Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11, 2011 weekly rail news

Fun stuff:

  • The Milwaukee Road 261 locomotive is nearing the end of its rebuild. The boiler had been taken off of the driving wheels several months ago, but they were reunited this week. Here's a photo.

  • Minneapolis musician Mason Jennings has a track called "Empire Builder":

  • There was a post on Greater Greater Washington this week about a Transit Near Me tool that a few folks have been working on. I've always thought that type of tool was a good idea, since it gives a personalized transit map of nearby lines that should be much easier to understand than a general transit map showing everything.

Planning, funding, and construction:

  • A reminder that there will be open houses for the 110-mph link between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee/Chicago this week: From 5–7 pm each night at the Stillwater Public Library (Monday, in Stillwater) and Winona County Historical Society (Tuesday, in Winona). There will also be a webinar Wednesday evening.

  • The Starling Project got some coverage this week. It's an effort to connect commercial landlords who have properties along the Central Corridor with artists and small businesses that need space. They're initially focusing on the 1-mile stretch of University Avenue from Minnesota State Highway 280 to Vandalia Street (the only stretch of University itself that both has new pavement and tracks laid in the ground).

  • Fares are going up a bit for the Northstar Link bus which connects riders from St. Cloud and Becker to the Northstar commuter line in Big Lake. The standard one-way fare of $1.50 is going up to $1.75 (still cheap for a nearly 30-mile run).

  • Bombardier's CEO suggests that Amtrak should invest in its rail network rather than new high-speed train equipment.

  • PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter was fed Frank Lautenberg's statement "Last year we spent more than $40 billion on highways. And Lord knows we need that. But that's more than we spent on Amtrak in its entire 40-year history.". The result: True.


  • The Polar Express train operated by the Adirondack Scenic Railroad in New York derailed on Thursday the 8th. I first thought this was like other "Santa trains" around the country where the train itself carries Christmas-y stuff to onlookers in towns along the line, but in this case the train carries passengers to the "North Pole" to see Santa. It derailed outside Utica with about 300 people onboard, but only one person had a minor injury in the incident.


  • The National Association of Rail Passengers did a roundup of coverage of regional air service being cut. They highlighted the example of the Pittsburgh–Philadelphia link, which is expected to jump in cost from $118 to $698 for a round-trip (excluding taxes and fees) once Southwest exits the market in January.

  • In a week, it'll be 50 years since the Metropolitan Building got torn down in Minneapolis. The Star Tribune had a special story on it, including a shot of the central light well and its glass flooring.

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