Digest: New study offers options, cost for Northstar extension to St. Cloud

News Wire Digest for Aug. 11: UP's Tempe bridge could reopen Friday; MTA asks Apple to address iPhone Face ID issue
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Northstar commuter trains await departure from the Target Field station in Minneapolis on Aug. 4, 2020. A new study offers options and costs for extension of Northstar service to St. Cloud, Minn.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Tuesday morning rail news:

Study says extension of Twin Cities' commuter rail service to St. Cloud could cost $36 million to $257 million

A new feasibility study says it could cost anywhere from $36 million to $257 million to extend the Twin Cities’ Northstar commuter rail service from its current northern terminus in Big Lake to St. Cloud, long envisioned as its actual northern endpoint. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the range of estimates reflects four possible levels of service:

— $36 million to $139 million for one St. Cloud-Minneapolis round trip daily;
— $96 million to $207 million for four daily round trips also serving intermediate stops
— $141 million to $190 million for four daily express round trips;
— $188 million to $257 million for nine daily trips between the cities, including one late-evening trip to St. Cloud.

The current service and potential 28-mile extension use BNSF Railway right-of-way, so the freight railroad would be part of any extension efforts. The newspaper says BNSF declined to comment on the study.

UP bridge repair in Tempe could be complete by Friday
Union Pacific service to Phoenix could be restored as early as Friday, the Arizona Republic reports. The railroad is using prefabricated concrete and steel structures to replace a 450-foot section of the bridge over Tempe Town Lake that collapsed after a derailment and fire last month [see “UP hit by derailment, fire, partial bridge collapse …,” Trains News Wire, July 29, 2020]. An inspection has found the remaining portions of the 1912 bridge are structurally sound, UP project manager Peggy Ygbuhay hold a hearing on Monday. The railroad is awaiting approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission to replace a 133-foot section of the bridge that crosses over a roadway; a judge will rule on the railroad’s request Tuesday and the commission will vote on Wednesday.

MTA asks Apple to address iPhone issue so transit users can keep masks on
The head of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is urging Apple to modify facial-recognition technology on its iPhones so transit users can unlock their phones while wearing face coverings. In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, MTA CEO Patrick J. Foye noted that Apple has made some modifications so a passcode option appears more rapidly when Apple’s Face ID system does not work, and is working to address the issue, Foye asks that Apple “take these efforts a step further” to find “a solution that works for everyone.”



The Genesee & Wyoming 

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