TRAINS really blew it in quoting mileage in its Newswire article about measures being taken to keep the Empire Builder on its current route through Grand Forks rather than use the Surrey cutoff, which is the route for most BNSF freights between Fargo and Minot.
The article states, "The Builder traces a 277-mile arc from Fargo to Minot, N.D., over BNSF rails, a circuitous route compared to what BNSF's freight trains use at 195 miles. However, the longer route enables the builder to serve Grand Forks, Devils Lake, and Rugby, N.D., while the freight route misses major population centers. "
This would mean that the route through Grand Forks is a whopping 82 miles further. This is incorrect.
In its Official Guide enteries, Great Northern showed mileage from Fargo to Minot as 233 miles via New Rockford and 286 miles via Grand Forks, or a difference of 53 miles. This evidently took into account that GN passenger trains (and Amtrak until the mid-80s) after making their passenger stop at Grand Forks backed up about 3 miles to a junction west of town before continuing their journeys. Since then, Amtrak built a new stop for Grand Forks at the wye/junction which eliminated the backup move, or about 6 miles total. Therefore, the current route is about 280 miles.
The actual mileage from the ex-NP depot in Fargo (on the route most of the BNSF transcontinental trains use) to Minot is 236 miles. This is a bit longer than the 233 miles indicated in the GN Official Guide entry because the direct ex-GN route west from Fargo is more direct than the current freight train route, which is the ex-NP route to west of Casselton, and then going Northwest to Nolan to join the original GN passenger route. In any event, the actual difference in mileage now is only 44 miles (280 vs. 236) instead of 53 miles in GN days and nearly half the 82 miles erroneously stated by the TRAINS Newswire.
VerMontanan Since then, Amtrak built a new stop for Grand Forks at the wye/junction which eliminated the backup move, or about 6 miles total. Therefore, the current route is about 280 miles.
The 2010 winter AMTRAK timetable on page 68 lists fargo at mile 662 and minot at 940 a difference of 288 miles and maybe that is where news wire got its 288 figures. Does this mean that the mileage in the timetable is incorrect??