Northern Lights Express

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
mulad
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mulad » January 17th, 2019, 8:29 pm

Since I bumped the Rochester HSR thread, I should touch this one too. I believe NLX is very close to being "shovel-ready" and could use support this year from people who are contacting their legislators. It would be nice to get the project moving since it's been examined for so long.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » January 18th, 2019, 1:07 am

It is shovel ready. The only obstacle keeping it from starting construction is funding, 80% of which is assumed to be coming from the federal government. Might be worthwhile to see if we can get most or all of the funding from a different source.

Korh
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Korh » January 18th, 2019, 8:42 am

I wonder, we all are aware of the link between economic development and rail, but how strong is the connection between population growth and rail. Assuming the NLX doesn't get hit with reduced speeds and number of round trips again, does anyone think the project will reverse Duluth's currently decreasing population which depending on who you ask has been trending that way for the last 60 years.

mulad
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mulad » February 11th, 2019, 10:10 am

Not much detail, but a government affairs representative from Amtrak visited Duluth over the weekend talking about NLX. https://www.fox21online.com/2019/02/10/ ... rail-line/

I guess we typically don't hear much from Amtrak about this line, though I'd heard many years ago through a coworker that they'd wanted to operate it. There probably needs to be some sort of bidding process to pick the operator, though whoever is actually running the trains would really also need to have them available through the Amtrak website.

Actually, with 4-6 round-trips daily, and light rail between Target Field and the airport, it would make sense for there to be an air-rail codesharing agreement allowing ticketing through airline booking sites as well. Amtrak probably suffers a lot from the fact that their routes just aren't visible to most travelers unless you go through somewhat specialized websites like Hipmunk that specifically interface with Amtrak's system.

karlshea
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby karlshea » March 12th, 2019, 1:41 pm

http://www.startribune.com/amtrak-annou ... 507036432/
Amtrak has expressed interest in building an up to $600 million passenger rail line between Minneapolis and the twin port cities of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin.
...
The rail service would run four round trips per day at up to 90 mph on an existing BNSF Railway corridor. The project would be about 80 percent funded through federal grants and a minimum 20 percent through local matching funds.

Korh
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Korh » March 13th, 2019, 9:38 am

So assuming amtrak takes it, where gonna (technically) have two amtrak stations less than 15 miles apart with no direct way to travel between the two besides having to take a transfer on the green line.

I'm trying to think of another pair of stations with a similar situation but I don't know amtraks system very well.

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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Silophant » March 13th, 2019, 9:48 am

Looks like Boston's North Station doesn't connect to the other two Boston stations, requiring riders to find their own way between them. Though, they're also all within two miles of each other, not ten miles apart like SPUD and TFS.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » March 13th, 2019, 10:16 am

Before the Oslo Tunnel opened in 1980 Oslo had two stations; Oslo West and Oslo East. Their regional and intercity rail network was split between east and west with a tiny gap in central Oslo. However I don't know how easy or difficult it was to connect between the two.

To have Target Field Station and SPUD have a direct rail connection without turning the train around or requiring the engineer to move to the other end of the train we would need a tunnel, likely under Downtown Minneapolis, and at that point you might as well build an underground station.

This is what happens when you develop all of the abandoned railroad right-of-ways and don't think 50 years in advance.

MNdible
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby MNdible » March 13th, 2019, 10:35 am

Meh. It's not ideal, but it wouldn't be the end of the world to have the train do a three point turn at the wye before continuing on to SPUD. There are lots of terminal stations that require such a movement.

mattaudio
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » March 13th, 2019, 10:47 am

Also despite being two miles apart, Boston requires a local transit transfer to get between South Station and North Station by rail (Red-Orange or Red-Green). At least we have a one-seat rail connection between our two stations.

Related: Anyone ever read about the building of the Philadelphia Center City Commuter Connection? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_Ci ... Connection This was a tunnel that connected the previous terminal commuter rail stations for the Penn RR and the Reading RR. This allowed the regional commuter operator to through-route commuter trains in more of a S-Bahn or RER fashion, which is AWESOME. I think there are also people who have proposed tunneling between Chicago stations (such as Ogilvie to Millenium or similar) allowing Metra trains to through-route. It's kind of funny that the only trains that through-route a Chicago station are Amtrak trains on the Union Station platforms closest to the river, and that's only so they can continue onto the Amtrak servicing yards.

Anyways, we have SOME opportunities for through-routing between Minneapolis TFS and St. Paul Union Depot... Think a second train from Chicago entering St. Paul via Canadian Pacific/BNSF and continuing to Minneapolis via CP Merriam Park Sub. Or think a train from Rochester or Owatonna approaching via the Robert Street lift bridge then departing over the BNSF Midway Subdivision to Minneapolis. This could also work for trains approaching Minneapolis from the west (TCW, BNSF Wayzata Sub, or CP/BNSF Bassett Creek lines) and continuing on via BNSF to Union Depot.

The problem becomes lines like NLX, Northstar, and Empire Builder where trains approach from the north on the BNSF Staples or Hinckley subdivisions. Trains would have to back out to continue onto St. Paul, which could work for commuter or regional trains with controls at both ends but would be a problem for long-distance trains such as today's Empire Builder. Though even that is *possible* if it's worthwhile enough - Amtrak's Silver Star from New York to Miami backs up into Tampa by way of a conductor standing at the back door and radioing things in.

Better yet, if we somehow end up with a robust network of commuter rail lines, we should consider new trackage allowing trains to through-route Minneapolis on their way to/from St. Paul. I mapped out a concept 7 or 8 years ago but cannot find the link right now. One of the concepts was a dual-level tunnel under a downtown street similar to Market Street in SF hosting BART and Muni... Grade separation of the METRO Blue/Green lines on level one, and regional/commuter rail on level two. If we would have planned this two decades ago, then the earthwork associated with Target Field and US Bank Stadium would have been a great way to handle the approaches and curves. This, along with use of the 394 viaduct corridor through the North Loop, the existing rail line that ends at Plymouth Ave, and the old NP #9 railroad bridge to the Dinkytown trench would make an ideal downtown connection for through-routing rail. But I digress.

Finally, I very much like mulad's suggestion for ticket interlining with airlines serving MSP. I wonder if that could happen to St. Cloud or other cities served via commuter rail, too.

gopherfan
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby gopherfan » March 13th, 2019, 11:43 am

Coon Rapids - Foley Station should be designed to accommodate waiting/transferring from NLX to Northstar to Empire Builder. It would be on-line for all of these. This could really be a useful hub to start a state-wide rail network!

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Anondson
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Anondson » March 13th, 2019, 11:50 am

That’s a great idea.

xandrex
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby xandrex » March 13th, 2019, 1:22 pm

Nothing wrong with that idea, but do the lines not meet anywhere in Minneapolis that might make a good hub with better transit access?

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » March 13th, 2019, 1:43 pm

xandrex wrote:
March 13th, 2019, 1:22 pm
Nothing wrong with that idea, but do the lines not meet anywhere in Minneapolis that might make a good hub with better transit access?
Northeast Minneapolis at Broadway & Central would be your best bet. The only issue is land constraints, likely needing to rebuild the intersection, and optimally having enough right-of-way for dedicated passenger tracks through there.

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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Mikey » March 13th, 2019, 7:41 pm

Or perhaps we could (as part of a future phase) rebuild the "Skally Line" tracks from North Branch to Hugo / White Bear, re-routing the line south of Hinckley to WBL, where it could then jump over to the existing CP tracks south into the east side of SPUD, then continue via the CP Merriam Park tracks to Target Field. And THEN it could continue south and west to Mankato
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MSPtoMKE
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby MSPtoMKE » March 13th, 2019, 10:05 pm

mattaudio wrote:
March 13th, 2019, 10:47 am
Also despite being two miles apart, Boston requires a local transit transfer to get between South Station and North Station by rail (Red-Orange or Red-Green). At least we have a one-seat rail connection between our two stations.
A nit pick, but you can have a one-seat ride if you use Back Bay Station instead of South Station, the Orange Line serves North Station from there. It is slightly farther, though.
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