Rising like, uh, Phoenix?

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danasgoodstuff

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I got this in an email from Amtrak, but don't see it on their site, or here. No time frame given.

New Stop Spotlight
Phoenix

  • Phoenix – America’s fifth largest city – is the largest city without any Amtrak service. It’s time to change that.

  • Amtrak is proposing 3 daily roundtrips to Tucson, with one of the trains continuing on to Los Angeles.
 

zephyr17

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They can do Phoenix-Tucson trains fairly easily as the UP line from Pichaco Junction to Phoenix is fully intact. They just need to rehab stations and negotiate with UP for access. And put some kind of maintenance base in Tucson.

Phoenix to LA is another story. The line was embargoed by SP back in 1990s and is in sorry shape. It pretty much has to be totally rebuilt. That and maintenance will all be on Amtrak's dime, since UP is clear they don't need it. The whole reason Amtrak rerouted to Maricopa is that SP said they'd have to be responsible for all maintenance costs since they'd be the only ones using the line.

I am not holding my breath for Phoenix to LA.
 

PVD

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Unless Phoenix to LA is the existing Sunset Limited, but going through Phoenix instead of skirting it to the South (Maricopa)
 

zephyr17

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Unless Phoenix to LA is the existing Sunset Limited, but going through Phoenix instead of skirting it to the South (Maricopa)
Still has the problem of a Phoenix West rebuild, irrespective of whether you call the trains using it the Sunset Limited or the Arizona Corridor.

There isn't usable track.
 

danasgoodstuff

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The Amtrak Connects US maps all show a gently curving connection to and from Phoenix, not just up and back from Tuscan. But that's the 2035 goal and they might do something else in the interim.
 

PVD

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Still has the problem of a Phoenix West rebuild, irrespective of whether you call the trains using it the Sunset Limited or the Arizona Corridor.

There isn't usable track.
Yes, that's why I figured if you were going to spend the (considerable) money to bring back Phoenix you might as well be talking all of the trains, both the new proposed corridor, as well s the existing National LD train.
 

zephyr17

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That is a nice line they have on a map. Easy to draw line on a map and doesn't cost much, pay a graphics artist and voila! A line!

There are tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars between that map line and an operable railroad.
 

zephyr17

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Yes, that's why I figured if you were going to spend the (considerable) money to bring back Phoenix you might as well be talking all of the trains, both the new proposed corridor, as well s the existing National LD train.
Agree. The only station served on the current routing is Maricopa. If Phoenix West is put back into service, all passenger service should use it. Serves the Phoenix Metro well (Phoenix itself, Mesa, Tempe), plus it would be largely free of freight interference.
 

Anderson

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I feel like 3x Phoenix-Tucson is rather...unambitious, if only because the net cost for a bells-and-whistles operation along the lines of Brightline would likely not be that much more. I know that they're dealing with "whatever the state rail plan popped out", but this is one of those self-evident cases for something rather more aggressive, if commuter-oriented (especially if you could pair it with a light rail connection to one or two stations in the Phoenix area (Tempe's old station is right by an existing LRT stop; Phoenix would either need a new station, an LRT extension, or both)).

I'm not critical of phased approaches per se, but doing a Johnny Cash Special here ("one piece at a time...") is likely to be far more expensive than either just buying the line or going for everything needed to expand service save a stray siding or two plus equipment up front.
 

danasgoodstuff

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Yeah, not a lot of detail in that email from Amtrak, to say the least. so who knows what the plan is exactly at this point.
 

MARC Rider

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I'm not critical of phased approaches per se, but doing a Johnny Cash Special here ("one piece at a time...") is likely to be far more expensive than either just buying the line or going for everything needed to expand service save a stray siding or two plus equipment up front.
Of course it's probably going to be more expensive, but it might be the only politically feasible way to get the the thing financed.
 

John Bredin

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I got this in an email from Amtrak, but don't see it on their site, or here. No time frame given.
Unless Phoenix to LA is the existing Sunset Limited, but going through Phoenix instead of skirting it to the South (Maricopa)
It's on the Amtrak website as part of Amtrak ConnectsUS Specifically, look at pages 37-41 here. While it's not the most detailed plan ever issued (and doesn't purport to be, it's a "vision"), it does answer some of these questions:
*Phoenix-Los Angeles would be a day train in addition to the Sunset Limited.
*Amtrak acknowledges it would have to negotiate with Union Pacific to restore tracks west of Phoenix, so clearly LA service is a more long-term goal after [Buckeye-]Phoenix-Tucson.
*While Amtrak doesn't include specific numbers in the vision document, the fact that it gives ranges for each project for new passengers, infrastructure cost per new passenger, and operating expenses per new passenger implies Amtrak has studies with numbers somewhere, possibly cribbed from existing state rail plans and other pre-existing sources.

So has Arizona come out and said they'll cover the operating costs? Will California pay for the train that continues to LA?
The projects that aren't already approved or being considered by a state (California, Vermont, etc.) or for the Northeast fall under the Corridor Development Plan, whereby with additional funding from Congress (knock on wood!) Amtrak would start service "on spec", hoping after a few years that the relevant state(s) will step up and fund service its citizens would have been using for a couple of years by then. It's touched on briefly on page 72 of the vision document linked above.

IMHO, the vagueness of the vision time-wise (lots of "where" and "how many trains", very little "when") arises because the corridor development plan depends on (1) how much Congress funds it, (2) how much capital is required for each project, and (3) how much host railroads cooperate. Since it seems like Amtrak's goal with this vision and the corridor development plan is to make itself more relevant in more places, I presume Amtrak will go for the low-hanging fruit (relatively little capital spending needed, cooperative hosts) first to get services running, and wants the flexibility to walk away from negotiations with an intransigent or greedy host and put its resources elsewhere.
 

Karl1459

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IMHO, a long distance link that might be very busy would be a Bakersfield - Barstow - Parker - Wickenburg - Phoenix - Tuscon. The big advantage is serving the San Joaquin valley to Phoenix where airline competition is not as great. Connect with SWC for LA at Barstow, and/or a bus link Mojave - Lancaster (Metro Link to LA). I have not seen where this route has been studied. Of course getting UP-BNSF to play Bakersfield - Mojave is a big hurdle.
 

Anderson

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Of course it's probably going to be more expensive, but it might be the only politically feasible way to get the the thing financed.
Well, it's more expensive up front...but if you could do the project for (say) $500m plus equipment now that's probably a lot cheaper than doing one deal for 3x/day and then another full round of negotiations and improvements each time you want to add one or two round-trips.
 

neroden

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Whether Arizona state government funds this is largely dependent on who gets elected there in 2022. The Republican Party of Arizona is currently trying to prevent people from voting because they don't think they can win honestly.

If they continue to control the state government, it is quite possible that Metro Phoenix and Metro Tucson will be willing to provide the funding themselves.

Rebuilding the Phoenix West line is, frankly, easy. Yes, it has to have the track and ties and ballast completely replaced, but the right-of-way and subroadbed is in good condition. Desert conditions preserve it pretty well. It's not like restoring the Scranton to New York City line, which has to be rebuilt below the roadbed, with bridge restorations.
 

Mailliw

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According to Forbes Amtrak is planning on using DMUs; which is odd because it would require a separate order from the Siemens Venture trainsets and would go against the fleet standardization goal.
 

jis

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According to Forbes Amtrak is planning on using DMUs; which is odd because it would require a separate order from the Siemens Venture trainsets and would go against the fleet standardization goal.
If Amtrak wants to get into the business of providing frequent service on relatively low density lines they will have to standardize on something other than 7 or 5 standard length car trains. There are several offerings available, some already in use in the US by other operators.
 

MikefromCrete

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Good point. So Stadler FLIRTs presumably?
Once again, we have an AU member boosting Stadler products. I've become very suspicious of this. I never see anybody suggesting the products of other manufacturers. If I starting writing posts pushing Amtrak or some commuter authority to buy Stadler products, would I get, shall we say, a little "gift" from Stadler?
 

jis

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Good point. So Stadler FLIRTs presumably?
Once again, we have an AU member boosting Stadler products. I've become very suspicious of this. I never see anybody suggesting the products of other manufacturers. If I starting writing posts pushing Amtrak or some commuter authority to buy Stadler products, would I get, shall we say, a little "gift" from Stadler?
LOL!

Yeah. I am at least marginally amused by the romance between AU members and Stadler. Given that Amtrak is dealing a lot with Siemens one would imagine that something like Siemens Desiro of which Siemens reportedly has a FRA compliant version in the works. Also Alstom (Coradia) and Bombardier (Talent) both have products in that space that are world class. So Stadler FLIRT is certainly not the only game in town, and if a tender were floated for such I am sure there would be a robust competition.
 

MikefromCrete

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Let's see. As far as I can determine, Stadler supplied DMU's for TEXrail and DCTA in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is building EMU's for CalTrain and is building 10 superdome cars for Rocky Mountaineer. Anything else? Only the CalTrain order could be considered a major purchase. So they're not exactly setting the North America market on fire.
Oh, there's also NJ Transit's RIVERline, but that's light rail.
 

chrsjrcj

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Let's see. As far as I can determine, Stadler supplied DMU's for TEXrail and DCTA in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is building EMU's for CalTrain and is building 10 superdome cars for Rocky Mountaineer. Anything else? Only the CalTrain order could be considered a major purchase. So they're not exactly setting the North America market on fire.
Oh, there's also NJ Transit's RIVERline, but that's light rail.
Austin, eBART, the new Cotton Belt Line in Dallas, and the new Arrow line in Redlands, California also use Stadler DMUs. The US DMU market isn’t exactly huge, but what’s there is mostly filled by Stadler.

The only exceptions I can think of still in revenue service are TriMet, Sprinter, and SMART.
 

MikefromCrete

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Austin, eBART, the new Cotton Belt Line in Dallas, and the new Arrow line in Redlands, California also use Stadler DMUs. The US DMU market isn’t exactly huge, but what’s there is mostly filled by Stadler.

The only exceptions I can think of still in revenue service are TriMet, Sprinter, and SMART.
OK, I didn't think Austin and eBART were commuter rail and frankly, I never heard of the Cotton Belt Line and the Redlands operation, so I guess Stadler does have a big part of a small market. Let' see if Amtrak's Tucson-Phoenix plans pan out and see whose interested in possibly building DMU's for that operation.
 
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