Thinking outside the Right-of-Way

There has been recent controversy about the Southwest LRT and its recent costs. (See Twin Cities Business for a nice write-up). I suggested in the comments that it might be cheaper to buy the Twin Cities and Western Railway company (presumably take the track rights, settle this controversy and then sell off the rest) than pay to accommodate them. But I have no idea what it is worth. I do have an estimate of its size, in terms of number of employees from their website.

We do have data on much larger public railways. I estimated the ratio of market value to number of employees, and then took the average ratio and multiplied it by the number of TC&W employees. (This is the market value each employee adds, and is loosely correlated with market value in mature industries, there are better more complicated estimates, but this is a blog post).

This gives a number just about $100M, which sounds ballpark. (I suspect it is too high, since there should be economies of scale in the larger Railroads) This is cheaper than some of the estimates for accommodating it. The long-term cost to the public would be less than this, since the parts that were not needed could be sold off.

Planners and public officials need to think outside the Right-of-Way (Box).

Railroad Number of Employees Market Value Ratio
CSX 32000  23,700,000,000 740625
UP 46787  74,170,000,000 1585269
NSC 30943  42,120,000,000 1361213
CP 15112  26,620,000,000 1761514
Twin Cities and Western RR 80  108,972,420  ESTIMATED

A second comment I had was about sharing track rights. There should be some way for the LRT and the freight railway to share tracks, given how few freight trains run per day and how slow they are. People say FRA won’t allow it. I am sure they won’t. On the other hand, this is what politicians are for, to grant exemptions. And for well less than $100 million, I am sure someone can be persuaded to grant an exemption.

How much did the lobbying for the St. Croix River Crossing cost?