Amtrak Service Chicago - St Paul (Empire Builder 2nd Freq)

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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:59 pm

As far as I know, ground power was to be added. Not sure if it ever was, and I know it wasn't added right off the bat like it ought to have been. Turning will still be done at the end of the Merriam Park Sub (ex-MILW, for non-Twin Citians or railroaders), and no trains will head up the Midway or St. Paul Subs (former GN and NP mains between St. Paul and Mpls respectively) unless there is an accident or construction detour. Either way, private cars will still be added on MNNR rails.
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby vermontanan » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:41 pm

SPUD will be a DUD.

While it's great to see a station that hasn't been used in years returning to its original function, this is not a change for the better. The stop at SPUD will be further for more people in the Twin Cities to use, parking (which is abundant and free now) will not be as available, and the stop will likely delay the train on many occasions as any work such as adding cars will still need to be done at the current station. The former Great Northern station in Minneapolis was obviously the best location for a station in the Twin Cities, but it's gone. The current station is indeed "Midway" between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, has easy access to major highway arteries, and offers the best situation for modifying the consist of the Empire Builder when necessary. Yes, I'm sure that the renovated SPUD will be fun to visit in its historic grandeur, but from the perspective of practical advantages for travelers over the current stop, I can think of none.
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby Woodcrest295 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:28 pm

SPUD will have light rail right outside with direct one seat access to Downtown Saint Paul, The Capitol Building, UM, and Downtown Minneapolis. The midway station is a shack, not walkable and near almost no connecting transit. I doubt using SPUD would be considered feasible without the light rail.
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:02 am

Actually, Union Depot's freeway access is better than that of Midway Station. From the east and southeast (US 10/61), take the Mounds Blvd. exit off I-94, hang a left on Kellogg, and you pass right under the concourse. If you prefer, you can also take the 6th St. exit off I-94 and end up a few blocks north of Union Depot. From the north off I-35E, the Wacouta St. exit places you seven blocks north of the depot, and off I-94 from the west the Wall St. exit puts you six blocks north and a block east of the depot.

Compare that with Midway - the Cretin-Vandalia exit puts you six or seven blocks from the station, but not in a direct path. Even from University Avenue, the only sign of Midway Station is, well, a sign on the corner of University where Cleveland and Transfer Road intersect. Not at all obvious, and even less so for people coming from the north - Pierce Butler Route is a nice shortcut off MN 51/Snelling Avenue, but also not well known to anyone but BNSF intermodal truckers. I won't deny that it will be annoying to have to make two stops though. Shame they can't just put up a platform at East Minneapolis Junction and have the 261 crew switch out PVs for their own house track.

As for Midway, I kind of like it, even though I'm anxious for SPUD. It may be an Amshack on steroids. but it's always reminded me of the glory days of 1970s air travel with the funny overhead lounge and general decor. Hopefully it gets used by someone willing to keep the finer parts of the building (yes, I know, don't laugh.)
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:59 pm

A couple of thoughts/questions:
I'll repeat what I said earlier: the westbound Builder arrives late in the evening; will local transit still be operating at that hour? What if the Builder is running late? I think it'll be a taxi ride from the station to wherever you're going.

As for Midway, I didn't mind it at all when I used it [to wait for a departure to Essex, MT]. I had a room, and so I used the First Class Waiting Room [not a lounge, though]. Will Union Depot have a similar accomodation for first class passengers?
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:10 pm

The 21 (Uptown-Lake St-Selby Ave) and 54 (7th St-MSP Airport-Mall of America) buses both turn around at Union Depot, and they both are all-night buses that can get you to other connections. I assume the new LRT will run 24 hours a day too, with very reduced service (1/hour) overnight like the current 55 LRT. Then again, most of the Twin Cities has poor public transit late at night - the move from Midway Station won't change that. I'd feel safer in Union Depot anyway, since there's a small nightlife district a couple blocks from the Depot, and only a somewhat-sketchy hotel and a McDonalds within a few blocks of Midway.

I don't know about a waiting hall for first-class passengers, though I'm sure Christo's would be happy to find a seat for westbound passengers at their bar.
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby Rockingham Racer » Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:18 am

I'll drink to that!
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:20 pm

Bad news: still no train service to Union Depot, only Jefferson Lines buses.


Good news: RCRRA is keeping the building occupied - with the world's largest Lite Brite.
http://www.facebook.com/uniondepot/post ... 4120965201
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Apr 08, 2013 6:00 pm

FINALLY. Fair use quote:

http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_22929854

Josh Collins, a spokesman for the Regional Railroad Authority, said Tuesday marked a key turning point for the planned spur that will connect the Amtrak train from the Union Depot passenger platform to nearby freight tracks.

The Ramsey County commissioners signed the last necessary agreement with BNSF Railroad to complete the track connection and signal system.

"That was the last of the construction contracts that had to happen between us and each of the three private railroad companies," Collins said. "That means everybody's agreed on the design and how things are going to function. We'll be looking for construction to start later this spring."


I wasn't aware at first, but apparently RCRRA is installing a northbound connection onto the BNSF as well as to the CP Merriam Park Sub. I don't know what mention of the third company (UP) means - if they simply needed approval from them as a major tenant of CP Rail tracks (I was under the impression they don't own any tracks east of the State St. Yard until passing through Hoffman), or if they are actively seeking a connection to the ex-CGW lift bridge.
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby David Benton » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:08 am

Is it possible he thinks of Amtrak as a private railroad company ?.
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby Tadman » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:36 am

Either that or he's thinking of Minnesota Commercial, the terminal railroad in the twin cities.
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:26 am

Could be MNNR, I hadn't thought of that. I took a tour with Mr. Collins during the construction phase though, and he was definitely knowledgeable enough to know that Amtrak is public (though whether the Pioneer Press-Dispatch caught the difference, I don't know.)

I'll have to do some digging, unless a story comes out soon with more details.
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby Ridgefielder » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:16 am

According to the map on their website (which amusingly seems to be lifted from an old Trains article) MNNR has trackage rights through SPUD.

http://www.mnnr.net/images/mnnr_map.jpg
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:55 pm

Yup. They have rights to Northtown and Shoreham Yards on the north side, to Pig's Eye Yard to the south, and to Bayport over UP all the way to the east. I don't know if they have rights to serve SPUD now, but it would make sense.

As a bit of trivia unrelated to today's operations, the Minnesota Transfer Railway shared management with the St. Paul Union Depot company, and both were jointly owned by all Twin Cities-area major railroads. Since the 1980s though, the Minnesota Transfer and SPUD companies have been majority-owned by BN(SF), and I'm not sure either exists anymore. The privately-held Minnesota Commercial bought all assets of MTRR, and SPUD simply had no operations left after 1971.
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Re: St Paul Union Depot

Postby Rockingham Racer » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:28 pm

What's the name of the interlocking plant where SPUD is located?
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