Northstar Commuter Rail

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
Bakken2016
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Bakken2016 » March 5th, 2018, 11:25 am

Northstar Link cancelled services for the afternoon due to the weather. Another reason Northstar needs to be extended to Saint Cloud!

tmart
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby tmart » March 5th, 2018, 12:10 pm

Bakken2016 wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 11:25 am
Northstar Link cancelled services for the afternoon due to the weather. Another reason Northstar needs to be extended to Saint Cloud!
It really surprises me that we don't see a stronger demand for commuter rail in MN given its weather resilience compared to highway transit.

Bakken2016
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Bakken2016 » March 5th, 2018, 12:21 pm

tmart wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 12:10 pm
Bakken2016 wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 11:25 am
Northstar Link cancelled services for the afternoon due to the weather. Another reason Northstar needs to be extended to Saint Cloud!
It really surprises me that we don't see a stronger demand for commuter rail in MN given its weather resilience compared to highway transit.
It has been updated, they are running one trip of the Link. I totally agree.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » March 5th, 2018, 6:47 pm

tmart wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 12:10 pm
Bakken2016 wrote:
March 5th, 2018, 11:25 am
Northstar Link cancelled services for the afternoon due to the weather. Another reason Northstar needs to be extended to Saint Cloud!
It really surprises me that we don't see a stronger demand for commuter rail in MN given its weather resilience compared to highway transit.
Short answer: Strong NIMBYism and we're cheapskates.

Long answer:
-We don't want to deal with negotiating with the railroads (just look at how we're doing with BNSF on the light rail extensions)
-People think buses can do the job fine as long as we plow around the clock and dump enough salt to make our lakes and rivers more salty than Salt Lake (okay that's an exaggeration, but actually our water bodies are getting saltier)
-Quite a few abandoned rights-of-way could be used for commuter rail but that may involve realigning or removing a trail, dealing with developments that have popped up next to the right-of-way since it was abandoned, and NIMBYism
-In Northstar's case we would need a lot more capacity so freight and commuter can operate seamlessly throughout the day
-People jumped on the "Northstar is a failure" bandwagon in 2013 when the polar vortex and increased oil train traffic caused significant delays (because cars and buses are never late, right?), but those problems have been fixed
-On top of the previous point, cold and snow can slow down trains to a certain extant, but thats in extreme cases (over a foot of snow or -20 degree polar vortex)
-In areas where passenger trains aren't the norm people assume its like Amtrak; slow and constantly delayed

mattaudio
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » March 6th, 2018, 9:42 am

When Northstar was built and the oil train traffic caused performance problems, the BNSF mainline was single track between Big Lake (end of the Northstar line) and Becker (where the Sherco coal spur came in). BNSF spent their own money on double tracking this segment and adding huge investment in advanced signaling and new crossover switches, meaning there's probably enough capacity for Northstar extension whether or not BNSF wants to admit it.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » March 7th, 2018, 7:26 am

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/video/382 ... portation/

I'm curious how far out people drive to get to the Northstar park & rides. I had a friend who lived in Norwood/Young America, drove to Southwest Station, and took an express bus from there to the U.

mplsjaromir
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mplsjaromir » March 7th, 2018, 8:19 am

I know someone who lives in Zimmerman who drives to the Northstar.

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LRV Op Dude
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby LRV Op Dude » April 4th, 2018, 6:14 am

Blog: Old-Twin Cities Transit New-Twin Cities Transit

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AKA: Bus Driver Dude

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » April 4th, 2018, 8:07 am

I appreciate GOP support for trying to get Northstar to St. Cloud, but the fact of the matter is it will cost money to do it the right way. No shortcuts, that's how we ended up with a Big Lake terminus. Only one roundtrip train per day between Minneapolis and St. Cloud will be of little help.

Bakken2016
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Bakken2016 » April 4th, 2018, 8:21 am

DanPatchToget wrote:
April 4th, 2018, 8:07 am
I appreciate GOP support for trying to get Northstar to St. Cloud, but the fact of the matter is it will cost money to do it the right way. No shortcuts, that's how we ended up with a Big Lake terminus. Only one roundtrip train per day between Minneapolis and St. Cloud will be of little help.
It's only one round trip??????? That is useless......

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby DanPatchToget » April 4th, 2018, 8:59 am

Bakken2016 wrote:
April 4th, 2018, 8:21 am
DanPatchToget wrote:
April 4th, 2018, 8:07 am
I appreciate GOP support for trying to get Northstar to St. Cloud, but the fact of the matter is it will cost money to do it the right way. No shortcuts, that's how we ended up with a Big Lake terminus. Only one roundtrip train per day between Minneapolis and St. Cloud will be of little help.
It's only one round trip??????? That is useless......
I should mention that was in the original proposal, and I assume this time around it'll be the same with 4 roundtrips to/from Big Lake instead of 5 (not including the reverse commute).

mattaudio
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » April 4th, 2018, 9:03 am

One positive thing about this proposal is that it would continue to the relatively central Amtrak (ex Northern Pacific) depot across the river from Downtown St. Cloud.

Of course, I think they should consider more than one stop in the St. Cloud metro, and use the rail bridge across the river. Going northbound:
- Lincoln Ave / Hwy 10 (existing Northstar Link park and ride)
- 8th Ave / Courthouse / Downtown St. Cloud
- Hwy 15 / Crossroads Center terminus, park and ride + layover station

MNdible
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby MNdible » April 4th, 2018, 9:16 am


mattaudio
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » April 4th, 2018, 9:40 am

Indeed, think of the TOD potential. And in the meantime it's still only about 1000 ft to the edge of the walkable core of St. Cloud's eastside.

But the bigger factor is that the existing station is a 17 minute walk to the downtown, whereas the Northstar Link park and ride location is a 39 minute walk, with significant sections along high-speed roads without shoulders let alone sidewalks.

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LRV Op Dude
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby LRV Op Dude » April 4th, 2018, 10:01 am

Where would people park?
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SurlyLHT
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby SurlyLHT » April 4th, 2018, 10:37 am

LRV Op Dude wrote:
April 4th, 2018, 10:01 am
Where would people park?
I had the same thought. This station appears to have as much parking as McDonalds. I guess on the street?

MNdible
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby MNdible » April 4th, 2018, 10:50 am

If you think hundreds of people a day are going to use this station, they're not.

If you think this extension will "fix" Northstar, it won't.

mattaudio
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby mattaudio » April 4th, 2018, 11:26 am

Regional rail that connects actual walkable places is far more useful than commuter rail from corn-fields-turned-park-and-rides that are clearly not working. And, unlike peak hour commuter service from Big Lake to Minneapolis, a strong regional transit network (including rail) is worth state subsidy.

https://streets.mn/2016/10/06/lessons-f ... nger-rail/
https://streets.mn/2016/08/23/a-broader ... minnesota/

Of course, you'll notice above that I propose using a combination of car-friendly parking-based and walkable place-based stations for the St. Cloud metropolitan area.

Multimodal
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Multimodal » April 4th, 2018, 2:34 pm

Having never been to St. Cloud, I was surprised to find out it’s barely larger than an average Twin Cities suburb.

While average density (across a country) may be similar in Europe to Minnesota/US, it’s basically cities among farms there, and not the consistent low density found in the US (excepting major cities). So linking European cities (even if they’re small, they’re dense) with rail is much easier.

We do need to start inter-city rail here, but I see from the size and distance of Minnesota cities that getting high ridership is going to be a long, slow slog.


Bakken2016
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Re: Northstar Commuter Rail

Postby Bakken2016 » April 4th, 2018, 2:55 pm

Multimodal wrote:
April 4th, 2018, 2:34 pm
Having never been to St. Cloud, I was surprised to find out it’s barely larger than an average Twin Cities suburb.

While average density (across a country) may be similar in Europe to Minnesota/US, it’s basically cities among farms there, and not the consistent low density found in the US (excepting major cities). So linking European cities (even if they’re small, they’re dense) with rail is much easier.

We do need to start inter-city rail here, but I see from the size and distance of Minnesota cities that getting high ridership is going to be a long, slow slog.
Honestly Rochester and Duluth need to be connected first.


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