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With a new administration in D.C., it's time to think outside of the box because passenger rail's survival just may depend on it

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SPUD and Unconventional Passenger Service

A couple of summers ago, Mike "Mulad" Hicks brought up the possibility of specialty passenger rail at the historic St. Paul Union Depot. Quite frankly, I agree with him because even with a second Empire Builder frequency between Chicago and St. Cloud, the planned Regional HSR route between Chicago and St. Paul, and Zip Rail, the facility could still use more passenger trains in the future. 

This picture shows that multiple platforms could be built to support other types of rail. I will now look at the various ways unconventional passenger rail could serve SPUD and the Midwest:

  • Auto Train: This could be a terminus for passengers who want to take their cars to places like Wisconsin Dells and other tourist destinations, or it could be a stop where passengers can load and unload their cars and board without being required to have a car. An example would be South Dakota with Badlands National Forest and Black Hills National Park. The route would start at O'Hare and then serve a limited number of stops along the way before reaching SPUD. Afterwards, the train would head southwest towards Mankato, then head west to SD, where it would end in Rapid City near those aforementioned tourist destinations.

  • International Service: Winnipeg service would actually start at the Oglivie Transportation Center and serve Eau Clare along the C&NW route. Meanwhile, future service to Alberta would actually start at SPUD as another way of connecting passengers of the U.S. and Canada.

  • Special Themes: These trains would primarily traverse parts of the Midwest that have not seen passenger rail service since the '60s or '70s. 

  • Cruise & Cruise Fun Trains: Due to proximity issues, neither one met the standard for service at SPUD.

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