Northern Lights Express

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

Postby Multimodal » December 9th, 2017, 2:34 pm

It seems the reason rail lines to small cities work in Europe & Asia is because of density. Not population; density.

Rail works to small cities because you don’t need a car to get around, and thus car ownership is much lower.

If you have cars, highways, & suburbs, then trains make less sense.

Someday, as the US weans itself off of cars, and continues to build denser areas, and people stop driving cars everywhere, then trains to small cities make sense.

tmart
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby tmart » February 28th, 2018, 3:38 pm

Just curious as someone who wasn't following this project back during the planning and environmental phases: Why was Target Field chosen as the terminus instead of SPUD? Did they ever consider offering St. Paul service to tie into the upgrades being made on the northern half of the route? Did the decision to make Rush Line a fancy bus to WBL instead of a train to Hinckley have anything to do with it?

The answer might be as simple as "more people go to Minneapolis", and that's fine; I'm just curious if St. Paul service was ever evaluated.

Korh
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Korh » February 28th, 2018, 4:17 pm

I think it was something along the lines of "the old line from Duluth to St. Paul was abandoned and some parts got torn up or made into a bike trail and it was easier to upgrade the track going to Minneapolis". Could be wrong by that was my basic understanding which I'm a bit disappointed since if SPUD would have the chance to see more trains, it could be a much better station than target field (unless there is some plan to upgrade Target field station I'm forgetting)

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » February 28th, 2018, 4:25 pm

Korh wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 4:17 pm
I think it was something along the lines of "the old line from Duluth to St. Paul was abandoned and some parts got torn up or made into a bike trail and it was easier to upgrade the track going to Minneapolis". Could be wrong by that was my basic understanding which I'm a bit disappointed since if SPUD would have the chance to see more trains, it could be a much better station than target field (unless there is some plan to upgrade Target field station I'm forgetting)
The plan at Target Firld is for an additional platform track and extending the existing platform east.

Korh
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Korh » February 28th, 2018, 5:00 pm

just curious is there a rendering of what it will look like? although I was wondering more along the lines of improving it beyond having a single island platform and a small shelter. I mean they did overhaul the LRT part of the station, why not the commuter half

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kellonathan
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby kellonathan » February 28th, 2018, 7:15 pm

IIRC, the original plan for "the Interchange" Phase II used to include a plan for constructing a whole new glass train hall for commuter/regional rail passengers, above the current platform and connect it to 5th St.
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Korh
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Korh » February 28th, 2018, 7:57 pm

This is the first I've heard about the Interchange getting a phase II, got anymore detail

talindsay
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby talindsay » February 28th, 2018, 10:51 pm

Yeah, they were going to put a beautiful glass hall over the tracks on the North side of fifth. I think "phase two" legitimizes it too much; it was in the renderings for the original Interchange proposal, but not funded, and frankly we'd need to see much higher ridership on the lower tracks to justify it. It would be cool, though.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » February 28th, 2018, 10:53 pm

Here is the proposed layout of Target Field Station with NLX-https://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/documen ... tation.pdf

I haven't heard about a Phase II either. On the MnDOT 2015 Rail Plan they even state that due to the constraints at Target Field Station a new rail hub may be needed if we're going beyond a couple commuter rail and intercity rail lines.

mattaudio
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » March 1st, 2018, 8:24 am

Of course it doesn't help that we botched a one-time opportunity to preserve space for future tracks and platforms, even if developing the air rights above (*cough* Dock Street Flats and Offices *cough*)

talindsay
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby talindsay » March 1st, 2018, 9:34 am

It also struck me as surprising that they didn't preserve that space for a larger terminal station, but in their defense, the chance that a huge renaissance of trains travel to the north and west of Minneapolis at a scale that needs more than the remaining space is pretty low. Most potential future growth (if at all) is to the south and east, and those lines are better suited to terminate at SPUD.

Additionally, it's possible that operating around Target Field is so constrained with safety rules that they wouldn't be able to make use of a terminal track squeezed between the track bend just before Washington to the north, and the stadium's northern wall to the south. It looks like there's only a total of about 1000' between the two, and it's entirely likely that there isn't space to physically locate a turnout *under* the bridge itself, in which case any turnout would have to be from the existing east track. Since those tracks would terminate right at the stadium wall, I'm sure there would be heavy stoppage requirements, probably eating up 100' on the south end, and the turnouts would eat up 200' on the north end, leaving optimistically 600-700 feet of usable platform space, which of course isn't enough for an intercity train. While I doubt demand at this location for train travel would exceed the capacity of a single two-sided platform anyway, I'd be really surprised if demand for northbound commuter-only rail - the only thing that can make use of that potential other space - ever reached a level to justify it. And operationally, it would be quite difficult even for those commuter services, given how tight everything around those turnouts would be.

So while it was a bit surprising and disappointing when they took that option away with those developments, I don't think realistically that it was ever really an option.

mattaudio
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » March 1st, 2018, 10:00 am

talindsay wrote:
March 1st, 2018, 9:34 am
Most potential future growth (if at all) is to the south and east, and those lines are better suited to terminate at SPUD.
As much as RCRRA thinks St. Paul is equal to Minneapolis, those services would do far better by stopping at SPUD, but through-routing to Minneapolis and terminating at Target Field would be best.

talindsay
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby talindsay » March 1st, 2018, 10:27 am

mattaudio wrote:
March 1st, 2018, 10:00 am
As much as RCRRA thinks St. Paul is equal to Minneapolis, those services would do far better by stopping at SPUD, but through-routing to Minneapolis and terminating at Target Field would be best.
You know I agree. But I doubt that will happen.

mattaudio
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » March 1st, 2018, 10:53 am

But it seems like it would also harm ridership and connectivity to split trains between multiple terminii. Want to take Northstar or NLX but connect to Chicago, or Rochester or Eau Claire eventually? Get on the Green Line.

tmart
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby tmart » March 1st, 2018, 11:11 am

I think a rail corridor between Minneapolis (Target Field Intermodal) and St. Paul Union that could serve through-routing commuter trains as well as provide express service between the two (instead of the 40+ minute Green Line) would be a super-forward thinking investment. If we're going to build out NLX, maybe build out Rochester service someday, add a TCMC train and someday make speed improvements, and continue making investments in METRO routes terminating in these areas, we'll slowly build up a real need that won't be solved by "just take the 94 bus."

This is, of course, super hard to design at all, and a non-starter in today's political climate. We don't have an obvious way to expand Target Field station. There's no obvious ROW connecting them in any reasonably direct way at any reasonable speed, and building a new one would be about as costly a land-acquisition and legal challenge as you could imagine in the state. But it strikes me that it will only be even harder 20 years from now.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby DanPatchToget » March 1st, 2018, 11:46 am

If this was the 70s that would be no problem. Route through NE Minneapolis on the Northern Pacific, through North Minneapolis and into the Great Northern Depot. To St. Paul either the Stone Arch Bridge or Northern Pacific Bridge. Of course this is 2018, and thanks to planners in that era saying "screw these right-of-ways, lets put in parking lots!", we only have one rail corridor through Downtown Minneapolis.

I think its best that someday we have a second corridor between St. Paul and Duluth using the Skally Line. While its severed, the right-of-way is still there.

mattaudio
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » March 1st, 2018, 12:07 pm

We already have that corridor, the BNSF Wayzata Sub then east on the BNSF Midway Sub to St. Paul Union Depot. The Midway Sub had four mainline tracks back in the Great Northern days. The BNSF Mississippi River bridge (just upstream from Hennepin) is dual tracked but with only one and could be reconfigured so the northern track is the primary freight track, then the southern track is a primarily passenger track around the southern leg of the Mpls Junction wye towards St. Paul.

Through routing SPUD would be a challenge when both Mpls and South/East trains approach from the Westminster side. But this could be solved by through-routing SPUD via the CP Merriam Park trackage with the short MN Commercial connection (the route the Empire Builder takes past the old Midway station). This could also serve as a local transit connection with stops at Northeast, UMN, Snelling, etc.

The ultimate build scenario would be a new alignment through Downtown Minneapolis that allows more trains including the current Empire Builder to through-route via Downtown.
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHFzz ... sp=sharing

This would take the old NP double track bridge north of Broadway and south on existing railroad ROW to Plymouth Ave before hopping underground towards Target Field. From Target Field to US Bank Stadium, this could be a double-level tunnel (with local Blue and Green line LRT above like SF Market Street). At the east end of downtown, this could connect up with the old NP #9 bridge back across the river, through the Dinkytown trench, and back onto the Midway Sub to St. Paul.

grant1simons2
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby grant1simons2 » March 2nd, 2018, 5:26 pm

Real NLX news

The team is in D.C. this week and said some more positive news will be coming this week.

grant1simons2
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby grant1simons2 » March 6th, 2018, 2:59 pm

On February 20, 2018, FRA signed the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Tier 2 Project Level Environmental Assessment. This allows the NLX project to proceed to final design, construction and operation when funding becomes available.
https://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/updates.html

Findings of fact and conclusions

https://www.dot.state.mn.us/nlx/documen ... 180224.pdf

SurlyLHT
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby SurlyLHT » March 6th, 2018, 3:15 pm

This is exciting. Will the Northstar use the Foley Station?


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