• Amtrak Empire Builder 2nd Daily Frequency Chicago - St Paul

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by njtmnrrbuff
 
The old Midway Amtrak depot would probably be a good place to store and service the train. I'm sure that MN will want Amtrak to have the 2nd train terminate at SPUD.
  by Arborwayfan
 
Sorry Tadman, I was unclear. I meant exactly what you said: If the train ran through to Big Lake for servicing it would would make sense to carry passengers because free money and free frequency.

SPUS takes good advantage of being on the bluff, so that the concourse is at street level and the tracks are down below. The only drawback might be one that's relevant here: the light rail is out in the street, not, as in Dallas, more or less across the platform from the trains. But there is a bus terminal around one of the former platforms. I have some pictures I took when I was there, but I can't seem to figure out how to post pictures here today. https://www.google.com/maps/search/sain ... a=!3m1!1e3. Amtrak is at Gate C, furthest from the headhouse. Gate b is the "historic stair" and leads to an unused plaform with clear ROWs on both sides. Gate A leads to the bus terminal. It looks to me like there are various ways to ease connections to Mpls. The simplest would might make sense to let detraining passengers walk across to the bus platforms without going up into the station, and-or to let cabs pick up and drop off in the parking lot that is almost adjacent to the Amtrak platform. If there were substantial demand, it would be easy to bring a Thruway quite close to the train, and offer connecting express bus service to a couple points in Mpls.
  by Tadman
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Wed May 13, 2020 1:15 pm The only drawback might be one that's relevant here: the light rail is out in the street, not, as in Dallas, more or less across the platform from the trains.
The light rail situation in MSP is a bit frustrating overall. It's almost an hour ride to Minneapolis side versus a 15-20 minute cab ride (not at rush hour). I like to ride the train but I'm not too interested in another hour on hard LRV seats after 8ish hours up from Chicago. This assumes I'm going to downtown Minneapolis, which is far more vibrant than downtown Saint Paul. ALthough of late I've found I like to stay in that Hyatt Place downtown Saint Paul right by the station.

This begs the question: why are people travelling to MSP? I'm certainly not an expert, but I come for:

1. trade shows (downtown minneapolis mostly)
2. MSP airport (south suburban)
3. business in the suburbs (northerly)
4. grab a car for driving to Duluth

There is also
5. Valley Fair Amusement park (far southwest)
6. Mall of America (adjacent to airport)
7. a bunch of cabins on lakes (mostly far north and east)
8. Twins (target field near north Minneapolis)
9. The Timberwolves (Target Center Minneapolis)
10. NHL Wild (Xcel Center Saint Paul)
11. NFL Vikings (downtown minneapolis)
12. Target HQ (downtown Minneapolis) and Best Buy HQ (south suburbs)
13. State capitol, downtown STP

I honestly have to ask, was SPUD the wisest choice? It seems Saint Paul is not nearly as vibrant as Minneapolis.
  by Arborwayfan
 
I have only been to St. Paul, not Minneapolis, and it was on a weekend, mostly a Sunday, but what you say sounds right to me. Downtown St. Paul seems to be mostly offices that clear out.

I assume SPUD (Depot sounds weird to me for a big city station, but you're right, that's its name) became the Amtrak stop because the trains ran right past it anyway and the the city and a nonprofit were restoring it for other purposes. From what people have said here there's no easy station in Minneapolis that's on the Empire Builder's route. Is that about right? (And there's a lot in avoiding backup moves. Denver can be really frustrating.)
  by mtuandrew
 
Ramsey County (encompassing St. Paul and a bit more) invested in SPUD as both a train station and a neighborhood redevelopment tool. The county and St. Paul did a good job of developing Lowertown around Union Depot, the Farmer’s Market, and the new minor league baseball stadium. (It’s one of the few parts of St. Paul with reasonable nightlife.)

If Minneapolis and Hennepin County want to be the regional rail hub instead, they will need to outdo St. Paul at this point. Funny, since St. Paul was always the preeminent regional transportation hub (from flatboats to railroads) while Minneapolis was the preeminent industrial center (from grain milling to corporate headquarters.)
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
People coming off Amtrak trains in St. Paul will probably not want to switch to a light rail for a 50 minute ride to a downtown area that is, in reality, is 12 miles, especially with a lot of suitcases. For those people who want to take public transportation to Minneapolis after getting off the train in St. Paul-it looks like MetroTransit runs the 65 bus which does the trip between SPUD and Downtown Minneapolis in less than half the time that it takes to take light rail.
  by Arborwayfan
 
I figured it was a local development initiative, mtuandrew. Thanks for the confirmation. And I could see the work that had been done when I was there a couple years back.

Mpls shouldn't have to outdo SPUD to become the regional rail hub. The big city 12 miles away from SPUD should be able to get a stop on the train without having to replace SPUD, if it's feasible to get the train there in a reasonable amount of time for a reasonable amount of money. People should be able to get the train to/from both of those places, especially if it's a train that doesn't have to head further north or west beyond Mpls. If both downtowns were on the Empire Builder route and there were existing stations open for other trains in both downtowns, the Builder might very well stop at both stations now.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
That's true, both the Builder and the 2nd train should be able to serve Minneapolis as well. The situation here is a little like saying how there are many Amtrak trains that only serve Richmond Staples Mill Road Station that don't run into Downtown Richmond(this will change eventually). If Minnesota and Amtrak can't work out an agreement with any of the host freight railroads to provide a direct connection between St. Paul and Minneapolis, then it might be best to look into having some sort of bus that runs from Minneapolis as well as surrounding towns. Very few people will want to take the Green Line light rail from SPUD to Minneapolis because the route is slow. If there was an express light rail train, then people may opt to do that.
  by Tadman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Wed May 13, 2020 4:10 pm If Minneapolis and Hennepin County want to be the regional rail hub instead, they will need to outdo St. Paul at this point. Funny, since St. Paul was always the preeminent regional transportation hub (from flatboats to railroads) while Minneapolis was the preeminent industrial center (from grain milling to corporate headquarters.)
I don't know that they need to do anything. Minneapolis, like it or not, is the destination. They can put the "transportation hub" wherever they want it, but it's not very useful when a 1 hour streetcar ride is necessary. This isn't a problem so far with the Builder because riders are already in for a long ride and possibly very late. But when the focus is on Duluth or Chicago trains?

There's a reason Northstar commuter trains don't continue on to Saint Paul. Riders are going to Minneapolis, and it wasn't worth slogging it out across the midway area to Saint Paul.
njt/mnrrbuff wrote: Wed May 13, 2020 5:19 pm People coming off Amtrak trains in St. Paul will probably not want to switch to a light rail for a 50 minute ride to a downtown area that is, in reality, is 12 miles, especially with a lot of suitcases. For those people who want to take public transportation to Minneapolis after getting off the train in St. Paul-it looks like MetroTransit runs the 65 bus which does the trip between SPUD and Downtown Minneapolis in less than half the time that it takes to take light rail.
Completely agree with this and it's absolutely crazy that a bus beats the light rail. I mean why even spend the money on the light rail? "Hi we just spent a zillion billion dollars on a street car, you can ride the bus in half the time".
  by Arborwayfan
 
Probably the light rail is designed to carry large numbers of people over fairly short trips, not mostly to take people from end to end. It's residential in the middle with business districts at both ends. I would bet a lot that most of its passengers ride from somewhere in the middle to one of the downtowns and that the trip takes about the same time that a bus would take on the same route. It needs frequent stops to get stations within walking distance of a lot of passengers. It's also a big curve, whereas the bus probably goes in a much straighter line.

Light rail is a way for one operator to move a couple hundred people at once without having to build a tunnel or an el or elaborate platforms. It's not necessarily supposed to be faster than other modes.
  by mtuandrew
 
Arborwayfan wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 2:21 pm Probably the light rail is designed to carry large numbers of people over fairly short trips, not mostly to take people from end to end. It's residential in the middle with business districts at both ends. I would bet a lot that most of its passengers ride from somewhere in the middle to one of the downtowns and that the trip takes about the same time that a bus would take on the same route. It needs frequent stops to get stations within walking distance of a lot of passengers. It's also a big curve, whereas the bus probably goes in a much straighter line.

Light rail is a way for one operator to move a couple hundred people at once without having to build a tunnel or an el or elaborate platforms. It's not necessarily supposed to be faster than other modes.
Exactly. From when I’ve ridden the Green Line, a large proportion of ridership is just downtown Minneapolis-U of M. There are a good number of end-to-end riders though; despite the speed difference I think people prefer trains to buses.

If Minneapolis wants an Amtrak stop, to me it makes most sense to put it here.
  by Tadman
 
We've discussed Duluth train endpoints here a bit, so it's worth noting a recent find. BN terminated the northerly end in Superior with a bus to Duluth. Just like I had been suggesting. Evidently BN found it just as hard in 1970 to get over the river when there were far more routes and bridges.
  by Pensyfan19
 
Huge update: this proposal received a $31.8 million grant!

https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2 ... lion-grant
Commissioners in Ramsey County, Minn., say the effort to launch a second daily train between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago will be the recipient of a $31.8 million federal grant. The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports an official announcement of the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected later this week. The money will complete final design work to infrastructure needed to accommodate the second train, as well as construction of track, signal, and bridge improvements. Matching funds from Minnesota ($10 million), Wisconsin ($6.2 million) and Amtrak ($5 million) will also go toward the project, which would extend one existing Hiawatha round trip to serve the Twin Cities.

In other CRISI grants announced by politicians in the areas receiving funding:

— The Michigan Department of Transportation will receive $15.6 million to improve pedestrian crossings between Dearborn and Kalamazoo along Amtrak’s Michigan Line, which aims to eventually host 110-mph operation. The route has seen 12 pedestrians struck by trains in the last four years, in addition to a number of near-misses.

— The Washington State Department of Transportation has received a $3.7 million grant for landslide mitigation north of Seattle. MyEdmondsNews.com reports the grant, to be matched by state and private funding, will address a slide-prone area south of Mukilteo, Wash., that often leads to service interruptions on a line served by 14 passenger trains and an average of 21 freight trains per day. The money will go toward the third phase of a program that began in 2016.
  by gokeefe
 
Chalk up another win for St. Paul Union Depot ... More than one route serving the station ... Yet another "first time since A-Day" milestone ...

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

  by mtuandrew
 
I love this!

Hoping it’ll be a reverse of the Empire Builder schedule for the most part, but perhaps at a little more civilized time. I’d like to see the new service take over train 331’s schedule (dep CHI 8:25a, arr MKE 9:54a -> arr MSP ~4:30p), and the other direction perhaps train 342 (dep MSP ~1:00p, arr MKE 7:35p, arr CHI 9:04p).
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