CP/DME Track/Infastructure Improvements

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CP/DME Track/Infastructure Improvements
Posted by wyldmanr8cer on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 12:49 AM

I believe this topic has been posted before but I could not find the thread. Does anyone know what if any improvements the CP has made to DME track in South Dakota and Minnesota such as welded rail, grade crossing, etc.? I know the CP had said they were committing $300 million to the DME's infrastructure but I haven't heard anything as far what has been done and I haven't had the opportunity to rail fan in SD since the CP purchase. Is there even any 40 mph welded rail in SD or is it all 10mph junk? Thanks for everyone's responses!!!!

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Posted by Boyd on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 1:01 AM

I traveled along the tracks going west from Winona up and out of the valley. I think it was Stockton where there was a lot of rail laid along the tracks. I couldn't tell if it was CWR or not.

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Posted by jrbernier on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 8:04 AM

  Over the past 5 years, a lot of CWR has been laid.  Rochester got CWR over a year ago, and around Sleepy Eye CWR and new turnouts have been laid.  It seems one sees the red R J Corman track equipment along the line every summer.  The speed limit through Rochester is now 35-40 mph.  Most of the track looks quite good.

Jim

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Posted by gopherstate on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 8:23 AM

Most of the rail from Pierre SD east has been relaid in recent years with CWR, but it was done by the DME before the CP purchase.  Money came from the state of South Dakota and the Federal government.  Before I left the company in 2002 they purchased ads in local newpapers warning citizens about track speed increases (to 40 MPH) between Pierre and Huron.  They have been steadily replacing rail eastward since then.

Matt

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Posted by Boyd on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 10:37 AM

Boyd

I traveled along the tracks going west from Winona up and out of the valley. I think it was Stockton where there was a lot of rail laid along the tracks. I couldn't tell if it was CWR or not.

I forgot to say that was late March.

Modeling the "Fargo Area Rapid Transit" in O scale 3 rail.

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Posted by CNW 6000 on Thursday, April 28, 2011 5:27 AM

Presumably the PRB project is still on hold, right?

Dan

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Posted by Mr. Railman on Thursday, April 28, 2011 7:04 AM

If it wasn't for CP, the project probably would be underway by now

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Posted by jrbernier on Thursday, April 28, 2011 9:00 AM

Mr. Railman

If it wasn't for CP, the project probably would be underway by now

  I suspect the 'project' would be on hold if it was still just DM&E - the coal traffic is not heavy enough to the upper Midwest, and DM&E had no financing for it before the CP purchase of DM&E.  CP would have to pay the original DM&E investors something like another $300 million if CP would start the extension in the near future.  I suspect CP will just let that clause expire so they do not have to pay it.  The DM&E has been doing regular 'upgrades' of the physical plant before the CP purchase.  DM&E revenue had been grain and wood chips for the most part.   The ethanol production traffic has given them a large new revenue source and has helped finance the track improvements.

Jim

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Posted by ButchKnouse on Saturday, May 7, 2011 6:24 PM

wyldmanr8cer

I believe this topic has been posted before but I could not find the thread. Does anyone know what if any improvements the CP has made to DME track in South Dakota and Minnesota such as welded rail, grade crossing, etc.? I know the CP had said they were committing $300 million to the DME's infrastructure but I haven't heard anything as far what has been done and I haven't had the opportunity to rail fan in SD since the CP purchase. Is there even any 40 mph welded rail in SD or is it all 10mph junk? Thanks for everyone's responses!!!!

With the exception of the first 15 miles east of Huron, the DM&E is CWR from Pierre to Springfield, Minnesota. They do run 40 when necessary, but business has been slow, so they've been running 25. (I live in Lake Preston, SD, 100 yards from the tracks.)

The 15 mile stretch east of Huron must be junk. I swear they run that at 5-10 MPH. The last year before CP took over DM&E, there were 3 derailments on that stretch, and the day the deal was done the speeds dropped. Hopefully they'll fix it this year. It's not like it runs through a swamp or anything.

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Posted by wyldmanr8cer on Saturday, May 7, 2011 10:44 PM

That's very interesting. You would think they would want to run 40 mph to improve velocity. And of course there's also the fuel consumption to keep in mind. When you run 40 mph you can use the built-up momentum to throttle down where as when you run 25 mph you have to constantly go in and out of notches to maintain speed. I'm an engineer for UP in Cheyenne, WY and they ram the fuel conservation down are throats. Do you know if the DM&E has the 25 mph restriction in just your area or do they have that enforced across the whole system? I guess to really find out the situation on track speed I should try and talk to someone within the DM&E!

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Posted by ButchKnouse on Saturday, May 7, 2011 11:19 PM

They run 40 west of Huron, at least in the summer. (I don't get out there in the winter.) Right now, the ground is so wet, that might be the reason for running at 25 MPH through here right now. I have seen trains blow through at 40 in the past. (I've lived here for 2 years).

About 3 miles east of here, there's a lake that's only 1 foot from touching the rails.

As far as throttling up and down, this land is as flat as a pool table. And the tracks have few serious curves.

 

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Posted by wyldmanr8cer on Saturday, May 7, 2011 11:33 PM

Ive never really seen any DM&E action East of Huron, what lake are you referring to? From what Ive read the ethanol business has really taken off for them. Do you see any unit ethanol trains roll past your house? I'm curious as to what their safety record is now, I know before the CP took over they were the worst in the nation but Ive heard the CP revamped they're safety program.

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Posted by ButchKnouse on Sunday, May 8, 2011 12:01 AM

The biggest safety problem was the condition of the tracks. The lake is called Lake Preston, and it's about 7 miles long and a mile wide in places, but normally only 6 feet deep. We've had four very wet years in a row and there are lakes overflowing all over this area. In the 1980s this lake got to the tracks, so they had to raise them. I don't now how high they had to raise them, I wasn't living here then.

The ethanol plant is in Aurora, 40 miles east of me. I assume the trains go east, as I've never seen one.

There is also a soybean plant in Volga. It's DM&E's 2nd largest customer, behind South Dakota Wheat Growers. Hopper cars full of meal and tanks full of oil go through all the time. They are dropped in Wolsey, where the BNSF takes them up to Aberdeen, and then onto the West Coast.

As far as the coal line expansion, that won't happen while the current president is in the White House. He's too anti-coal, and why spend a billion dollars on something unless you can use it?

If the coal line comes to pass, they're going to build a 28 track 1/4 mile wide 5 mile long yard west of Huron. They've already purchased the land and closed some gravel roads.

There is a yard IN Huron now, but there's no way to expand it. According to someone else's post on this board, Huron has one of only about a half dozen roundhouses that are still being used as roundhouses.

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Posted by Andy Cummings on Monday, May 9, 2011 12:52 PM

To clarify a bit, working from memory:

There's still stick rail from Winona to around Eyota, Janesville to Mankato, Revere to Tracy, the aforementioned stretch east of Huron, and Fort Pierre-Wasta. More or less, the rest is ribbon rail.

The Powder River coal deal is essentially on ice. CP inherited DM&E's permits to build it. Since CP took over, they've been pretty consistent in their position. They say right now, they are not pursuing it. If business conditions change in the future, they would revisit that decision. Environmental politics certainly figure into the business conditions, though the story does not begin and end there.

Primary customers on the "old" DM&E line (Winona-Rapid City-Black Hills) are grain and clay customers. However, ethanol is a growing concern on the line, with three large ethanol plants (Janesville, Minn.; Lamberton, Minn.; and Aurora, S.D.) now online.

This is a line that's undergone a total transformation over the past 15 years. Until 1996, there were no significant stretches of ribbon. It was all stick rail, 30 and 25 mph, with lots of 10 mph restrictions. In ’96, the state of South Dakota loaned DM&E the money to replace Wolsey-Pierre with ribbon, as the track condition was so abysmal it was nearing shutdown by FRA. DM&E got federal loans starting in 2004 that enabled them to lay significant stretches of ribbon each year since. CP has continued that practice, leading to the situation now, where the majority of the main line is ribbon.

If you want a taste of the DM&E I grew up with, you have to go west. The Fort Pierre-Wasta segment is still all 10 mph stick rail. Plans were that if the coal project got built, that whole stretch would be moved onto a new alignment parallel to the current one. They'd haul in clean fill from other places. The geology underlying that stretch, known as the Pierre Shale, turns to slurry when it gets wet.

Andy Cummings Associate Editor TRAINS Magazine Waukesha, Wis.
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Posted by beaulieu on Monday, May 9, 2011 5:21 PM

Ribbon Rail has been dropped from Minnesota City to west of Stockton, I am not sure how far.

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Posted by wyldmanr8cer on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 2:07 AM

Andy, didn't you right a book on the DM&E a few years back? Ive been looking online and at the local book store but no one seems to have it in stock. That's very interesting what everyone has posted it seems that a lot of money has been put into the overall infrastructure. They'll definitely have to make sure everything is up to par if they do build into the powder river basin.

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Posted by Andy Cummings on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 11:36 AM

wyldmanr8cer

Andy, didn't you right a book on the DM&E a few years back? Ive been looking online and at the local book store but no one seems to have it in stock. That's very interesting what everyone has posted it seems that a lot of money has been put into the overall infrastructure. They'll definitely have to make sure everything is up to par if they do build into the powder river basin.

I co-authored the book in question. Shoot me an email at acummings@trains.com, and I'll put you in touch with someone who has copies available.

Andy Cummings Associate Editor TRAINS Magazine Waukesha, Wis.

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