Monday, January 07, 2013

Short line opposes Twin Cities LRT plan

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Glencoe, Minn.-based Twin Cities and Western Railroad has voiced opposition to a proposed light rail operation serving the southwestern suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The preferred route identified by Hennepin County would require the short line to reroute existing freight traffic to rights-of-way with a steeper grade and additional curves, in and around St. Louis Park, Minn. St. Louis Park is one of the communities to be served by the Southwest Corridor LRT line, linking Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, Minn.

Twin Cities and Western serves rural agricultural markets in Minnesota and South Dakota, and owns at least 146 route-miles of track outright.

A consulting engineer for the short line told local media "having an elevated grade in a curve has safety implications for the railroad workers and the general public," including the increased likelihood of derailments.

A spokeswoman for Metro Transit says Met Council and Metro Transit will address concerns stated as part of the preliminary engineering phase the project is now undertaking.

Railway Age named the Twin Cities and Western Railroad its 2008 Short Line Railroad of the Year. The railroad in the past has said it was willing to host commuter rail service. But federal safety regulations inhibit the ability of LRT and freight trains to occupy the same right-of-way without temporal separation or other measures.