Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Orlando could conceivably be considered an extension to the Tampa system, but instead is presented as its own system, with a connection to Tampa's regional rail at Lakeville. In addition, it provides connections to four Amtrak stations, plus the airport (via a shuttle).


  • Lime Green: 61.6 miles, 26 stations
  • Maroon: 101 miles, 33 stations
  • Purple: 27.4 miles, 16 stations

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Minneapolis - St Paul

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul house the capitol building along with two-thirds of all Minneapolis residents in their metro area. A light rail line has connected Minneapolis with the airport since 2004, and a second linked the two downtowns a decade later. Minneapolis is also linked to its northwestern suburbs by the Northstar Commuter Rail. But for such a large city with fairly thorough existing rail property, more is possible.

South of the Savage / Port Cargill area, there's a right-of-way which is intact, but definitely lacking any hardware. If we're rebuilding anyway, I've decided to make that a feeder Bus Rapid Transit line, connecting Lakeville to a new transit center at Savage.


  • Northstar (Silver): 38.7 miles, 10 stations (including 2 new ones at added Holland and Beltrami Junction)
  • Pink: 23 miles, 14 stations
  • Red: 42.7 miles, 13 stations
  • Cyan: 52.6 miles, 23 stations
  • Yellow
    • Albertville - Hastings (peak periods only):  60 miles, 26 stations
    • Plymouth - St Paul: 25 miles, 15 stations
    • Brownwood - St Paul: 19 miles, 15 stations
  • Purple: 
    • Long Lake - White Bear Lake: 34.5 miles, 13 stations
    • Savage Junction - White Bear Lake: 37.3 miles, 15 stations
  • Orange:
    • Hamel - Shackopee: 55 miles, 24 stations
    • Hamel - Ford: 44 miles, 18 stations
  • Savage BRT: 11.4 miles, 11 stations
The existing Metro light rail is shown as the unnamed stations with thin green and blue lines.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


In Tennessee's capital, we've come across a city with an existing commuter rail system: the oft-maligned Music City Star. As I built my system out, it seemed that this existing route was laid through one of the less populated rail corridors available, which probably goes to show there's more to making a network than looking where there's existing train tracks.

The station spacing on the Music City Star to Lebanon is far wider than the 1 to 3 miles I typically use. This may be due to the sparser population to the east, or that this (and as we'll see with other upcoming cities with existing heavy rail) is more of a "park-and-ride" system, whereas mine are design to support/encourage walkable communities around the stations.

We now also have an idea as to what rolling stock might be used: a diesel locomotive with a couple of double-deck cars behind.

from Peepersk

This in fact is an incredibly popular decision, it turns out, for isolated commuter rail systems. The Nashville Star, Virginia Railway Express, New Mexico Rail Runner, Minneapolis Northstar, Dallas Trinity, Florida TriRail, Utah Frontrunner, and Seattle Sounder all have something similar. I've always been planning on using diesel, since I don't expect cities to install catenaries. But for the closer-spaced stations, I think DMUs (like Austin or Denmark) would work better.


  • Green: 62.4 miles, 26 stations
  • Purple: 23.4 miles, 13 stations
  • Red: 41.2 miles, 22 stations
  • Yellow: 22.7 miles, 11 stations
  • Music City Star: 31.1 miles, 6 stations

Friday, October 2, 2015


Virginia's capital has a metropolitan population of just over a million. It is well-served by Amtrak, but lacks any regional rail system; the Virginia Railway Express to Washington ends 60 miles to its north. This Dreamed-Of system provides connections to three Amtrak stations and even a walking-distance link to the airport.


  •  Orange: 20.7 miles, 13 stations
  • Purple: 29.9 miles, 17 stations
  • Yellow: 17.7 miles, 10 stations
  • Cyan: 19.7 miles, 11 stations
  • Green: 41.7 miles, 19 stations