud extension with the current schedule.

mulad
Moderator
Posts: 2728
Joined: June 4th, 2012, 6:30 pm
Location: Saint Paul
Contact:

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mulad » November 23rd, 2016, 8:39 am

I'd like to see them work on the Saturday and Sunday bus schedule so it's possible to go from Minneapolis to St. Cloud and back on those days. They have it set up so people can come into the city, but not the other way around.

In the meantime, I should really try taking Jefferson Lines to St. Cloud sometime. They end up at the St. Cloud central bus station just like the Northstar Link does, and they leave from Minneapolis over at the Hawthorne Transportation Center / ramp, which is basically an extension of the "A" ramp in the ABC Ramps complex and not far from Target Field.

jebr
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 133
Joined: April 9th, 2013, 1:04 am
Location: St. Paul (Hamline-Midway)

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby jebr » November 29th, 2016, 10:50 pm

I know we discussed it this summer a bit, but would anyone be interested in doing a Northstar day trip this winter? I don't know if Big Lake would work the best if we wanted to have an actual destination at the end (there's no other public transit options and the walk to any retailer would be quite far) but Anoka could work well for a day trip. It would work decently well on a Saturday, where there's always the 852 or 805 option from downtown should the weather be cold or we just want to leave early.

If there's interest (and the moderators are okay with it) I'd be willing to draw up an itinerary.

jebr
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 133
Joined: April 9th, 2013, 1:04 am
Location: St. Paul (Hamline-Midway)

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby jebr » November 30th, 2016, 12:24 am

jebr wrote:I know we discussed it this summer a bit, but would anyone be interested in doing a Northstar day trip this winter? I don't know if Big Lake would work the best if we wanted to have an actual destination at the end (there's no other public transit options and the walk to any retailer would be quite far) but Anoka could work well for a day trip. It would work decently well on a Saturday, where there's always the 852 or 805 option from downtown should the weather be cold or we just want to leave early.

If there's interest (and the moderators are okay with it) I'd be willing to draw up an itinerary.
So I may be really enthusiastic (maybe too much so?) for this idea. I drew up a couple of options that came to mind with a quick look of the map, paired with a bit of knowledge from the couple of turns I've done in Anoka. It's available on Dropbox here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/dfkp2y7f5fab6 ... s.pdf?dl=0

Let me know if either of those options sound appealing to anyone else. I'd be more than interested in going with a group of people on one of those options.

SkyScraperKid
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 139
Joined: May 14th, 2016, 1:41 pm

Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby SkyScraperKid » November 30th, 2016, 4:17 pm

Yea, I was thinking of taking the Northstar & Link bus to St. Cloud. Might have to stay a night or two to justify that long travel time. Although I never got around to it. Seems like such a snore to travel to any of the other stations, they seem so boring and lacking in walkability. Perhaps even using one way Amtrak from St. Paul to St. Cloud would be pretty fun. Might have to wait until spring to go myself. I do hate traveling during winter, even more when it's to places I rarely visit.


Return to “Transportation”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 3 guests