Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 4, 2011 weekly rail news

Fun stuff:

I guess I missed news of the BNSF holiday train, but the Canadian Pacific train is running through parts of Minnesota this week.

Planning, funding, and construction:
  • Christos reopened in the headhouse of the Saint Paul Union Depot on Thursday, December 1st. I poked my head in on Friday and saw that the main room is done, but there's still work being done everywhere else—including the area shown in last week's edition that includes a new (yet old-looking) elevator. Channel 9 seems to have been the only outlet to carry the news. (The reporter mischaracterized who is doing the work a little bit by saying it is being done by the federal government, but much if not most of the money came from the feds).

    First Phase of Union Depot Renovation Opens to Public:

  • Ramsey County is seeking private partners to manage the depot and operate its bike facility.

  • The Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority also posted more videos of their own this week. I think this one is more interesting, as it gives an idea of how the repaired plaster will look in the waiting room:

    Their other video is weird because it includes a banner for the musical Always... Patsy Cline appearing at the Ordway (which I don't get because the show didn't exist until the late '80s).

  • In Jamestown, ND, the local paper lays out the controversy about a proposed rail loop and how opponents contend the money would be better spent repairing city infrastructure. You know things are complicated when a news article includes a glossary. Curiously, it seems that a new coal-fired power plant in the city (and apparently at the site) is not going to be activated until 2013. The plant was supposed to supply steam to a new ethanol plant. (Oh, but have you heard? We've basically hit the 10% ethanol blend wall.)

  • From Reason & Rail: Good news, but unambitious plans for passenger rail in Florida. (Yeah, that makes me think of what would have happened if passenger service to Duluth was only built to the minimum standard as opposed to something that should [hopefully] operate in the black.)

  • The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is seeking funding to help cover the costs of a 15-year inspectian and maintenance cycle for their Soo Line 2719 locomotive. They're trying to get money from a highway fund for the job.


  • Amtrak set a Thanksgiving week record for ridership, with preliminary numbers saying they carried 720,000 passengers. Final numbers should be available soon. The railroad put all of its available rolling stock to use to deal with the heavier loads.

  • Here in Saint Paul, Ford's oldest plant is shutting down in a few days. The Star Tribune had a good writeup.

  • Apparently all of the nation's rail unions have come to agreements with their respective companies, so there is no longer any threat of a strike on December 5th. As the URPA outlined, a strike would have been very bad and probably would have halted freight trains, Amtrak services, and commuter railroads.

  • Watco Transportation Services has bought two regional railroads and started a third. The Wisconsin & Southern Railroad and the Birmingham Southern Railroad were both purchased. The former has been questioned a bit because of the WSOR's connection to the Koch Family. The latter deal is expected to cause major layoffs for BSR workers. Watco also started up the Swan Ranch Railroad short line in Cheyenne, Wyoming in an industrial park situated between BNSF and Union Pacific tracks.

  • Another story in a thread that will become pretty common: BNSF is hiring, Whitefish, MT edition.

  • Reason & Rail: Pacific Surfliner to move to a yield managed fare system

  • Greater Greater Washington: For highways, getting a 'D' isn't so bad

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