Jump to content




Photo

Empire Builder


36 replies to this topic

#1 cav1865

cav1865

    Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 58 posts

Posted 05 March 2012 - 08:42 PM

Last year flooding in North Dakota created havoc for east and west bound Empire Builder. Much talk was EB taking Surrey Cut Off east of Minot down to Fargo rather than going east to Grand Forks. Does anyone have updates on this option for this year? Any updates on raising the rail bed at Churchs Ferry, ND, another trouble spot? I've checked Internet for updates, but haven't seen any.

#2 zephyr17

zephyr17

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Washington State

Posted 05 March 2012 - 09:10 PM

Last year flooding in North Dakota created havoc for east and west bound Empire Builder. Much talk was EB taking Surrey Cut Off east of Minot down to Fargo rather than going east to Grand Forks. Does anyone have updates on this option for this year? Any updates on raising the rail bed at Churchs Ferry, ND, another trouble spot? I've checked Internet for updates, but haven't seen any.

Supposedly BNSF, State of North Dakota and Amtrak came to an agreement to split the cost of raising the line for Devil's Lake three ways. Not sure where Amtrak is going to get its share, but the Builder is staying on the current line for now. I don't think BNSF really wants it on the Surrey Cutoff anyway...
SP Coast Daylight, AT&SF San Diegan, AT&SF Super Chief, D&RGW Rio Grande Zephyr, Southwest Limited/Chief, San Diegan/Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, Cascades, California/San Francisco Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited (LA-Orlando), Desert Wind, Pioneer, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited, Cardinal, Hoosier State, Ann Rutledge, Adirondack, Via Canadian (CP route), Via Super Continental, Via Atlantic Limited, Via Hudson Bay, Via Skeena, Via Canadian (CN route), BC Rail Cariboo Dayliner, Eurostar, Thalys, DB, Netherlands Rail, Austrian Railways, BR, Korail (conventional), KTX

#3 AlanB

AlanB

    Administrator

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 28,862 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Queens, New York

Posted 05 March 2012 - 10:13 PM


Last year flooding in North Dakota created havoc for east and west bound Empire Builder. Much talk was EB taking Surrey Cut Off east of Minot down to Fargo rather than going east to Grand Forks. Does anyone have updates on this option for this year? Any updates on raising the rail bed at Churchs Ferry, ND, another trouble spot? I've checked Internet for updates, but haven't seen any.


Supposedly BNSF, State of North Dakota and Amtrak came to an agreement to split the cost of raising the line for Devil's Lake three ways. Not sure where Amtrak is going to get its share, but the Builder is staying on the current line for now. I don't think BNSF really wants it on the Surrey Cutoff anyway...


Well once work starts on the Devil's Lake Sub to raise the tracks, Amtrak will have to use the Surrey Cutoff for several months at a minimum. The Devil's Lake sub will be totally out of commission while they lay new track along much of the sub, raise the sections prone to flooding along with a few bridges, and put in new signaling.

I've not seen any time table for when work might start, but if it is going to start this year, then I'd expect an announcement to be made within the next few weeks. They'll want to get started by May at the latest.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#4 George Harris

George Harris

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,069 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:now in California
  • Interests:Track, construction, schedules

Posted 06 March 2012 - 02:55 AM

I've not seen any time table for when work might start, but if it is going to start this year, then I'd expect an announcement to be made within the next few weeks. They'll want to get started by May at the latest.

And given that this is North Dakota we are talking about, it is unlikely that the work would start muche earlier.

#5 fairviewroad

fairviewroad

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,144 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 06 March 2012 - 02:19 PM

Well once work starts on the Devil's Lake Sub to raise the tracks, Amtrak will have to use the Surrey Cutoff for several months at a minimum. The Devil's Lake sub will be totally out of commission while they lay new track along much of the sub, raise the sections prone to flooding along with a few bridges, and put in new signaling.

I've not seen any time table for when work might start, but if it is going to start this year, then I'd expect an announcement to be made within the next few weeks. They'll want to get started by May at the latest.


Wow, didn't realize they'd have to bypass the Devil's Lake Sub entirely for this work. I'm booked to/from GFK in late June and early July and now this has me concerned. I figured there'd be delays...no biggie. But to reroute would skip my destination entirely. What a pain. It'd be nice if they would provide a bustitution for GFK pax but I suppose Amtrak will just tell me to use FAR instead and get from there to GFK on my own dime.

#6 Ispolkom

Ispolkom

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,942 posts
  • Location:St. Paul, Minn.

Posted 06 March 2012 - 05:56 PM

Has North Dakota come up with the remaining $20 million of its share for the Church's Ferry work?

#7 anir dendroica

anir dendroica

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 504 posts

Posted 06 March 2012 - 05:59 PM

They may or may not need to close the route for long periods. Last summer BNSF got pretty good at raising track while keeping it open, and they have already been working on the area near Devils Lake to some extent.

My guess is that Amtrak will keep bus service to Rugby, Devils Lake, and Grand Forks when the bypass is used, and that the Surrey bypass will only be needed for 1-2 months. But I could be wrong.

There shouldn't be much flooding in North Dakota this year as snowfall has been well below average. Devils Lake has gone down less than a foot since last summer but is not expected to rise much this spring.

Mark

#8 anir dendroica

anir dendroica

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 504 posts

Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:04 PM

The project is scheduled for three years, with Amtrak and BNSF to cover the full cost this year. Then there is a US DOT grant for $10 million, and possibly another $10 million in the ND state budget. If funds fall short, the jointed-rail replacement might get pushed back. IIRC the essential track raise portion of the project was "only" 72 million or so.

http://conrad.senate....cfm?id=336030

Has North Dakota come up with the remaining $20 million of its share for the Church's Ferry work?



#9 Tumbleweed

Tumbleweed

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 909 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sunny North Dakota
  • Interests:Rail travel, AU, photography, poetry, surfing internet,

Posted 06 March 2012 - 06:12 PM

Hmmm...I wonder if the EB will stop in New Rockford......
California Zephyr LNK-DEN(RT), DEN-GJT (RT), OMA-CHI(RT) 2/11, Capitol Limited CHI-WAS (RT) 2/11
Silver Meteor WAS-WPB (RT) 2/11, Empire builder FAR-CHI (RT) 3/12, CL CHI-WAS 4/12
SM WAS-WPB 4/12, SM WPB-NYP 4/12, LSL NYP-CHI 4/12, EB CHI-FAR 4/12, EB FAR-CHI 4/13, CL CHI-WAS 4/13
SM WAS-WPB 4/13, SM WPB-NYP 4/13, LSL NYP-CHI 4/13, EB CHI-FAR 4/13, SM WPB-NYP 2/14, LSL NYP-CHI 2/14
EB CHI-FAR 2/14, EB FAR-CHI 2/14, CZ CHI-DEN 2/14

Miles as of Feb 2014......23, 279', Future Plans....Coast Starlight and SW Chief

#10 Mackensen

Mackensen

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 395 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Lehigh Valley

Posted 07 March 2012 - 07:19 AM

Hmmm...I wonder if the EB will stop in New Rockford......


I don't think it has during other re-routes, even the planned ones. I remember vague talk last year about an eventual stop there if the re-route became permanent, but I haven't followed the progress there.

Routes traveled: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha Service, International Limited, Lake Cities, Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional, Pere Marquette, Southwest Chief, Twilight Limited, Vermonter, Wolverine. Total miles 41,649+


#11 Montanan

Montanan

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bozeman, Montana

Posted 07 March 2012 - 08:49 AM

Hmmm...I wonder if the EB will stop in New Rockford......

I'd really doubt it, since there's no depot or platform there anymore. Amtrak would require a platform for safety reasons, and the infrastructure costs would be substantial.

And as for the line through Devil's Lake, logically it seems that there'd have to be some extended closures during the reconstruction process, since to do otherwise would probably increase the costs. I haven't seen a detailed plan for the project, though. It would be interesting to know what they've got in mind.

(Based on the comment, you must be out near Aberdeen somewhere. :) )

#12 Tumbleweed

Tumbleweed

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 909 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Sunny North Dakota
  • Interests:Rail travel, AU, photography, poetry, surfing internet,

Posted 07 March 2012 - 08:56 AM


Hmmm...I wonder if the EB will stop in New Rockford......

I'd really doubt it, since there's no depot or platform there anymore. Amtrak would require a platform for safety reasons, and the infrastructure costs would be substantial.

And as for the line through Devil's Lake, logically it seems that there'd have to be some extended closures during the reconstruction process, since to do otherwise would probably increase the costs. I haven't seen a detailed plan for the project, though. It would be interesting to know what they've got in mind.

(Based on the comment, you must be out near Aberdeen somewhere. :) )


Yup, about another 100 miles South....
California Zephyr LNK-DEN(RT), DEN-GJT (RT), OMA-CHI(RT) 2/11, Capitol Limited CHI-WAS (RT) 2/11
Silver Meteor WAS-WPB (RT) 2/11, Empire builder FAR-CHI (RT) 3/12, CL CHI-WAS 4/12
SM WAS-WPB 4/12, SM WPB-NYP 4/12, LSL NYP-CHI 4/12, EB CHI-FAR 4/12, EB FAR-CHI 4/13, CL CHI-WAS 4/13
SM WAS-WPB 4/13, SM WPB-NYP 4/13, LSL NYP-CHI 4/13, EB CHI-FAR 4/13, SM WPB-NYP 2/14, LSL NYP-CHI 2/14
EB CHI-FAR 2/14, EB FAR-CHI 2/14, CZ CHI-DEN 2/14

Miles as of Feb 2014......23, 279', Future Plans....Coast Starlight and SW Chief

#13 Montanan

Montanan

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bozeman, Montana

Posted 07 March 2012 - 09:25 AM



Hmmm...I wonder if the EB will stop in New Rockford......

I'd really doubt it, since there's no depot or platform there anymore. Amtrak would require a platform for safety reasons, and the infrastructure costs would be substantial.

And as for the line through Devil's Lake, logically it seems that there'd have to be some extended closures during the reconstruction process, since to do otherwise would probably increase the costs. I haven't seen a detailed plan for the project, though. It would be interesting to know what they've got in mind.

(Based on the comment, you must be out near Aberdeen somewhere. :) )


Yup, about another 100 miles South....


I wrote a history of South Dakota's railroads under contract to the state a number of years ago, so I know that part of the world well ...

#14 afigg

afigg

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,496 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia

Posted 07 March 2012 - 10:29 AM

And as for the line through Devil's Lake, logically it seems that there'd have to be some extended closures during the reconstruction process, since to do otherwise would probably increase the costs. I haven't seen a detailed plan for the project, though. It would be interesting to know what they've got in mind.

Found a copy of the Amtrak and ND DOT Devil's Lake Railroad Grade Raise Planning and Feasibility Study report (12.5 MB PDF, 104 pages) at the ND DOT website. The cost of raising the tracks and 2 bridges from MP 91 to MP 106.4 is $75.5 million and is expected to take 6 to 7 months to complete. Lots of maps, hydrology charts, and drawings at the end of the report.

The project cost also includes replacing 55.5 miles of jointed rail. Quoting from the executive summary: "NDDOT has requested relay of rail outside the proposed track raise limits be included in this report. These limits account for approximately 55.5 miles of bolted rail along the Devils Lake Subdivision per BNSF. This rail relay is a requirement for AMTRAK operations. BNSF estimated the cost for replacing the existing rail with new rail relay is $28,900,000. The salvage value of the existing rail and other track materials to be removed within the 55.5 miles is approximately $7,010,000."

Appears that the EB could be diverted for up to 6 months while the work is getting done. If the work also replaces 55 miles of jointed rail with CWR, will this entire project allow faster speeds for the EB across the 55 mile segment? Or just for a smoother ride?

#15 Montanan

Montanan

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bozeman, Montana

Posted 07 March 2012 - 10:39 AM

Appears that the EB could be diverted for up to 6 months while the work is getting done. If the work also replaces 55 miles of jointed rail with CWR, will this entire project allow faster speeds for the EB across the 55 mile segment? Or just for a smoother ride?

I think at least much of that route already has a 79 mph maximum speed limit, and that wouldn't change after the upgrades. After the work is done, though, there will almost certainly be fewer "slow orders" (speed restrictions) on track areas impacted by flooding or in need of other maintenance. Getting rid of the slow orders could improve timekeeping, but I doubt the average speed will increase enough to actually allow for a schedule change.

#16 cav1865

cav1865

    Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 58 posts

Posted 07 March 2012 - 04:10 PM


Appears that the EB could be diverted for up to 6 months while the work is getting done. If the work also replaces 55 miles of jointed rail with CWR, will this entire project allow faster speeds for the EB across the 55 mile segment? Or just for a smoother ride?

I think at least much of that route already has a 79 mph maximum speed limit, and that wouldn't change after the upgrades. After the work is done, though, there will almost certainly be fewer "slow orders" (speed restrictions) on track areas impacted by flooding or in need of other maintenance. Getting rid of the slow orders could improve timekeeping, but I doubt the average speed will increase enough to actually allow for a schedule change.

The rails east of Minot to Grand Forks are the roughest on EB's route: EB always slows significantly on this section of track. I hope the rebuild uses CWR - continuously welded rail - to smooth the ride and speed the train.

#17 NomDePlume

NomDePlume

    Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 87 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Midwest

Posted 07 March 2012 - 10:49 PM

For those of us traveling on the EB this summer, what, if anything, does this mean realistically? I can't follow all the jargon, I haven't entirely caught on yet.

#18 Trogdor

Trogdor

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,028 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Here

Posted 07 March 2012 - 11:07 PM

Realistically, it means nothing, because thus far there hasn't been any actual talk of track work, and even if there was, it would detour the train overnight on a route that essentially takes the same amount of time. So, unless you were going to/from one of the few stops that were missed, you probably wouldn't even notice.
Posted Image

#19 fairviewroad

fairviewroad

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,144 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 08 March 2012 - 12:52 PM

So, unless you were going to/from one of the few stops that were missed, you probably wouldn't even notice.


...which is exactly the situation I'm in (see post #5).

According to Amtrak's ND fact sheet, an average of 76 passengers each day (combined) use the 3 stations that would be missed. My guess is that number is higher during the summer.

In the grand scheme of things that's miniscule compared to the EB as a whole. But skip that segment for a month and you're looking at more than 2200 passengers whose trips would be disrupted. (Or 1100 passengers whose trip would be disrupted in each direction.)

So every day that goes by that Amtrak fails to notify people like me who have already bought tickets (OK, I didn't buy, I redeemed AGR points for a roomette!) or fail to warn people who are in the process of buying tickets, it means that Amtrak will have that many more disgruntled people on their hands when they start notifying them that the train they bought a ticket for won't actually be going to their town.

I realize that Amtrak *probably* will post a service advisory as soon as they know more details, but then again communication with their customers isn't exactly their strong point.

Edited by fairviewroad, 08 March 2012 - 12:53 PM.


#20 AlanB

AlanB

    Administrator

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 28,862 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Queens, New York

Posted 08 March 2012 - 01:35 PM

Kind of hard for Amtrak to post any advisory if BNSF hasn't given Amtrak any time line.

We have no idea if BNSF even plans to start work on this project this year, we're assuming/hoping that they will get started. But BNSF may have already committed its track gangs to other major projects and may not start anything this year or perhaps may only do prep work that won't interfere much at all with the running of the EB.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!



Reply to this topic



  


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users