Friday, August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011 weekly rail news

Fun stuff:
  • The Minnesota Streetcar Museum is celebrating their 40th anniversary and they're teaming with a model train manufacturer to get HO-scale PCC streetcars released in a Twin City Rapid Transit paint scheme. Ordering by August 15th will allow for free shipping, although the pieces aren't expected to start arriving until December.

  • Along similar lines, a guy who apparently worked on designing the Hiawatha light-rail vehicles for Bombardier has been working on making his own HO-scale version of them. Here's one of his more recent videos:

  • The (group formerly known as?) "Friends of the 261" is planning its annual autumn excursions from Minneapolis up toward (but not quite to) Duluth and south toward Winona and La Crescent. October 8th and 9th. The Milwaukee Road 261 is still in the shop being overhauled, but it is expected to be operating again next year.

  • Streetfilms, who recently did a video on the expansion of Nice Ride into Saint Paul, also made a film about the Martin Olav Sabo bridge:
    Martin Olav Sabo Bridge (Minneapolis) from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Planning/construction news:
  • "The Interchange", an expansion of the light- and heavy-rail stations at Target Field in Minneapolis, got some news this week. It's now expected to cost less than $70 million to build (down from earlier projections), and should be operating by 2014, around the time that the Central Corridor is complete. The project will include an expanded pedestrian plaza in the currently cramped light rail station area plus a parking structure with 550 stalls (on top of how many thousand in a 2-block radius already?).

Collisions and other incidents (Amtrak nationally, Upper Midwest for freights):
  • A Canadian Pacific train derailed on their mainline northwest of Kensal, North Dakota on Saturday, August 6th due to a washout.

  • A female pedestrian walking along tracks in Simi Valley, California was struck and killed by an Amtrak train on August 10th. She apparently saw the train and made no effort to get out of the way.

  • No injuries were reported after a Union Pacific train sliced through a semi truck trailer hauling corn near Heron Lake in southwestern Minnesota today. The crossing is not signalized. It was apparently the second truck-train collision along the UP's line in the past week—Another one recently occurred in St. James, Minnesota.

  • 700 workers at Bombardier's facility in Thunder Bay, Ontario went on strike for two days this past week, although an agreement was reached on Friday. The plant makes bilevel passenger cars, streetcars, and subway cars, and has an order backlog totaling $34 billion.

  • Amtrak has released an iPhone app, which allows users to purchase and upgrade tickets from their mobile devices.

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