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  #801  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2012, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
New Talgo rendering.

I want to be pissed at how ugly this thing is, but I can't stop laughing. Seriously, is this the best we can do under FRA regulations? The damn thing is smiling at me.

I think it just winked at you, too!
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  #802  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2012, 12:32 AM
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Good news about the second Empire Builder. It would be helpful if they branded that trip differently; the Empire Builder was always a well-known long distance train and not a corridor service. If anything, Hiawatha is a more fitting name for a Chi-Mpls train, as the Hiawathas were primarily Midwestern regional trains. They could call it the Twin Cities Hiawatha to avoid confusion, I suppose.

I've heard that part of the reason for this proposal is because Chicago-Mpls passengers were being driven off of the Empire Builder in favor of long-distance passengers. A decent maintenance facility somewhere in the Twin Cities could increase the utility of the existing Empire Builder run by allowing a new set of coach cars to be added and decoupled, which provides the capacity where it is needed and prevents Amtrak from having to lug those cars all the way to Seattle. This would come at a lower operating cost than a whole new daily run - although Minnesota should still pursue both.

---

There's some boneheaded planning going on, though. Minneapolis is now seriously investigating the "Zip Rail" project, either a 150-mph or 220-mph line between Minneapolis and Rochester. It's foolish to sink money into this and then NOT use it as part of a Twin Cities-Chicago route. The dedicated route would allow for much greater time savings and higher ridership versus a curvy legacy alignment that is owned and pretty much dominated by Canadian Pacific.

Minnesota seems to be the only state willing to put skin in the game at this point, but they're endorsing a route for Twin Cities-Chicago that only serves Minnesota's small river cities and therefore serves fewer Minnesota residents than a Rochester alignment. If Wisconsin wants to elect backwards politicians, then they should lose out as the rest of the world moves on without them. Minnesota has no obligation to fight for increased service to Eau Claire, La Crosse, or any other Wisconsin city.
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  #803  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2012, 1:27 AM
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.edit...

Last edited by VivaLFuego; Jan 22, 2012 at 6:14 PM.
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  #804  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2012, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
---
There's some boneheaded planning going on, though. Minneapolis is now seriously investigating the "Zip Rail" project, either a 150-mph or 220-mph line between Minneapolis and Rochester. It's foolish to sink money into this and then NOT use it as part of a Twin Cities-Chicago route. The dedicated route would allow for much greater time savings and higher ridership versus a curvy legacy alignment that is owned and pretty much dominated by Canadian Pacific.

Minnesota seems to be the only state willing to put skin in the game at this point, but they're endorsing a route for Twin Cities-Chicago that only serves Minnesota's small river cities and therefore serves fewer Minnesota residents than a Rochester alignment. If Wisconsin wants to elect backwards politicians, then they should lose out as the rest of the world moves on without them. Minnesota has no obligation to fight for increased service to Eau Claire, La Crosse, or any other Wisconsin city.

Minnesota is definitely making big time progress in their regional and local commuter rails commitment. From what I can discern, the Rochester alignment was on the table for the recently released Chi-Minny HrSR study. But when Walker was elected, WI totally bailed on the study and left MN holding the tab to complete the study. MN had really no option but to conclude that the existing route was the most feasible. Without cooperation from their neighboring state they could not advance a route that would require New Dedicated rail miles thorough WI. Rochester city leaders have been very vocal about supporting rail especially with their premier medical facilities laying on the new ROW. If it ends up being a 150 mph service between Roch-Minn then good for them---IL should be doing a dedicated 90-110mpn ROW with the Rockford - RCKFD Int'l - O'Hare - Chicago route.

Last edited by jpIllInoIs; Jan 22, 2012 at 11:51 AM.
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  #805  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2012, 12:21 PM
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UIUC to lead HrSR research

Story link

USDOT grants target three rail, intermodal research centers

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recently awarded a $3.5 million grant to a multi-university consortium led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to establish a rail transportation and engineering research center.

Headquartered within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Illinois, the National University Rail (NURail) Center
will focus on rail education and research to improve railroad safety, efficiency and reliability. The center primarily will focus on challenges associated with rail corridors in which higher-speed passenger trains share infrastructure with freight trains, consortium officials said in a prepared statement. Research projects will focus on track and structures; train control; rolling stock; human factors; and other topics identified based on Federal Railroad Administration and Association of American Railroads priorities.

NURail will be the first University Transportation Center focused solely on rail, consortium officials said.

The consortium also includes the University of Illinois at Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan Technical University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, University of Kentucky and University of Tennessee. The NURAIL center will be directed by Professor Christopher Barkan, who serves as director of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s railroad engineering program.

The USDOT also awarded a $3.5 million grant to a Mississippi State University- and University of Denver-led consortium to establish the National Center for Intermodal Transportation for Economic Competitiveness (NCITEC) in Colorado.

The new center will work to promote the development of an integrated, economically competitive, efficient, safe, secure and sustainable national intermodal transportation network by integrating all transportation modes both for freight and passenger mobility, consortium officials said in a prepared statement. The consortium also includes Hampton University, Louisiana State University and the University of Mississippi.

The center’s areas of expertise will include intermodal planning, safety and security, public policy, workforce development and economic competitiveness. The NCITEC will focus on the economics, assessment, design, and development of planning methodologies, operational tools, technology and human resources needed to improve intermodal connectivity and capacity, and to reduce congestion in the nation’s transportation system, consortium officials said. The NCITEC will also will seek to improve the transportation workforce’s capacity and capability.

Meanwhile, the USDOT awarded a $3.5 million grant to a consortium led by the University of Memphis and University of Wisconsin for the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE).

The University of Memphis will coordinate the center’s southern hub, which includes Vanderbilt University, the University of Alabama-Huntsville, and University of Southern Mississippi. The University of Wisconsin will serve as CFIRE’s lead institute and will head the northern hub, which includes the University of Wisconsin-Superior, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Toledo, University of Illinois-Chicago and Michigan Technological University.

CFIRE aims to maximize the effectiveness of multi-modal and intermodal development in the region and nation to move freight efficiently from border to border and abroad, consortium officials said in a prepared statement, adding that those objectives will help create jobs job and sustain growth.
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  #806  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2012, 7:25 PM
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How does that happen when the (current) governor vehamently opposes HSR and makes it impossible for the state of WI to be a part of it? I'm not saying I disagree with the funding or the direction of where the funds have gone, but unless something changes WI shouldn't be using public funds for HSR studies until it can show it is willing to buck up for the future of HSR.

As a Minnesotan (former), I want to see a Chicago to Minneapolis (via WI) route happen and WI's involvement to date has really been disappointing (not that I blame liberal Wisconsinites)!
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  #807  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2012, 8:01 PM
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For the sake of maximum ridership, all the major population centers between Chicago and Minneapolis should be on the same line. Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, LaCrosse, Rochester, and St. Paul.

Kenosha/Racine should be as well, but I think this is a role for local transit to connect to Sturtevant and Pleasant Prairie. Eau Claire, too, except that a Rochester alignment precludes running through Eau Claire, and Rochester's the bigger of the two.

I'd love to see a greenfield alignment that went from St. Paul to Rochester, followed by an I-90 route to LaCrosse, and then another greenfield alignment through the Driftless Area/Wisconsin Valley to Madison that entered from the west and crossed the isthmus. From there the line would go to Milwaukee and Chicago along upgraded conventional routes.
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Last edited by ardecila; Feb 8, 2012 at 2:48 AM.
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  #808  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2012, 9:24 PM
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Lightbulb

Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. The Talgo Cab cars still look prettier than F40 NPTUs.


Not only do they weigh less, they're more streamlined too; which means less fuel consumed pushing or pulling them.
I will admit this EU approved design would look sharper...
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  #809  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2012, 8:01 PM
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Is a Chicago-Fort Wayne-Toledo-Cleveland-Pittsburgh route still in the works, or was that axed thanks to the incompetence of Ohio's governor?
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  #810  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2012, 10:15 PM
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Its is a long range goal. Ohio shouldn't accept all of the blame. Indiana promoted that route on the first round of the poorly named HSR program. But since Indiana had done next to nothing by way of passenger rail planning in 20 years, they had little to advocate to the USDOT & FRA other than a line drawing on a map. So they were bypassed for funding. Indiana did however determine that the "Southern Route" is preferred for the "HrSR" route to Columbus & Pitt. The southern route includes Valparaiso & Ft. Wayne rather than the Northern route which included South Bend & Elkhart. Their is a vocal and active passenger rail group in Ft. Wayne that has done some lobbying and held public forums.

Credit is due to Indiana for cooperating with ILL and MICH to submit the "Indiana Gateway" proposal to the USDOT. The Indiana Gateway did secure a $71mil grant to fix some of the Chicago area bottlenecks around Gary In. It is an important step in moving passenger rail more quickly within the Chicago Terminal. But it is not HrSR or HSR and it has nothing to do with the future CHI-Columbus-PIT route.

Check out the study on the Indiana DOT website. This passes for an action plan?

" Northern IN-Ohio route plan"

Last edited by jpIllInoIs; Jan 23, 2012 at 10:32 PM.
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  #811  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2012, 10:19 PM
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You would think that Indy-Chicago would be a primary quick(er) passenger rail corridor.
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  #812  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2012, 1:00 AM
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I read the report regarding the Chicago-Cleveland corridor, and I think it's rather interesting how not only will the southern allignment through Ft. Wayne will produce more revenue, but it will also cost less to build. I do believe it should be in the best interest to include Pittsburgh in some way. It is a large economic center technically considered part of the Midwest -- on the fringe of the Midwest/Northeast, if you will. This corridor Chi-land-burgh, as I like to call it, is considered a metropolis like the Northeast Corridor. It's not quite as populous, but it has quite a few large economic centers along the way.

I can see a Chi-Columbus-Pittsburgh routing as well. However, I think it would be rather expensive to build considering the hillier, curvier nature of the geography, particularly between Columbus and Pittsburgh. It would be nice if the alignment included a stop at KPIT, but then I'm referring to the Ohio-hub proposal, which we all know is dead...
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  #813  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2012, 1:59 AM
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You would think that Indy-Chicago would be a primary quick(er) passenger rail corridor.
Any service to points south and east is constrained by the rail junction mess on Chicago's South Side, where there are no time slots available for extra Amtrak trains. From what I understand the problem for Indy trains is with the level crossing of the UP and BRC in Dolton, where Amtrak trains often wait several hours to cross.

Once Grand Crossing and Englewood flyovers are completed, that will open up a new, relatively conflict-free route for Chi-Indy trains and vastly improve their reliability. At that point, the ball will be in Indiana's court if they want to fund any additional service on the line or speed improvements.

Illinois got some serious Federal love in the last funding rounds because we've been planning for rail improvements for decades. I remember being in 4th grade and hearing about the endangered species that might be affected by 110mph trains, as the environmental assessments played out. Back then, funding didn't materialize for the billion-dollar capital investment, so the state sunk much smaller amounts of money into adding more daily trains. Once Federal funds became available for the big project, IL was first in line - especially since our former Senator and former Congressman were the men in DC behind the funding.

Indiana's come late to the planning party, and Mitch Daniels isn't ready to put the state's own money into rail. Consequently, Indiana gets the shaft, except for the projects in NW Indiana that affect the Detroit trains.
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Last edited by ardecila; Jan 24, 2012 at 2:15 AM.
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  #814  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2012, 4:36 PM
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Once Grand Crossing and Englewood flyovers are completed, that will open up a new, relatively conflict-free route for Chi-Indy trains and vastly improve their reliability.
Does anyone know where I can find information on the progress of the Englewood Flyover project? Grand Crossing has a good website (http://www.grandcrossingrail.com/index.html) but the last thing posted on the CREATE website on the Englewood project is the October groundbreaking announcement.
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  #815  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2012, 8:19 PM
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Iowa DOT to begin Chicago to Omaha study

Quad City Times link

The Iowa DOT is beginning the Federally funded study (1Mil from 1st ARRA grant) of the Chicago-Omaha passenger rail service. What is interesting is that the Iowa DOT is actually hosting an ONLINE public information session. I don't recall any government agencies that has held open house meeting online. This may be a wave of the future that would bypass some vocal minority POV groups from hijacking an agenda by packing a room. Instead the officials can gauge true-broad interest from some dispassionate voices. And make a more reasoned decision without the threatening, bullying tactics that have been in use lately.

Mark your calendars for Feb 13. see link....

http://www.iowadot.gov/chicagotoomaha/meetings.html
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  #816  
Old Posted Feb 7, 2012, 9:44 PM
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AMTRAK will start 110 mph service between Chicago and Detroit NEXT WEEK!

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CHICAGO and LANSING, Mich. – Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) have received federal approval to increase maximum speeds of Amtrak trains in western Michigan and northern Indiana to 110 mph following successful installation and testing of a positive train control safety system on Amtrak-owned track between Kalamazoo, Mich., and Porter, Ind.

Amtrak and MDOT will celebrate the faster service on Wednesday, February 15, with details to be announced.

“This is the first expansion of regional high speed rail outside the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman.
http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/BlobSe...event_date.pdf
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  #817  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2012, 12:32 AM
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That certainly is excellent news. Hopefully other corridors will follow suit, preferably something linking Chicago and Cleveland at the very least...

Should Cleveland see an increase in daily trains, will they build a new train station? That shack is a huge disappointment and an embarassment, and this is coming from a guy born and raised in Pittsburgh!!
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  #818  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2012, 2:51 AM
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Cool - first 110mph service in the Midwest!

The Portage-Kalamazoo segment looks to be about 1/3 of the entire line. Apparently the trains are already hitting 95mph in this segment, though, so the the speed upgrade will only shave 10 minutes. The dramatic change will come when the now state-owned segment from Kalamazoo to Dearborn is upped to 110mph from the current slow-ass 60mph.

We should also see 110mph service on the St. Louis line between Pontiac/Dwight by the end of the year.
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Last edited by ardecila; Feb 8, 2012 at 3:18 AM.
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  #819  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2012, 3:31 AM
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Does anyone know where I can find information on the progress of the Englewood Flyover project? Grand Crossing has a good website (http://www.grandcrossingrail.com/index.html) but the last thing posted on the CREATE website on the Englewood project is the October groundbreaking announcement.
Construction hasn't actually begun yet. Metra is just bidding the job right now.

Usually the ceremonial "groundbreaking" happens as soon as the funds are identified and the politicians have an opening in their schedule. However, actual start of construction might happen much later, because of design changes, slow approvals from stakeholder agencies, or hangups in the bidding process.
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  #820  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2012, 4:21 AM
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Awesome news about 110mph service!
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