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Date: 04/11/11 10:17
Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: GenePoon

From the upper Midwest, we’re hearing that Amtrak has now agreed to a permanent reroute of the
Empire Builder to the KO Sub (the “Surrey Cutoff” via New Rockford) due to rising waters in Devil’s Lake.

This is independent of the current suspension of the Empire Builder west of St. Paul due to high waters
in the Red River basin.

-GP



Date: 04/11/11 11:23
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: railcity

Great News to the reroute of the Builder to the KO Line, since Amtrak doesn't have 100 Million to fix the problem you move where are the trains are.



Date: 04/11/11 12:29
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: Cumbresfan

Expected that given they said they would reroute it if water rose to 1,453.00 feet on the USGS gauge. This morning I reported it at 1,452.08 feet and it has risen another 0.03 feet to 1,452.11 since then (unless the 14 mph wind is bringing it up).

http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?4,2439239



Date: 04/11/11 13:26
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: Cumbresfan

Found this story with a little searching (excerpted):

New Rockford may be in line for a stop by Amtrak's Empire Builder

Reprinted from The New Rockford Transcript--February 15, 2010

The familiar sight and sound of an Amtrak passenger train stopping daily at the Geographical Center could be a thing of
the past.

The days of Amtrak service to Rugby may be numbered as there is a real possibility the national rail service will be
forced to move its Empire Builder route from Burlington Northern-Santa Fe's (BNSF's) current north line to BNSF's KO
Subdivision, more commonly referred to as the Surrey Cutoff. This line runs through New Rockford on its way from Minot
to Fargo in North Dakota.

If that happens, Amtrak will bypass Rugby, Devils Lake and Grand Forks, ending passenger rail service which has been
in place since 1972 to those communities.

There appears to be no viable long term option to keep Amtrak service on the current rail line owned and maintained by
BNSF due to the need for significant repairs to a section of track in the Devils Lake basin.

"It's a very serious situation,' said Rugby Mayor Dale Niewoehner, who has been a longtime advocate of passenger rail
service for the community. "Our three members of Congress are doing what they can and I've been in contact with Ray
Lang, of Amtrak, relaying our concerns about the possible change."

Continued rising waters near Churchs Ferry threatens the stability of a section of BNSF's railroad track. There is currently
only four inches between water and the bottom of one of the railroad bridges near Churchs Ferry, according to BNSF.
The railroad no longer runs freight on the 19-mile stretch of the rail line between Devils Lake and Churchs Ferry, opting
to shuttle its trains along its other line, the Surrey Cutoff. Amtrak is currently the only regular service on the rail line.
One cost estimate to raise one bridge and sections of an embankment that currently are partly submerged by rising
Devils Lake waters is about $100 million, about $55 milllion to raise the bridges and embankments and another $45
million over the next five to 10 years to replace the track.

BNSF has indicated it is not going to fund the repairs, and it would be up to public appropriations to cover those costs.
BNSF has agreed to reroute Amtrak along the Surrey Cutoff.

Earlier in January North Dakota's Congressional delegation met with Amtrak and BNSF representatives to discuss the
concerns with that section of track and the possibility of rerouting Amtrak service.

Whether public funds can be appropriated for the needed repairs remains to be seen. For now, an agreement was
reached to continue to operate Amtrak on BNSF's northern line.

Rising Devils Lake waters have caused problems with BNSF's track before. In 2001, bridges were raised to enable train
service to continue.

However, further raising of bridges would also require raising the embankments, increasing the costs significantly.


http://eddycountynd.com/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=55



Date: 04/11/11 14:53
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: ChS7-321

railcity Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Great News to the reroute of the Builder to the KO
> Line, since Amtrak doesn't have 100 Million to fix
> the problem you move where are the trains are.

And how is this "Great News"? Not that it's not a logical thing to do in this case, but why are you so happy about it?



Date: 04/11/11 15:03
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: tylset

Won't this make the trip shorter, thereby causing earlier arrivals in Seattle, Portland, and Chicago?



Date: 04/11/11 15:16
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: P

So how much rail mileage is on the soon to be abandoned line? The article references 19 miles, but I find it hard to believe that there are 3 station stops in 19 miles in North Dakota.



Date: 04/11/11 15:22
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: SOO6617

Its a little shorter, but the tradeoff is more freight congestion. The Builder "owns" the track west of Grand Forks.



Date: 04/11/11 15:24
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: SOO6617

P Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> So how much rail mileage is on the soon to be
> abandoned line? The article references 19 miles,
> but I find it hard to believe that there are 3
> station stops in 19 miles in North Dakota.

As needed freight service will continue on all but the 19 mile segment. A through line will become two dead-end branches.



Date: 04/11/11 15:41
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: Daze

tylset Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Won't this make the trip shorter, thereby causing
> earlier arrivals in Seattle, Portland, and
> Chicago?

Now that the water has risen, this is the real question.

How will Amtrak adjust the times because of the reroute? How much, if any, will the schedule be reduced because of operating via New Rockford? Will the train leave Chicago at the same time, adding more Rocky Mountains in daylight, and having an earlier arrival in Seattle, eliminating Cascade and Columbia scenery by daylight and probably breakfast in the diner into Seattle? OR, will the train leave Chicago later, improving eastern connections, having worse times at MSP, and having the same schedule from Minot west? Same questions apply eastbound. And, how much time will BNSF really allow the schedule to be reduced? It may not be significant. Daze



Date: 04/11/11 15:48
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: Ptolemy

Daze Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> tylset Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
>
> How will Amtrak adjust the times because of the
> reroute? How much, if any, will the schedule be
> reduced because of operating via New Rockford?
>

When I took #8 on the KO line a couple of years ago it took the same time as via Grand Forks.



Date: 04/11/11 16:47
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: joemvcnj

Wonder if New Rockford will get staffed, or with GFK's current staff ?
How will the feeder buses be restructured ?

I always liked coming around that sharp cure at Grand Forks station at sun-up at 5am, waking up for the day, and enjoying the anticipation of spending the day heading across North Dakota and Montana.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/11/11 16:48 by joemvcnj.



Date: 04/11/11 17:08
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: CP8888

It is very bad news for passengers in Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Rugby.
If bus offered - costly to Amtrak and a pain to passengers.
Unlikely the schedule will improve much if at all via the cut-off.

This will be permanent. If lake level falls no return to previous as
BNSF will take up some track to make sure.

Bus operation on US 2 during fierce winter months questionable.
North Dakota takes it on the chin again.



Date: 04/11/11 17:51
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: MEKoch

It is 285 miles via Grand Forks vs. 233 miles via New Rockford. In 1957 the EB made the 233 miles in 3:30. About 5:10 via GFK. Yes, there is time to be saved.



Date: 04/11/11 19:09
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: SOO6617

MEKoch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It is 285 miles via Grand Forks vs. 233 miles via
> New Rockford. In 1957 the EB made the 233 miles
> in 3:30. About 5:10 via GFK. Yes, there is time
> to be saved.


The 1957 route out of Fargo was shorter than the 2011 route will be by a few miles as the Builder turned NW at KO Jct. while the current train will continue west on the former NP to Surrey Jct., and the train that operated via Grand Forks was the secondary train the Western Star not the Empire Builder. Most of the time saved will be due to the elimination of the Grand Forks stop.



Date: 04/11/11 19:38
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: P

In a recent year, these 3 stops accounted for about 32,000 Amtrak riders. That's a significant number of passengers.



Date: 04/11/11 20:13
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: abyler

P Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In a recent year, these 3 stops accounted for
> about 32,000 Amtrak riders. That's a significant
> number of passengers.

In FY2010 they accounted for 32,000 boardings + alightings, up from 23,000 in FY2003. The Empire Builder had 1,067,000 boardings and alightings. So Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Rugby were an origin or destination 3% of all rides on the Empire Builder, which is a drop in the bucket. Lets not exaggerate their significance. When we add in new riders at New Rockford, and any ridership induced by the shorter schedule and improved timings elsewhere, the reroute will probably end up being a net plus to Amtrak, although obviously bad for Grand Forks.

This is hardly like the situation on the Southwest Chief's troubled line, where Hutchinson to Albuquerque accounts for 138,000 boardings and alightings out of 684,000 boardings and alightings on the train, or about 19% of the train's ridership. Losing that line would be a real cause for concern. If there is $50-100 million to be dropped on a western long distance line, ties, surfacing, and spot rail replacement would do far more good on the old Santa Fe.



Date: 04/11/11 20:45
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: ProAmtrak

ChS7-321 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> railcity Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Great News to the reroute of the Builder to the
> KO
> > Line, since Amtrak doesn't have 100 Million to
> fix
> > the problem you move where are the trains are.
>
> And how is this "Great News"? Not that it's not a
> logical thing to do in this case, but why are you
> so happy about it?


I'm with you on that, becuase that lake is the main reason Amtrak had no choice on the matter! Railcity, you're really really somethin' else when it comes to Amtrak's decisions!



Date: 04/11/11 22:08
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: railcity

ProAmtrak Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ChS7-321 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > railcity Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > Great News to the reroute of the Builder to
> the
> > KO
> > > Line, since Amtrak doesn't have 100 Million
> to
> > fix
> > > the problem you move where are the trains
> are.
> >
> > And how is this "Great News"? Not that it's not
> a
> > logical thing to do in this case, but why are
> you
> > so happy about it?
>
>
> I'm with you on that, becuase that lake is the
> main reason Amtrak had no choice on the matter!
> Railcity, you're really really somethin' else when
> it comes to Amtrak's decisions!

Now,ProAmtrak Amtrak doesn't have 100 Million to spend on a line with just 2 Amtrak trains running on it, you go where all the trains are that the KO line. That good news at least 7&8 have route to go on?



Date: 04/11/11 23:50
Re: Amtrak agrees to Empire Builder reroute
Author: poffcapt

Looks like the 3 stops that would be dropped are about the only 3 places worth stopping in northern ND, except for Minot.



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