Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension)

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mattaudio
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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby mattaudio » July 26th, 2013, 10:03 am

-1

UptownSport
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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby UptownSport » July 26th, 2013, 10:32 am

And they just killed it- These overages are the same as supplying ammunition for enemy's cannon

kiliff75
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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby kiliff75 » July 26th, 2013, 7:41 pm

With costs escalating for a lot of the preferred options, anyone remember how much the Uptown options were? Is it even close to the price of the preferred routes?

mattaudio
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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby mattaudio » July 26th, 2013, 8:17 pm

Any chance we could get Minneapolis and St. Louis Park to agree upon this?
- Green line to Royalston, Van White, Penn, and West End
- Yellow Line (I decree): St. Anthony Main, Gateway, 8th and Nicollet, Convention Center/Loring Park, Franklin Ave/Stevens Square, Greenway/Eat Street, Greenway/Lyndale, Greenway/Hennepin, West Lake, Belt Line, Wooddale, Louisiana, Blake/Hopkins, terminating at Shady Oak.

I bet we could do all of this AND have more actual ridership than the current 3A plan.

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby UptownSport » July 26th, 2013, 9:04 pm

Like it!

Just extend Hiawatha/central!?

Yellow could be a trolley, fit St Anthony Main and Nicollet perfectly!
It'd far less obstrusive than LRT.
Are you saying Yellow would branch off 'planned' Nicollet street car?

orangevening
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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby orangevening » July 27th, 2013, 10:06 am

I'm sold on Nick's Hennepin tunnel idea. Especially since its practically parallel to the current route. It could jog back NW after a Franklin/Hennepin station and get back to the original Van White and Penn stations. Any knowledge why this was never considered. Conflict with Lowry tunnel perhaps?

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby UptownSport » July 27th, 2013, 11:46 am

I'd shoot my mouth off and say cost would be silly high;
but since price seems to be no object ...

I'm more at Matt's idea instead of trying to find ways to save a bad project that just beached itself

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Anondson
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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby Anondson » July 27th, 2013, 6:31 pm

If we're doing a tunnel, tunnel under Hennepin. Simultaneously with street cars down Nicollet then Chicago soon after. IMO.

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby stp1980 » July 29th, 2013, 7:45 am

Speaking from a point of near total technical ignorance on trains, would it be possible to have the freight and light rail share a track for this last leg? Seems like there are not that many freight trains (so why build two sets of tracks?), and if the time of day could be limited for the freights, then why could they not share the track?

Is the gauge different on the wheel base? Could the freight trains run below the height of the electric overhead if they are diesel? or would they damage it? (We are not talking a mainline track here!) We could probably buy a special locomotive for the railroad, it might be cheaper than the cost of a tunnel.

The larger point is that it seems like there is a solution out there that doesn't involve the project getting killed due to a ballooning price tag. The bigger question is can we act as a metro and make a big project like this happen?

talindsay
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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby talindsay » July 29th, 2013, 8:01 am

There is no technical reason light rail trains can't roll on freight tracks, but that isn't really an option here because if there is any connection to the national freight system then the whole system falls under FRA rules - including signaling and the requirement that trains be able to withstand a collision with freight trains. Costs would be dramatically higher and the system would be less efficient.

This is actually done in San Diego but i think they got a waiver of some sort, and i know each system is exclusive at its time - freight overnight, light rail by day.

Finally, recall that we spent $100m for ten slots in perpetuity on the freight tracks for northstar - this would require 18 solid hours each day of rights, which would be very expensive indeed.

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby min-chi-cbus » July 29th, 2013, 8:48 am

How much did the 3C corridor cost, does anyone remember? Did that include a subway/tunnel under Hennepin?

*Edit: This is all I found:

Cost estimates from HCRRA Powerpoint presentation dated August 10, 2009 made to SW Policy Advisory Committee which showed capital cost of $1.1 to $1.2 billion for 3A and $1.5 to $1.8 billion for 3C options and operating costs of $23 to $25 million annually for 3A and $27 to $29 million annually for 3C options. Revised 9/14/09 BT.


I wonder then if these costs are still in the same ballpark today, or whether by changing the alignment that we'd have to re-submit the route for Federal funding, possibly jeapordizing the project altogether?
Last edited by min-chi-cbus on July 29th, 2013, 8:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

mulad
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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby mulad » July 29th, 2013, 8:54 am

It's certainly possible for freight and light rail trains to share track, since they do operate on the same gauge of 4 feet 8-1/2 inches. The Federal Transit Administration and Federal Railroad Administration typically require the operations to be divided up by time of day, so freight service would probably have to be scheduled for late at night. That could could certainly increase costs for the freight operator, and would reduce their flexibility a lot.

I'm not sure how common that is, though -- Some examples I know of use diesel-powered LRVs instead of electrically-powered ones like the NCTD Sprinter in the San Diego area, New Jersey Transit's River Line between Camden and Trenton, and then there's the Capital MetroRail line in Austin, TX (which they call "commuter rail" despite using almost exactly the same equipment as the River Line's "light rail" -- though it definitely has a commuter-oriented schedule). However, I've also seen freight spurs along some UTA TRAX lines in the Salt Lake City area, and I believe all of those routes have catenary for LRVs.

The FRA and FTA have slowly gotten a bit more open about the possibility of sharing track between freight and passenger operations -- the NJT River Line was designed with mixed freight & passenger service in mind, but apparently the freight service died off and it was never really used. I believe Austin's Capital MetroRail shares track with freight trains at the same time, but again that's "commuter rail" with relatively infrequent scheduling (half-hourly at peak, hourly off-peak).

For many decades now, the FRA has always been overly concerned with the ability of trains to hold up when collisions happen, though they've always had some pretty kooky ideas about how that should work, more or less equivalent to how automakers thought cars should be built back in the 1950s -- Make the frame really stiff so the train cars will just bounce off each other in a crash. They really should have been working on making signaling systems cheaper and more effective to prevent the possibility of collisions in the first place.

For the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars we're currently looking at for either colocation or relocation, a very good signaling system could be installed on the line. The main problem is that freight trains need 1-2 miles of open track in front of them in order to stop safely. Deceleration is typically limited to between 0.5 (mixed freight) and 1 mph per second (intermodal and unit trains) for freight, but there can be several seconds before the brakes even engage, particularly on long trains -- air brakes need to get filled with/released of air, and that takes time. The amount of time required for brakes to engage can be reduced by adding an extra locomotive on the tail end, or sometimes just an extra rail car with a generator and air compressor system in it.

I think it's a reasonable alternative to consider. And of course if all else fails, the LRVs can stop/accelerate almost instantly in comparison to the freight train, so if an emergency were to crop up, the LRV operator could probably scoot out of the way without much trouble (it requires knowing that the train is there, but LRVs are loaded with cameras and could be outfitted with radar).

Precise schedules would need to be worked out so that the freight train doesn't disrupt LRT operations. Possibly a significant challenge if service is running every 10 minutes, though I think that's just barely doable. And would people care all that much if the line needs a couple of 15-minute gaps through the course of the day?

Anyway, I do want to mention that this is a mainline track, even though it heavily used. It's the former Milwaukee Road transcontinental line to the Pacific Northwest, though large chunks of it have been abandoned out west. I believe Twin Cities & Western owns most of the track between Appleton and Minneapolis, though I believe a short segment close to the Midtown Greenway is technicaly still owned by Canadian Pacific through their Soo Line subsidiary. I believe the Kenilworth segment is owned by Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority. Twin Cities & Western also has a subsidiary called Minnesota Prairie Line where the track is owned by the Minnesota Valley Regional Railroad Authority, and I believe their operations are subsidized by the MVRRA. I believe the MPL route is a former Minneapolis & St. Louis line.

(I believe I've got to come up with something more creative than "I believe"...)

Here's a quick map I drew up of the system -- I'm not sure how much of the track really gets used on a regular basis -- the Minnesota Prairie Line in particular sees very little traffic, particularly west of Winthrop (only about 1/3 of the way down that line).



The cost to run Northstar on BNSF's mainline with 50-60 trains/day is not especially relevant to this route with a frequency of freight traffic that's 20x smaller. David Levinson did a back-of-the-envelope estimate of TC&W's market value, and came up with a cost around $110 million for the entire company. He was suggesting a buyout of the whole railroad, though I don't think that's a very good idea.

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » July 29th, 2013, 9:06 am

mattaudio wrote:Any chance we could get Minneapolis and St. Louis Park to agree upon this?
No.

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » July 29th, 2013, 9:08 am

UptownSport wrote:a bad project that just beached itself
Save the hyperbole. Nothing's beached. This is how things go. There's nothing really unusual here.

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » July 29th, 2013, 9:09 am

min-chi-cbus wrote:whether by changing the alignment that we'd have to re-submit the route for Federal funding, possibly jeapordizing the project altogether?
Yes we would. I have confirmed this with the project leads.

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby FISHMANPET » July 29th, 2013, 9:13 am

mulad wrote:David Levinson did a back-of-the-envelope estimate of TC&W's market value, and came up with a cost around $110 million for the entire company. He was suggesting a buyout of the whole railroad, though I don't think that's a very good idea.
I'd be curious to hear more on this. I thought it was a good idea, but I believe ( ;) ) you know a lot more about railroad operations than I do.

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby mulad » July 29th, 2013, 9:39 am

To clarify that a bit, I really want to keep the freight operation running, since that has a benefit to farmers along the line and reduces the impact of (often overloaded) semi trucks on rural highways. If TC&W got bought out in its entirety, I'd still like to see it stick around as some sort of state-owned company (along the lines of the US Postal Service, but at the state level).

Of course, doing a full buyout would have the potential benefit of allowing the state to dictate that we'll restore passenger service along the line -- commuter rail to Chanhassen or perhaps Norwood-Young America, and maybe 2-4 round-trips per day farther out. It could be a cheaper alternative to trying to run a service between the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls compared to going on a route owned by BNSF or Union Pacific almost the whole way, though it has the disadvantage that it's not a well-populated corridor and it bypasses Willmar (BNSF option) and Mankato (UP option).

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby twincitizen » July 29th, 2013, 9:59 am

It's too late now, with a decision scheduled to be made later this month, but I wish we had started a separate thread to discuss the freight rail issue.

Anyways, I found this Hennepin County report from Fall 2009 that takes a look at a universe of options for handling freight.
http://www.stlouispark.org/pdf/freight_ ... _study.pdf

It estimated just $48 Million for the SLP re-route. Lies, damned lies, and statistics, as they say, has never been more appropriate than here.

I urge everyone to look at that document and review the "Old 169" alignment. It's a former (removed) freight line that is now a pedestrian trail that has some development along it. Houses would need to be removed, but the alignment itself for freight makes a lot more sense than the one that's being considered. They quote $120MM in 2009, so it surely would be more now, but it seems worthy of discussion. I'm surprised the "Safety in the Park" folks from SLP haven't brought it up now that the proposed re-route has gotten so ugly and expensive.

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » July 29th, 2013, 10:05 am

twincitizen wrote: It estimated $48 Million for the SLP re-route. Lies, damned lies, and statistics, as they say, has never been more appropriate than here.
Keep in mind that that was before TC&W demanded a complete redesign and rebuild of the spur line through the area, complete with two new rail bridges of TH 100, a complete regrading and many takings and demolitions.

Yes, it was probably foolish to assume such a low cost for relocation but the county was working with incomplete information.

You go with what you have and adjust as you get new information.

mattaudio
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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby mattaudio » July 29th, 2013, 10:11 am

David Greene wrote:You go with what you have and adjust as you get new information.
Glad to hear you're finally onboard with adjusting to 3C! :ugeek:


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