MSP to Rochester High Speed Rail

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
Oreos&Milk
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby Oreos&Milk » February 23rd, 2018, 1:01 pm

Tiller wrote:
February 21st, 2018, 2:45 am
High speed bus service has been a topic of conversation before...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNixDlRoMvA
FAKE NEWS! Sad!

tmart
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby tmart » April 30th, 2018, 1:50 pm

HF 4385 (GOP omnibus tax bill) would ban study of rail to Rochester:
Sec. 20. [459.36] NO SPENDING OF PUBLIC MONEY FOR CERTAIN RAIL
PROJECTS.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), a governmental unit must not spend or use any
money for any costs related to studying the feasibility of, planning for, designing,
engineering, acquiring property or constructing facilities for or related to, or development
or operation of intercity or interregional passenger rail facilities or operations between the
city of Rochester, or locations in its metropolitan area, and any location in the metropolitan
area, as defined in section 473.121, subdivision 2.

(b) The restrictions under this section do not apply to:

(1) funds the governmental unit obtains from contributions, grants, or other voluntary
payments made by nongovernmental entities from private sources;

(2) expenditures for costs of public infrastructure, including public utilities, parking
facilities, a multimode transit hub, or similar projects located within the area of the
development district, as defined under section 469.40, and reflected in the development
plan adopted before the enactment of this section, that are intended to serve, and that are
made following the completed construction and commencement of operation of privately
financed and operated intercity or interregional passenger rail facilities; or

(3) expenditures made after enactment of a law that explicitly adds the intercity or
interregional passenger rail project for which the expenditures are made to the statewide
freight and passenger rail plan under section 174.03, subdivision 1b.

(c) For purposes of this section, "governmental unit" means any of the following, located
in development regions 10 and 11, as designated under section 462.385, subdivision 1:

(1) statutory or home rule charter city;

(2) county;

(3) special taxing district, as defined in section 275.066;

(4) metropolitan planning organization; or

(5) destination medical center entity, which includes the Destination Medical Center
Corporation and agency, as those terms are defined in section 469.40, and any successor or
related entity.

EFFECTIVE DATE. This section is effective the day following final enactment without
local approval under Minnesota Statutes, section 645.023, subdivision 1, clause (c).
It's been awhile since we had a good gag bill. We've sure got some experts in the field of making sure nothing ever gets done.

grant1simons2
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby grant1simons2 » April 30th, 2018, 2:33 pm

Ah so will most definitely result in the actual train being built to spite whoever is authoring this, right? Please?

Also without even checking, is this Duane Quam?

tmart
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby tmart » April 30th, 2018, 6:29 pm

I'm sure they'll get on this right after they finish the Dan Patch line.

I'm not sure how to tell from the House website who introduced an amendment, but it looks like it was in the final version that passed.

Multimodal
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby Multimodal » May 1st, 2018, 6:29 am

State legislature has become the Government Of No.

Banning anything interesting.

tmart
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby tmart » May 1st, 2018, 7:52 am

I don't even understand the arguments for banning study. Like, in the end, the legislature would still have to vote to fund whatever project anyway! It's purely a spite move that makes it strictly harder to be sure we're making the right choices.

We need a blanket lifting of study bans. Or better still, if we ever get a transit amendment, we should sneak in that the legislature can't ban the study of certain transit corridors.

Bakken2016
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby Bakken2016 » May 1st, 2018, 8:09 am

I'm assuming Gov Dayton can line veto that?

DanPatchToget
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby DanPatchToget » May 1st, 2018, 8:15 am

If I was ever a state legislator I would propose a ban on widening Highway 52. I know it would never pass, but just to give the legislators who are trying to ban rail something to think about. This is a slippery slope, first Dan Patch, now Zip Rail, and then what? Every light rail project? Oh yeah, that's what Jeff Johnson wants.

tmart
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby tmart » May 1st, 2018, 8:23 am

Bakken2016 wrote:
May 1st, 2018, 8:09 am
I'm assuming Gov Dayton can line veto that?
Line-item vetos are only for appropriations bills, which I don't think this qualifies as.

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Nick
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby Nick » May 2nd, 2018, 6:52 am

Throwback to the last “proposal” for rail to Rochester being very clearly a scam for Rotary Club types:

http://www.bluestemprairie.com/bluestem ... peace.html

DanPatchToget
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby DanPatchToget » May 2nd, 2018, 8:42 am

Can't believe MnDOT canned their study because some random guy thought he could privately finance it. Their "headquarters" near the MOA still has the NAHSR sign on top of the building.

phop
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby phop » May 2nd, 2018, 8:57 am

This would all be less soul-sucking if it hadn't been so obvious from the start.

tmart
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby tmart » May 8th, 2018, 2:15 pm

The anti-rail provision does not appear in the Senate version of the bill. We'll see which version comes out in the end--and whether Dayton ends up signing the bill, which will be controversial for reasons much bigger than a rail gag order.

http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/bs/90/HF4385.pdf

mulad
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby mulad » January 17th, 2019, 3:03 pm

With the shift to a DFL majority in the state house and Walz in office as governor, I'm hoping something can be restarted for service to Rochester. I included it in a laundry list of projects and funding priorities in a couple emails to my state rep and senator, though I still need to write something to the governor and probably the new MnDOT commissioner.

I was on the shortlived Zip Rail community advisory council, which unfortunately became about half-occupied by opposition people in the Cannon Falls area rather than folks representing the more populated ends in the Twin Cities and Rochester.

One of the things I learned there was that part of US 52 is actually built on a private property easement, though I'm not sure where that is. Unfortunately that would have impacts on the idea of running HSR down down the middle of 52 or immediately adjacent to it. Of course, dealing with that would still probably be easier than running in a pure greenfield alignment.

I tend to feel we should take a dual-pronged approach these days, in the short term looking at running conventional trains between the Twin Cities and Des Moines along existing tracks, with a branch off to Rochester from Owatonna, then adding HSR at a later date, though both should projects should start immediately. In theory, a MSP – Owatonna – Rochester line could be done in 3-5 years by only negotiating with a few property owners (primarily the railroads), vs. 10+ for the new construction a more direct alignment would need and the dozens if not hundreds of property purchases that would be required.

Minnesota doesn't have many cities bigger than 15,000 people outside of the Twin Cities, but going straight(-ish) south, we have the string of Northfield (20k), Faribault (24k), Owatonna (26k), and Albert Lea (18k). Since I grew up in Byron, I've also often felt that it would be good to have an east-west rail service from at least Mankato (42k) in the west to Winona (27k) or La Crosse (52k) in the east.

The biggest towns between Inver Grove Heights and Rochester are Cannon Falls, Zumbrota, and Pine Island, which unfortunately only land in the 3-4k range. Cannon Falls already has tracks running west to Northfield, so they could be connected with a little shuttle service without needing to build anything brand-new, even if it causes some back-tracking for anyone who'd want to go to the Twin Cities.

I'm not sure what the best way would be to get down to Northfield, though -- I'm not a huge fan of doing a circuitous route like Minneapolis – St. Paul – Northfield – Owatonna – Rochester, but that would probably be the easiest given current track geometries (I think a new junction might need to be built in Owatonna, but that'd probably be it). I think a "Dan Patch" alignment from Northfield up to Minneapolis would be better, but that still might require removing the ban on studying that route.

For HSR, I got pretty uneasy with some of the ideas that were floating around for how it would be constructed. They wanted it to be dual-track, but I felt that would be overkill for the frequency of service they were talking about. Of course, it would make sense if we were ultimately going to extend it to Milwaukee/Chicago/wherever (Quad Cities, maybe?) and have trains peaking at every 15 minutes or better. However, if there are going to be less than 20 or so round-trips per day, it's probably better to single-track most of the route and just have a few passing sidings.

Also, there was a big aversion to adding any intermediate stops at all between the endpoints, which drove me pretty batty. It seemed like the planners only wanted to have one type of service on the line, while I looked at it more as a piece of infrastructure like a highway that could have multiple service patterns running over it.

I felt that we should at least be trying one or two closer Twin Cities suburbs plus Cannon Falls, and there's probably a good amount of commuter traffic from the Zumbrota and Pine Island areas to Rochester that could get sopped up, even if they're pretty small towns.

Anyway, I just figured I'd give a little brain dump in case anyone else has been thinking about this with the startup of the new legislative session.

Korh
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby Korh » January 17th, 2019, 11:39 pm

I might be alone in this but without a connection to Chicago is there any other reason to push for 150+ mph for a train to Rochester. Considering the distance its kinda like arguing to upgrading the northstar to a high speed train to get to St. Cloud.

I've always been a little pessimistic whit regards to a MSP to Chicago high speed rail link via Rochester mainly because it involves three states having to work together in coordination which if can result in things taking quite a while to get done (see 2nd empire builder train), and that's assuming no one gets any funny ideas somewhere along the line.

I'm not arguing that there should be no Twin Cities to Rochester train, just that they should of revived a conventional inter city one first before they even considered high speed.

DanPatchToget
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby DanPatchToget » January 18th, 2019, 1:03 am

I'm in favor of conventional rail along 52 and Union Pacific's route to SPUD from Rochester. Offer express service skipping the small towns, and regular service serving those towns so everyone's happy. It also makes intercity rail to Chicago via Rochester more likely.

Some have suggested using the old CGW route to Rochester, but if you look on Google Earth you'll see that a long segment of the route has been plowed for farming. There are decent segments where it's clearly visible, but you would have to cut through a lot of farm fields to reuse that route. If only the rail-to-trails program had started when that route was abandoned.

mattaudio
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » January 18th, 2019, 9:54 pm

Another option could have been the Milwaukee Road-Canadian Pacific line to Red Wing, then the old CGW grade up Hay Creek to Goodhue, Zumbrota, Pine Island, and then the Douglas Trail to Rochester.

Getting back to reality... I like the idea of a St. Paul to Rochester train on existing rails via Owatonna. Would a Brightline / Virgin Trains USA kind of service work? It could all be done on Canadian Pacific rails (or at least their trackage rights through Northfield). Google says it's 2:12 Rochester-Owatonna-St.Paul-Minneapolis on highways, or 1:53 without the Minneapolis tag. I bet there would be a healthy market for a 2:00 train from St. Paul to Rochester. Sure, that's 0:40 longer than driving, but time spent on a train is not equal to time spent behind the steering wheel. Not only that, you'd have more trip pairs with stops in Northfield, Faribault, and Owatonna.

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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby mulad » January 19th, 2019, 9:43 am

Yeah, new/restored passenger services should take as many lessons as possible from Brightline as they can. Their trains are compliant with the old FRA crash(un)worthiness standards, so they could theoretically be plopped down anywhere in the US without the freights complaining too much. We'll have to see if any railroads will start allowing DMUs now that the rules should allow them (the modern DMUs that currently exist mostly operate using time-of-day waivers, from what I understand, so the tracks are either only being used by transit or only being used by freight, but not at the same time -- I think the only exception might be the Alaska Railroad, and they get to be different since they're isolated from the rest of the country).

Interesting point about trackage rights, though I'm not sure what sort of contract that entails. It would probably need to be renegotiated to allow passenger trains, but it would be good if passenger operations could just be contracted through one railroad rather than needing to deal with UP as well.

Taking a look at the FRA's rail crossing map, it looks like CP's tracks from the Comus junction (halfway between Northfield and Faribault) and Owatonna are unused at this point, showing 0 trains per day. Google Maps shows the corridor overgrown, so tracks may have been pulled up -- I'm not sure at this point. However, that alignment (mostly to the west, though the tracks cross over each other near Owatonna) has an existing junction that would let trains glide straight onto the east-west Waseca subdivision tracks to Rochester (looks like the extreme southern end of those tracks are still in place and active).

It appears that Union Pacific runs 10 trains per day on their Albert Lea subdivision, and it's maintained to allow 50 mph freight trains, so passenger trains could theoretically run 60 mph without any improvements. Hopefully that would mean it would be relatively easy to bump it up to 79 mph (or faster, since PTC should allow it). There isn't a junction with the Waseca subdivision in Owatonna on this line, but it would be relatively easy to build a junction to the CP tracks at the point where the lines cross over each other a bit north of Owatonna.

Anyway, yeah, people complain a lot about the idea of new trains and say nobody will ride them if they aren't faster than cars. Of course, my rule of thumb in the Twin Cities is that it takes about 4 times as long to take transit than it does to drive, even when leaving on time, so I think something that's only 1/4 or 1/3 slower is probably fine, especially if it connects to more useful places along the way.

Regarding the idea of going through Red Wing, I think it's worth looking at, but I think the old alignment there was really designed to make the tracks as flat as possible, but it had a considerable number of fairly sharp turns. New construction shouldn't be constrained by following the old route exactly, especially since passenger equipment is better at handling steeper grades than freight equipment is (especially the ancient hardware that was available when that line was originally built in the 19th century).

mattaudio
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby mattaudio » January 19th, 2019, 12:40 pm

mulad wrote:
January 19th, 2019, 9:43 am
Regarding the idea of going through Red Wing ... the old alignment there was really designed to make the tracks as flat as possible, but it had a considerable number of fairly sharp turns.
I used to go flyfishing on Hay Creek a fair amount, and it was fun to see remnants of the old railroad trestles over the creek that allowed the line to wiggle up the valley. Realistically I can't imagine this old grade being restored, since I recall hearing it has been gone for 60+ years and I can tell you first hand there's very little evidence of the old grade.
mulad wrote:
January 19th, 2019, 9:43 am
Interesting point about trackage rights, though I'm not sure what sort of contract that entails. ...
Taking a look at the FRA's rail crossing map, it looks like CP's tracks from the Comus junction (halfway between Northfield and Faribault) and Owatonna are unused at this point, showing 0 trains per day.
I'm curious whether it would be cheaper to upgrade the ex-Milwaukee Road line from Comus to Owatonna, or to double-track the ex-Rock Island road that's the current Union Pacific Spine Line (with CP trackage rights). I imagine double tracking the existing corridor is cheaper, particularly with regard to grade crossing protection and grade separation. Also, if both lines ran between Owatonna and Comus (Northfield) then directional running would make sense (similar to the CP/BNSF arrangement between St. Paul and Hastings/St. Croix Tower) but that would likely preclude a passenger station in Faribault since the lines are a couple miles apart and it wouldn't make sense to have two stations.

Maybe the state could help fund a double-tracking of the UP/CP mainline from Owatonna to Roseport in exchange for them providing rights for passenger trains to use the corridor. This mainline could serve MSP-Rochester and eventual MSP-Des Moines-Kansas City or MSP-Cedar Rapids-St. Louis lines too.

DanPatchToget
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Re: High Speed Rail MSP to Rochester

Postby DanPatchToget » January 19th, 2019, 1:17 pm

In regards to the CP line with 0 trains, it has the same status as the Dan Patch Line through northern Lakeville and Burnsville. All of the tracks are still there, just buried in overgrowth. The route is considered out-of-service, and can be reactivated at anytime if the railroad wishes to do so, but who knows when that will be. I'm not sure when the last train ran on the CP line south of Northfield, but when I drove along it in 2011 the railroad crossings were exempt status. The out-of-service Dan Patch tracks haven't had a train since the late 90s.


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