Northern Lights Express

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

Postby DanPatchToget » March 13th, 2017, 8:47 pm

Well the tracks between Duluth and Two Harbors are owned by the St. Louis County Rail Authority and are lightly used (not sure how many freight trains go through there, but other than that its just the North Shore Scenic Railroad). I noticed from Google Maps there is railcar storage during the off-season.

The tracks between Big Lake and St. Cloud are owned by BNSF and are used heavily, so extra track is needed if we are ever going to extend Northstar to St. Cloud, but that requires funding, which requires a certain daily ridership level set by the federal government in order to receive funding, but that ridership level can't be reached with the current schedule.

mattaudio
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » March 14th, 2017, 9:15 am

DanPatchToget wrote:
March 13th, 2017, 8:47 pm
extra track is needed if we are ever going to extend Northstar to St. Cloud, but that requires funding
BNSF recently rebuilt double-tracking from Big Lake to Becker, so trackage shouldn't be an issue for Northstar. I do know there's probably a need for triple tracking the main from Minneapolis Junction or Northtown to Coon Creek Junction (the Duluth split) before any additional trains would happen via Northtown.

Regarding NLE to Two Harbors... not going to happen. But I do wonder if North Shore Scenic Railroad could adjust their services to allow for scheduled seasonal weekend service for people staying in Two Harbors. You could do turns on Thursday PM, Friday PM, two or three on Saturday and Sunday, and a Monday AM service.

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MNdible
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby MNdible » March 14th, 2017, 9:23 am

I don't think there are enough hotel rooms in Two Harbors (let alone in walking distance from the depot) to ever justify a service like this. Two Harbors is a nice little train day trip from Duluth, especially now that Castle Danger is there, but that doesn't require synchronized transfers.

grant1simons2
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby grant1simons2 » March 14th, 2017, 10:48 am

It would be nice to have cheaper transit up to the Superior Hiking Trail. The shuttle that they have is pricey for someone who's just doing a few days up there. It costs $35 to go as far as 9 miles back to your starting point. And that's for 1 person. I think there will be a good amount of people who would ride the train to the trail. Especially if they somehow have shuttle from the station to the trail.

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Didier
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Didier » March 14th, 2017, 11:25 am

mattaudio wrote:
March 14th, 2017, 9:15 am
But I do wonder if North Shore Scenic Railroad could adjust their services to allow for scheduled seasonal weekend service for people staying in Two Harbors. You could do turns on Thursday PM, Friday PM, two or three on Saturday and Sunday, and a Monday AM service.
Something like this doesn't seem unreasonable, given the circumstances. The X factor, though, would be whether North Shore resorts would be willing to add shuttle service to and from Two Harbors. As Grant mentioned, I don't think Two Harbors the city (or the two harbors) is the appeal, per se.

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MNdible
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby MNdible » March 14th, 2017, 11:33 am

It's only a half hour from the Duluth Depot to Two Harbors by auto, so if your final destination is somewhere further up the North Shore and not Two Harbors itself, it almost certainly makes more sense to take the shuttle direct from Duluth rather than adding in another transfer.

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Tiller
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby Tiller » March 14th, 2017, 11:53 am

How technically feasible would it be for the St Louis County RRA (along with Cook and Lake Counties' if it got far enough) to lay some track further north along the shore of Lake superior in conjunction with MNDOT rebuilding highway 61?

xandrex
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby xandrex » March 14th, 2017, 12:11 pm

grant1simons2 wrote:
March 14th, 2017, 10:48 am
It would be nice to have cheaper transit up to the Superior Hiking Trail. The shuttle that they have is pricey for someone who's just doing a few days up there. It costs $35 to go as far as 9 miles back to your starting point. And that's for 1 person. I think there will be a good amount of people who would ride the train to the trail. Especially if they somehow have shuttle from the station to the trail.
Given that the shuttle appears to be privately owned, it would appear that it’s priced to cover costs. They very well might be charging an exorbitant amount, but is extending a train line so day hikers from the Twin Cities don’t have to pay the shuttle fee really a good investment of our scarce transit dollars? At least in my mind, the answer is…probably not.

mattaudio
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby mattaudio » March 14th, 2017, 12:18 pm

Not really feasible at all, given the topography between the hills / Sawtooth Mountains and the lakeshore. Remember, there are two massive tunnels on Hwy 61 north of Two Harbors for the two lane highway. And it's been a long and slow road to get a paved multi-use path along that length of road, something which will likely take another few decades.

If money were no expense and rail buffs were ruling over common sense, it would be cool to see the old LTV railway extended from Taconite Harbor about 10 miles north to Lutsen... but that would be more of a tourist train to nowhere, than anything useful.

grant1simons2
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Re: Northern Lights Express

Postby grant1simons2 » March 14th, 2017, 2:40 pm

xandrex wrote:
March 14th, 2017, 12:11 pm
grant1simons2 wrote:
March 14th, 2017, 10:48 am
It would be nice to have cheaper transit up to the Superior Hiking Trail. The shuttle that they have is pricey for someone who's just doing a few days up there. It costs $35 to go as far as 9 miles back to your starting point. And that's for 1 person. I think there will be a good amount of people who would ride the train to the trail. Especially if they somehow have shuttle from the station to the trail.
Given that the shuttle appears to be privately owned, it would appear that it’s priced to cover costs. They very well might be charging an exorbitant amount, but is extending a train line so day hikers from the Twin Cities don’t have to pay the shuttle fee really a good investment of our scarce transit dollars? At least in my mind, the answer is…probably not.
If I implied trains, I didn't meant to. Just a twice a day shuttle maybe? 4 times a day? Getting people up the shore


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