Twin Cities & Western Railroad (TC&W) rejected a proposal to relocate Minneapolis area freight rail service after reviewing a technical analysis prepared by a South Dakota engineering firm. The proposed relocation would move freight service from the Kenilworth Corridor to a St. Louis Park route to make way for the Metropolitan Council's Southwest light-rail project.
A freight rail service study, released Jan. 30, 2014, reviewed nine potential alternatives for freight rail location and eliminated seven of those based on established criteria such as cost, impacts and technical feasibility. The two viable options included running light-rail in shallow tunnels under the Kenilworth Corridor, allowing freight rail to continue to operate in the corridor and a second alternative, referred to as MNS North, which would relocate freight rail to the MNS North alignment and allow light-rail trains to run at grade through the Kenilworth Corridor.
TC&W President Mark Wegner said he received the report from Civil Design, Inc. (CDI), which highlighted a number of specific problems with the MNS North/St. Louis Park route recommended by independent consultant Transystems on January 30. The Transystems plan would reroute freight rail traffic through St. Louis Park on the MN&S rail line owned by Canadian Pacific.
“The operating conditions proposed by the Transystems alignment would be detrimental in every respect to current and future operating conditions for the TC&W,” the report concluded.
The report said that the proposed reroute does not meet mainline standards for Class 1 railroad construction as required by the length and weight of TC&W trains moving freight to and from Class 1 carriers; the installation of a centralized traffic control signal controlled by other railroads would force TC&W trains to wait on the track for access rights from the controlling railroads, causing costly and inefficient delays and the reroute includes three reverse curves and multiple undulating grades in less than one mile, unsafe elements that should be “avoided at all costs.”
The CDI report also says the route requires tracks to be built on bridges, creating higher maintenance and repair costs, but there is no agreement as to who would be responsible for those costs.
Wegner pointed to the Brunswick Central reroute option, which TC&W found acceptable from a safety perspective. That route, which skirts the St. Louis Park High School’s football field, was developed by the Metropolitan Council with the collaboration of Canadian Pacific and TC&W to meet Class 1 mainline safety and engineering standards.