Study: East-metro rail upgrades will punch a pricey ticket

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 15, 2012 - 9:05 PM
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west336Oct. 15, 12 9:40 PM

Pretty cool -- I love trains! I'd like to know how to put "5% of the nation's freight volume" into perspective......what does the largest rail switch in Chicago, KC, St. Louis, Dallas, etc. handle? 5% seems like a fairly significant figure but then I usually hear of the cities mentioned above well before Minneapolis/St. Paul when it comes to freight rail.

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railroadOct. 15, 1211:18 PM

as a retired railroad employee, Mpls/St Paul is the hub for all traffic coming from Canada going south/east/west. With North Dakota having all the oil now, the oil is coming to the yard in St Paul to be sent to other areas of the country.

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jaketwotimesOct. 16, 1212:31 AM

A lot of people tend to complain when it comes to investing money into rail systems. You have to put it into perspective though, railways are by far the most efficient way to transport large amounts of freight. You also have to look at it as a long term investment. Will oil still be as cheap and readily available in 20 years as it is now? My guess would be no. Things like this take years, sometimes decades to implement. The US rail system was once the envy of the world, I hope someday we can regain that standing.

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whalesmnOct. 16, 12 2:59 AM

The U.S. actually still has, by far, the largest freight network in the world. It obviously used to be quite a bit bigger decades ago, but many of those lines were very lightly used and therefore were not cost effective to maintain. The U.S. rail network was actually massively overbuilt based on current market realities, and it has been shedding lines/mileage since it peaked in the 1920's. That said, it is great to hear that the railroads are in growth mode again, especially since there haven't been a lot of sectors in our economy that have seen much growth in recent years. It should be noted that most, if not all, the investment dollars needed will be coming from the railroads themselves in regards to freight traffic capacity improvements. The only way I could see passenger rail even approaching $800+ million in capacity upgrades in the east metro would be if high-speed rail from Chicago ever becomes a reality.

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Willy53Oct. 16, 12 5:33 AM

Let me see if I have this article right. The increase in rail traffic and volume will ultimately send the trains to other hubs. The expensive upgrades will idle traffic and trains. The imiplied notion of this is that an expanded highway system will not idle traffic and increase congestion which is preposterous. The fact is that rail traffic removes huge trucks from the roadways while commuter rail improves congestion dramatically. Even a 3-4% decrease in traffic levels is significant with respect to commuter traffic speeds. Somehow railroads are supposed to pay for themselves while highways are simply self supporting. Yeah right, that's why the St. Croix Bridge needs almost a half a billion dollars of federal money to build it while have almost zero impact on traffic in the metro except to require another 300 million dollars in upgrades along the new, expensive corridor that will add dollars to the yearly maintenance budget.

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jbhall56Oct. 16, 12 6:05 AM

While high speed passenger rail is likely a pipe dream for the foreseeable future, the need to keep the freight trains moving is very real. While a lot of freight moves via trucks, the bulk shipment of goods over long distances via rail is still cheaper than trucks. If the Twin Cities wants to maintain its credibility as a hub of commerce, it needs to be part of the freight rail system and not become a bottleneck.

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woodpecOct. 16, 12 6:16 AM

For someone who grew up in Europe, 110 trains a day does not sound too impressive; part of that is of course the two daily passenger trains, something you can only imagine in the most remote place in Europe. There must be a lot more trains going through many of the busy Euorpean lines. What is VERY impressive though is the 10000 rail cars. That really shows the volume of goods that rail is taking care of in an environmentally much friendlier way than trucks.

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EleanoreOct. 16, 12 7:15 AM

I'm not understanding this, why would Ramsey county or any local governemnt have a railroad authority body when railroads come under either federal or private authority? Seems like the bill for any study or action should be landing there, not on the local tax dime.

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cavellOct. 16, 12 7:16 AM

why is volume CERTAIN to increase? is the volume of goods produced certain to increase? and it will all be shipped via rail?

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drposterOct. 16, 12 7:25 AM

I guess this was to soften the recent talk about our "commuter" lines. Two different animals. Freight rail pays, and provides a legit service and has quantifiable results regarding road traffic and wear.

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