I used to go to Phoenix regularly on business, and have been in the area a few times on vacation (most recently in the summer of 2019, LSL->TE->SL->Tucson, drove over a very circuitous route spending several days in Phoenix, to Las Vegas, NV, Thruway->Kingman->SWC->CL->NEC->home. ) So I'm vaguely familiar with the area, but am confused by the plan.
Is the idea of for the Phoenix train to split off from the east bound SL at Maricopa and continue north to Phoenix, and in the other direction, join the west bound SL in Maricopa and continue on to LA, or is the idea to split off the west bound SL/TE at Maricopa, continuing to Phoenix, and the other way, to join the east bound SL/TE in Maricopa? Or two have the SL split/join in both directions, so effectively TWO Phoenix<->Maricopa round trips every day, one connecting with the east bound SL and the other with the west bound SL?
I know there is commuter rail in Phoenix, but I'm completely unfamiliar with the routes or schedules. Does it reach as far as Maricopa? Would a commuter rail connection work, at least initially to boost local interest and ridership enough to justify a separate section of the SL, or even a completely separate LA or Chicago or New Orleans train specifically destined for Phoenix?
As I understand it, the tracks west of Phoenix don't exist any more, but the ROW is still there. Is this correct? Would the local Phoenix area commuter rail be interested in resurrecting the ROW, which Amtrak could then share, either for re-routing the SL or for a direct LA<->Phoenix train? (From the prior discussion, I understand the route via Phoenix formerly used by the SL was much slower than the current route, but I don't know if this is because it was longer or because the tracks were limited to very low speeds. Generally, if the later, that could be fixed and would have to be fixed if the track no longer exists. I believe it is MUCH cheaper to upgrade an existing track with new roadbed, ties and welded, heavier rail than to construct a brand new ROW, even through an uninhabited desert where land is dirt cheap.