Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1, 2012 weekly rail news

Fun stuff:

Imagery from the Google Streetview project to photograph along the Rhaetian Railway in Switzerland has now been made available. My only complaint is that it doesn't seem very easy to jump forward or backward along the line -- the route doesn't really appear when I drag the little Streetview man across a map... Still, it's pretty neat:

View Larger Map

Minnesota stuff:

A conversation over at Minnescraper brought up the fact that the first new Siemens light-rail vehicles for the Hiawatha Line will arrive by rail in Minneapolis in August with a second in September. After a few months of setup and training, the two should begin regular service in December. Two more LRVs are scheduled to arrive in December, and arrivals will ramp up after that with a few coming in each month until 2014. 59 have been ordered so far, with some going to the Hiawatha Line (Blue Line) and the others going to the Central Corridor (Green Line). 40 more can optionally be purchased—such orders would likely be pursued for the Southwest LRT (Green Line extension to Eden Prairie).

Nice Ride MN bike stations have begun to be deployed around Minneapolis and Saint Paul for the 2012 season. The bike system, which started in 2010 and expanded into western Saint Paul in 2011, is expected to expand into downtown Saint Paul in the May/June timeframe.

As mentioned in the previous edition, the Northstar station in Ramsey had a groundbreaking ceremony this past week.

National stuff:

Passenger service in the Chicago–St. Louis corridor will be disrupted in three bursts between April 16th to May 25th as tracks are upgraded for higher-speed travel. Lincoln Service riders will need to switch to buses if they travel southwest beyond Springfield, and Texas Eagle riders who wish to travel to destinations between Chicago and St. Louis will also have to take alternate bus transportation because the Eagle will be rerouted during construction periods.

It seems unlikely to me, but the Secret Service is considering halting freight and passenger rail service under the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago for a two-day NATO conference on May 20th and 21st.

The DesertXPress project to run high-speed trains from Victorville, California to Las Vegas, Nevada may soon get a $4.9 billion federal loan.

Streetsblog's Washington, D.C. edition had a rundown of several stories about the Florida East Coast Railway's announcement that they are planning to return to passenger service. The main question is, how do they plan to make back the roughly $1 billion they plan to invest? It seems likely that at least some money will come from real estate along the route, particularly FEC-owned land in downtown Miami. The Reason & Rail blog has had several articles on the subject of the FEC—One that piqued my interest discussed the level of ridership needed for the line to break even.

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