MSP to Rochester High Speed Rail

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mattaudio
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » June 5th, 2013, 10:06 am

If this pans out as expected and the ridership looks high based on trip time advantages, I really don't see the need for a stop between SPUD and Rochester.

Down the road, I could see two connecting services that could help with some of this... A train from SPUD to Des Moines via the UP Spine Line including stops at Northfield, Faribault, Owatonna, Albert Lea, Mason City, and Ames IA. Then, we could see a connector service on the CP across Southern MN's Hwy 14 corridor which has relatively high population. This could connect New Ulm, Mankato, Waseca, Owatonna, Dodge Center, Rochester, St. Charles, and Winona. This would also have the advantage of connecting other rail services in Owatonna, Rochester and Winona and it could help provide choices for Downtown Rochester commuters.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby David Greene » June 5th, 2013, 10:27 am

^^^ I like this idea.

Unfortunately, it seems a bit far-fetched. As much as I would love to take a train to see my relatives in New Ulm, certainly a car from Minneapolis would be faster than a transfer in Rochester.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby FISHMANPET » June 5th, 2013, 10:48 am

If we're going to start connecting all sorts of Hamlets between this big traffic generators we should do that with separate service.

I've been watching a show from the BBC about a guy taking trips on the rails, and the way a lot of their system is setup is with high speed high capacity trains between big cities and then smaller slower service (usually run with DMUs) to serve the cities in between. So there could be a fast train between Rochester and SPUD, and then a DMU connecting a few stops in Rochester with Oronocco, Pine Island, Zumbrota, etc etc.

But service like this is largely a result of the massive rail network the country was handed by railway mania in the 1800s, I'm not sure how feasible it would be to build such a system from scratch.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby twincitizen » June 5th, 2013, 11:01 am

MNdible wrote:
twincitizen wrote:Just seems cheaper and easier in every way to terminate at SPUD and using existing transit modes to get to MSP and downtown Minneapolis (Green Line, Route 94, 54/Riverview). I don't think the value of having a single seat ride to Minneapolis Interchange outweighs the cost (capital or operating) when you can hop on LRT or Express bus and be there in 25-35 minutes vs. whatever it would take for the train to back out of SPUD and head to the Interchange (and then backtrack to their actual destination in the CBD)
This doesn't make any sense to me. There are already lots of rail lines between the cities -- how hard would it be to continue the train on through to the Interchange? The capital costs should be minimal -- just acquiring some trackage rights.
But haven't we learned from Northstar that trackage rights are pretty expensive? I know that's little different, but still. You do have to figure operating (labor & fuel) costs.

My main line (heh) of reasoning is this: it won't be a significant enough time savings for the passengers to be worthy of spending any money on. How fast can the trains move between SPUD & Interchange anyways? Not that fast I'd imagine. On top of that, as I said before, most people's true destination is the CBD, not Interchange. To get to the CBD from the Interchange you're going to hop on the LRT or walk 10 minutes anyways, so you might as well have just gotten on the Green Line in Saint Paul.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mulad » June 5th, 2013, 11:17 am

I think there would have to be a new track built between the downtowns for this. The Midway Subdivision is currently double-tracked, but it was formerly quadruple-tracked with 2 passenger and 2 freight lines, so it shouldn't be too difficult to fit at least one back in. There would still be some challenges -- Yard layouts have changed along the line over the years. [Edit: deleted a bit about tunnels at Westminster -- those lead to the St. Paul Subdivision farther north.]

prk166
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby prk166 » June 6th, 2013, 7:35 am

Keep in mind that one of the reasons for building Zip Rail that some proponents are touting is using RST as another Twin Cities airport. The Mayo Clinic is also pushing to serve high end patients. Regardless of how much sense that may not make, it means that there are likely some political forces that will be advocating for a route with direct service to MSP.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby MNdible » June 6th, 2013, 9:52 am

mulad wrote:There would still be some challenges -- Yard layouts have changed along the line over the years.


When you say Yard it makes me think of McMansions.

(Sorry, Redisciple).

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby woofner » June 6th, 2013, 10:55 am

I'm a big boy, I can take it. The Ryan renderings show way more grass than I've ever seen at a rail yard, but I've seen far more tenuous articulations from architects, I suppose.

Were there no costing updates at the Zip Rail meeting? I'd agree that it should serve MSP, but I think the price tag will be high enough as is, and I imagine that an MSP alignment that also served Downtown Minneapolis could potentially double it (or else be as politically difficult as the rest of the line put together).

Also, all discussion of a Rosemount stop is being driven by the U of M's speculative real estate project there.
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby UptownSport » June 6th, 2013, 10:58 am

prk166 wrote:Keep in mind that one of the reasons for building Zip Rail that some proponents are touting is using RST as another Twin Cities airport. The Mayo Clinic is also pushing to serve high end patients. Regardless of how much sense that may not make, it means that there are likely some political forces that will be advocating for a route with direct service to MSP.
I'm sure there's lots of $ going into people's pockets so Mayo can get you and me to pay for red carpet transit for their customers.
Other cities have airports, and are closer- No to mention we already have a train that goes (partially) to St. Cloud- Why not these as an overflow or for smaller aircraft?

mattaudio
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » June 6th, 2013, 1:00 pm

redisciple wrote:Were there no costing updates at the Zip Rail meeting?
No such discussion at the Tuesday meeting.

One of the points made at the Tuesday meeting is that ZipRail would effectively be a substitute good for air travel between Rochester and MSP. With Rochester being 90 minutes driving from MSP, there's very little demand for the Rochester airport. I've flown American to O'Hare from there, and Delta also flies to MSP and Detroit.

If Rochester was connected by HSR to MSP (and onward to Chicago down the line) it would likely reduce demand for RST. Air traffic is not growing much, and it won't grow as oil continues to become more expensive. Instead, it would make sense for Rochester's proposed Broadway BRT to extend to Rochester International Airport.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby fehler » June 6th, 2013, 1:02 pm

I like the idea of a suburban/exurban station, to serve dual-commute households in the southern suburbs. Farmington would be a good spot for this.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby MNdible » June 7th, 2013, 12:31 pm

Assuming that this doesn't become part of Minneapolis to Chicago high speed service, would there be any advantage (or disadvantage?) to having it run continuously with the NLX Duluth service? Assuming that Zip would go Rochester to SPUD to the interchange, that should dovetail seamlessly with NLX, right? Except maybe the train is facing the wrong direction at the Interchange.

mattaudio
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » June 7th, 2013, 12:50 pm

It could make sense, although I bet Zip Rail will a) have more frequencies and b) have higher speed trainsets (including potential electrification). Backing maneuvers wouldn't be as big of a deal as these would likely have cab controls on both ends.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mulad » June 7th, 2013, 3:06 pm

Yeah, pretty much any new intercity train is expected to run double-ended like this:



...though ideally the FRA will approve some type of diesel and/or electric multiple-unit train for this type of service, in which case the cabs would be integrated into the leading and trailing passenger cars much like they are on our LRVs.

As mattaudio alluded to, if it's determined that electrification is worthwhile on the Rochester route, it'd probably become more challenging to have a through train to Duluth since there hasn't been any talk of electrifying NLX as far as I'm aware. I'm not sure if stack trains run on that line today, but they certainly do between Minneapolis and Coon Rapids, and that probably causes clearance issues. Dual-mode trains might be possible, which could run on diesel power from Duluth to Minneapolis and electrically down to Rochester, or you can just tack a diesel locomotive on the front of an electric trainset.

But rather than fussing with all of that, it might all be possible with good scheduling -- it shouldn't be too hard to set up a cross-platform transfer in Minneapolis, at least for most trips.

mattaudio
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » June 7th, 2013, 3:12 pm

This is an old map of mine:
http://goo.gl/maps/Mrf4k

I'd rather see the NLX line extended to Des Moines or even Kansas City down the road as some sort of interstate service using 110+ MPH DMUs. Likely this would have to go to SPUD and south on the UP rather than using Dan Patch as shown. Not sure the U.P. would like this on the Spine Line, but they've actually invested heavily in maintenance of way in the past decade.

Hopefully by the time ZipRail is coming online, there will be more discussion about creating true high speed electrified service between Minneapolis and Chicago.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby mulad » October 16th, 2013, 9:02 pm

The second presentation at the Intercity Passenger Rail Forum today was about the Zip Rail service. I didn't notice a whole lot of specific information -- they're about 1 year into the service-level NEPA process. Probably the biggest thing they noted was that they've been approached by private-sector organizations which would be willing to fund upwards of 20% of the construction cost. My vague memory makes me think the presenter was referring to railroad operators, but I'm not sure it precludes organizations like the Mayo Clinic.

A lot of the interest has been driven by the positive operating ratios found in many past studies involving the corridor (of which I have a list), though I'll throw in a personal caveat that those studies have almost exclusively looked at costs/revenues for the entire Twin Cites to Chicago corridor. But I think that if the Northern Lights Express continues to look good, then Rochester must look almost equally as good, since you can run almost twice as many trips per day with basically the same amount of staff and equipment because of the shorter distance. They're supposed to be examining operational cost estimates specifically for this corridor soon, so we'll see how that pans out.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby holmstar » April 14th, 2014, 2:03 pm

A note on http://goziprail.org/stay_informed/ from 1/29/2014 states: "A second round of public meetings are planned for Spring 2014."

Has anyone heard anything on this?

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby Tcmetro » May 13th, 2014, 10:04 pm

A recent presentation to the HCRRA seems to show that the options have been reduced to two options south of Coates (one following 52, another through Kenyon and Dodge Center that seems to be an abandoned rail corridor. What's really interesting are the options north of Coates. One follows the rail corridor parallel to 52/55 to a new bridge over the Minnesota River with a terminal at MSP Airport. Another follows the rail corridor on the west bank of the river (i.e. through Lilydale) up to Union Depot. The other option follows the rail corridor through Inver Grove Heights to the Wakota Bridge, then up the other side of the river to Union Depot.

Personally, I like the MSP or the Lilydale options, as those will connect to the Airport, or feed into Union Depot in a manner that doesn't preclude through-running to Minneapolis or Duluth or Fargo.

EDIT: Proper link:
http://board.co.hennepin.mn.us/sirepub/ ... eid=273966
Last edited by Tcmetro on May 14th, 2014, 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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FISHMANPET
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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby FISHMANPET » May 13th, 2014, 10:10 pm

This region doesn't need a third regional rail hub, so think the airport could be out, but I understand why an airport connection would be valuable.

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Re: Zip Rail to Rochester

Postby stp1980 » May 14th, 2014, 12:16 pm

If track rights are expensive, as shown by the Northstar line, couldn't we have a non-profit corporation formed to have bonds issued to build the line here (since much of it would have to be constructed), have the primary user be the passenger line, but have other railroads use it for freight some of the time and charge them for the rights to move their trains down this section of line while using that money to pay back the bonds? The downside is there might not be much freight traffic for this corridor. Just a thought on creative infrastructure financing. Since we don't seem to want to finance anything other than stadiums and stadium renovations creatively.


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