Digest: Temporary shutdown of Northstar commuter line a possibility

News Wire Digest second section for Oct. 16: Canadian Pacific gaining full ownership of Detroit tunnel; APTA decries funding restrictions stemming from 'anarchist' designation
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A Northstar commuter train departs Minneapolis in August 2020. A temporary shutdown of the line is among the possibilities as the Metropolitan Council considers its transit budget issues.
TRAINS: David Lassen

More Friday morning rail news:

Temporary shutdown of Northstar an option as Twin Cities council faces budget issues

A temporary shutdown of the Northstar commuter rail line between Minneapolis and Big Lake, Minn., could be a possibility as the Minneapolis-St. Paul area’s Metropolitan Council deals with budget pressures created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Met Council spokeswoman Terri Dresen said “all options are on the table” to deal with the budget issues, adding “while the short-term prognosis for Northstar is challenging, we feel the long-term prognosis is healthy.” As a result of the pandemic, Northstar service was cut from 72 to 20 trips weekly and weekend service was eliminated, and ridership plummeted from almost 57,000 in January to 1,158 in May. It remains at about 5% of pre-pandemic levels.

CP buys full ownership of Detroit rail tunnel
Canadian Pacific is purchasing full ownership the Detroit River Rail Tunnel, which runs between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, from OMERS Infrastructure Management for approximately $312 million. The railroad currently owns a 16.5% stake in the 1.6 mile-tunnel, which it operates. CP says the acquisition will reduce its operating costs for moves through the tunnel. “This is an important corridor for CP and by taking full ownership, we can better operate the asset to the benefit of our customers and the North American supply chain,” CP President and CEO Keith Creel said in a press release. “This strategic acquisition combined with our recent purchase of the [Central Maine & Quebec] will further integrate the eastern part of our network and create value for our shareholders.” OMERS became involved in ownership in 2001. The transaction is expected to close later this year and is subject to regularly approval and other closing conditions.

APTA says it 'strongly opposes' use of 'anarchist' designation to restrict funding
The American Public Transportation Association has issued a statement saying it “strongly opposes” the use of an “anarchist jurisdiction” designation to restrict some transit agencies from eligibility for a COVID-19 grant program by the Federal Transit Administration. “These funds are critical for transit systems as they undertake extraordinary efforts to safeguard riders and employees, while facing unprecedented budgetary woes,” Paul P. Skoutelas, APTA president and CEO, said in the statement. “It is inappropriate and unjustified that criteria would be considered to prohibit certain public transit systems from receiving critical funds to support their efforts to respond to COVID-19. Just as public transit systems provide equal access to all residents, federal grants should be available to all public transit providers.” The Federal Register’s notice on the grant program said cities designated as “anarchist juridictions” in a memorandum by President Donald Trump would not be eligible for the program [see “Digest: South Shore president expects little impact …,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 15, 2020].  A fact sheet from APTA on the situation is available here.

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