Arizona Rail Progress Report September 20th, 1993
Based on an interview with Sam Morse
August 18th saw the release of the Interim Progress Report of the Joint Legislative Committee on Rail Transportation. Kimley-Horn & Associates made the presentation at the House Office Building, in association with Gannett Fleming Inc., LTK Engineering Services, and NuStats, Inc.
This interim report provides the findings as to the existing conditions on the rail lines to be used, including the branches from Nogales and Benson to Tucson; from Phoenix to Wickenburg and Flagstaff; and from Phoenix to Yuma.
Of the trackage on the proposed system, all received a FAIR rating except the Tempe-Ahwatukee segment which would probably require complete rebuilding. It was thus suggested that the Ahwatukee branch be phased in at a later date. The best conditions were on the SP mainline from Casa Grande to Tucson, though this segment would require the most coordination, as it currently sees around 40 freight trains daily.
Ridership surveys indicated especially strong interest in the Tucson to Nogales market. Telephone surveys were taken in the Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales, and several other metro areas.
As for costs, the metro areas would require about $4 to $5 million per mile, including equipment, signaling, rail, and other upgrades; rural miles (such as between Phoenix and Tucson) would run about $1 to $2 million per mile. However, not all of these expenses would be required for system startup. Basically, an increased level of improvements results in faster trip times and increased rider comfort.
If the system costs about the same to use as auto travel, the consultants indicated approximately a 40% ridership level. Naturally, if the system is more expensive or significantly slower than highway driving, this figure would be lower.
The next area the consultants will address is cost/benefit ratios. Once these are determined, it will be possible to determine the priority segments and services to be developed.
A presentation was also given by Michael Ongerth, Vice President of Strategic Development (San Francisco). He discussed Southern Pacific’s position of support for this project. SP is quite willing to work with Arizona to develop a compatible relationship.
Mr. Ongerth also examined several factors critical to the success of this project:
- Liability (insurance etc.)
- Capital Formula.
The latter involves making assurances that once a plan is developed, sufficient resources (e.g., monetary and other assets) are availableÂ for its implementation.
More ICE Train Notes September 17th, 1993
I spoke with one of the German crew; he noted that there is a basic difference between the Swedish X-2000 trainset and the ICE: The X-2000 tilts to increase speed through turns, while the ICE is designed for high-speed running on straighter track. The track between Washington and New York would thus favor the ICE technology, while New York to Boston (especially from New Haven northward) would gain the most from the X2000.
Regarding use of the existing ICE network, I inquired about the possibility of running through trains from London to German cities via the “Chunnel.” He noted that in addition to the TGV – ICE rivalry, the French railway system uses a different catenary voltage. Thus the engines would need some sort of dual-voltage system. Apparently, however, through trains are being studied as part of an all-encompassing European high-speedÂ train system.
Historic Yuma Depot Burns September 14th, 1993
by Chuck Wullenjohn
The Southern Pacific railroad depot located in Yuma, Arizona, originally constructed in 1926, recently burned after sparks from faulty wiring ignited a major blaze. As the area’s central transportation hub for many decades, the depot say tens of thousands of passengers embark or detrain. Many thousands of World War II soldiers passed through the station as they took part in desert training in the area. The most famous of these was General George Patton’s who were preparing for action in North Africa. Local native Americans once lined its platforms selling handmade crafts and souvenirs to tourists.
Amtrak trains stop in front of an adjacent freight facility constructed by Southern Pacific in the mid-1970′s when the station was abandoned. Passengers pass through a subway and wait for the train on a concrete platform between the two track,s though Southern Pacific personnel allow people to wait inside the freight station’s lobby.
The tri-weekly “Sunset” serves Yuma in the wee hours of the morning and is often late. The wood-lined subway and platform currently in use are remainders of the 1926 construction.
Local authorities hope to salvage the historic structure, but plans currently are unclear. In recent years, the depot served as home for the publicly-funded Yuma Art Center.
ICE Train Comments September 10th, 1993
Well, with the conclusion of the ICE Train display, ARPA is definitely “on the move.” We have another event “under our belt” and the media and legislators are now paying attention when we speak. The attendance and media coverage of the display speaks for itself. Close to 200 invitees had breakfast and toured the trainset; and seventeen separate spots of news coverage really made a splash. Of course, if you have a gorgeous trainset to show off, it’s not tremendously difficult to spark people’s curiosity.
“Could Phoenix really have a train like this?”Â “Can it really be rolling by Superbowl ’96?” Yes, yes, yes.
As a rider to El Paso, I was impressed. This train had everything from comfort to beauty to utility to entertainment to great food to speed; it was all there. Lots of heads were turning along the way to El Paso as this futuristic looking trainset zipped by.
On board I watched a movie on the LCD TV screen installed in the seatbacks, and visited with friends in comfortable seats. If I had work to do, there were work tables available, along with a conference room, fax, phones, and travel center computer.
Although the beautiful dining car was not serving during this leg of the tour, the bistro car was open and serving great food. After dinner, as the scenery rolled by, I was disappointed to find that we were nearing El Paso, and the ride would soon end… I was ready for Orlando aboard this beautiful trainset.