1994 News Wrapup December 31st, 1994
- “1994 Regional/Commuter Rail Planner’s Guide,” Railway Age, 1994
- “A railroader’s guide to Washington,” Railway Age, 1994, Names, addresses, phones for elected and appointed in DC
- “Jake Jacobson: A profile in courage,” Railway Age, January 1994
- “Interview with Jolene Molitoris,” Progressive Railroading, January 1994 , ( FRA’s new woman in charge )
- “Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley (maybe),” The Phoenix Gazette, January 5, 1994, Article on proposed trolley for Phoenix
- “Trolley’s clang heard for downtown,” The Arizona Republic, January 5, 1994, Article on proposed trolley for Phoenix
- “ARPA Wants ‘You to Climb on Board’,” The Wester, Mar 17-23, 1994
- “Passenger train service proposal derails in Senate,” The Arizona Daily Star, April 10, 1994
- “Phoenix – Update on Arizona Regional Rail/Phoenix Commuter,” Commuter Rail Journal, April 11, 1994
- “Amtrak of the future: World-class or wimp?,” Railway Age, May 1994 , Article on Amtrak and Thomas Downs
- “Rebuilding Union Station’s interlocking plant,” Railway Track and Structures, May 1994, Story on Chicago Union Station
- “Newsletter of the Valley Citizens League Commuter Rail Service?,” The Citizen Report, July/August, 1994, Article about ARPA proposal for Regional Rail
- “Relive frontier times in luxury of old railway,” The Arizona Republic, June 1, 1994, Article on Grand Canyon Railway
- (1)Amtrak issues a report card–and most host carriers flunk (2)W. Graham Claytor, Jr., former Amtrak chief, dies at 82, Railway Age, June 1994
- “L.S. Jake Jacobson Named 1994 Railroader of Year,” The Onaga Herald, June 2, 1994, Hometown newspaper article
- “Rail study picks up steam,” Daily News-Sun, June 14, 1994, Editorial on commuter rail for Phoenix area
- “Transit authority approves commuter rail system study,” Tribune Newspapers, June 14, 1994
- “Trial train run planned,” The Arizona Republic, June 17, 1994, Super Bowl demo article
- “Bowl train: Rail test weighed for big game,” The Arizona Republic, June 28, 1994
- “Mass-transit needs not met,” Arizonans say, The Arizona Republic, September 1, 1994
- Joining Forces Business giants would pair up in 3 deals Santa Fe & Burlington Northern …, The Arizona Republic, July 1, 1994
- “Williams Arizona,” Pacific Rail News, July 1994, Article about railroading in Williams
- Conductors on the train John Wylie and Pete Glass say get rail moving now , The Phoenix Gazette, July 8, 1994, Letter to Editor
- “Phoenix-Gilbert line proposed for commuter-rail test,” The Arizona Republic, September 21, 1994
- “Tuning up the train for the tourists,” The Arizona Republic, September 23, 1994, Photo and caption on Sierra Madre Express
- “House passes bill to plan high-speed corridors,” The Arizona Republic, August 17, 1994, Short piece on U.S. House of Representatives bill
- “ARPA Cites Progress on Urban Rail Project,” The Wester, August 25, 1994
- “Celebrating the rail-parks partnership,” Trains, October 1994, Santa Fe, Amtrak and the Grand Canyon Railway team up to honor a 75-year-old tradition
- “Light-rail train opens in Denver,” The Arizona Republic, October 8, 1994
- “Proposition 400 Finish the freeways,” The Arizona Republic, October 19, 1994, Editorial supporting freeway and transit tax issue
- Phoenix-Excerpt from article on rail transit developments in various cities., Railway Age, November 1994
- “Lack of transit plan worries mayors,” The Arizona Republic, December 15, 1994
Phoenix West Branch Threatened December 20th, 1994
At the Private Railcar Owners’ Convention in St. Louis this October, Jim Larsen of Amtrak mentioned that as of the 1996 Amtrak contract renegotiation, the west Phoenix branch, from Palo Verde (near Buckeye) to Roll was “on the endangered species list.”
What exactly this means is as yet unclear. But it raises the troubling possibility that Phoenix, Tempe, and Coolidge could lose Amtrak service. Running the Sunset Limited up the east branch from Picacho and then back down – which is how SP would run its freights – would be at least impractical. Amtrak discontinued a similar, but much shorter, 10-mile forward/back move to Cheyenne, WY in the early 80s.
The alternatives run from unpalatable to unlikely:
A Thruway bus from Phoenix to Casa Grande on the SP mainline. While California Thruway service has drawn riders, ARPA feels that buses to a primarily long-distance service like the Sunset would do poorly.
The Sunset could run on the AZCR from Phoenix west through Sun City Wickenburg, and Parker. While this would serve additional population centers, this would leave Yuma without passenger service, and add trains through Cadiz, CA on the already heavily loaded Santa Fe line. Should the west Phoenix branch be abandoned, Phoenix would lose its direct rail route to Los Angeles.
The branch could be sold to a shortline railroad. It is unclear whether any of the other rail companies currently in Arizona would have interest in this branch in which SP apparently sees little economic opportunity. It is be unclear whether such a shortline would be willing or able to host Amtrak service.
Amtrak could pay for the maintenance of the Roll to Palo Verde. Yet Amtrak owns but a few widely separated short stretches of track outside the Northeast Corridor. It might seem hardly worth maintaining almost a hundred miles of rail for the current three trains a week.
The evolving Arizona Rail Authority could purchase the line; or some new segments could be constructed with some existing sections abandoned. For example, a segment could be built from Buckeye following Route 85 to Gila Bend. Conversely, a line from west of Gila Bend running NNW from the SP mainline to the existing branch line could act as double track for the mainline. While these alternatives have advantages, they seem somewhat ambitious.
ARPA believes that returning to the days before 1926, when the west branch was constructed, would be a serious detriment not only to Amtrak but to the freight business as well – and the future economic growth of the state. One only need look at the phenomenal growth of the Valley of the Sun between 1950 and today to see the potential. While SP is double-tracking its mainline to handle intermodal traffic growth, does it make sense to abandon or even downgrade track leading to the eighth largest, and one of the fastest growing, metropolitan areas in the country?
Yuma Needs a Proper Depot December 11th, 1994
The historic Yuma rail passenger depot was gutted by fire started by faulty wiring in May, 1993, and the remains were demolished by the City of Yuma this past summer. The depot’s missionÂ tile roof had been caved in by the blaze and the sad charred walls, surrounded by a sagging chain link fence, were all the remained for nearly 18 months.
Abandoned as a transportation facility over 20 years ago, the City took title to the building and used it to house the Yuma Art Center. Amtrak passengers, as they have for many years, use a tunnel underneath the tracks to get to the station platform. This tunnel and platform were once part of the depot complex which saw as many as seven passenger trains a day each direction. Today, no structure stands were the depot, originally constructed in 1926 and for many years Yuma’s transportation hub, once proudly stood. The director of the Yuma Art Society says that the expense of salvaging the depot would have been too great.
Currently there is not even a public telephone within walking distance. Waiting facilities are minimal.
An idea has arisen which has great merit, however; the director of the art society has proposed that a grassy park be built on the old station grounds. The park would feature outdoor artwork as well as acting as a waiting area for train passengers. If lighting, telephones,Â and covered waiting areas are included, this would be a real and lasting improvement.
Yuma is Arizona’s third largest metropolitan area, and deserves a better rail passenger facility. Perhaps the active support of ARPA and Amtrak could make this park a reality. But as of today, nothing is being done; Yuma Amtrak passengers still wait for their tri-weekly train in the dead of night.
Verde River Ride November 4th, 1994
– Bill Lindley
November 4 started quite chilly in Sedona, with temperatures dipping towards the 20s. By mid-morning in Clarkdale the temperatures had risen to a more comfortable level (at least to this Phoenix dweller) and my ride on the Verde River Canyon Train began. Starting in Clarkdale, the rail line joins the Verde River and runs alongside it, offering spectacular views of Arizona scenery, birds, animals, and plant life. Ospreys, mergansers, and several eagles were seen on this trip. Other sights included rocks with appropriate names like Elephant and Turtle, as well as caves and American Indian ruins. As the train passed each of these, the crew pointed them out.
The train this morning had eight cars full of people, plus sightseeing gondolas, a gift shop in a converted boxcar, and a power-generator car. There were two first-class parlor cars. All were well filled with passengers enjoying a view of Arizona which is very different from the desert landscape often associated with the state.
Thanks to Rita Gardner and everyone at the Verde River Canyon Excursion Train for a most enjoyable trip.
Arizona Rail Progress August 15th, 1994
State Capitol, August 15, 1994
Joint Legislative Study Committee meeting notes.
RPTA gave a report on the Superbowl 2-month rail demonstration project. A representative from the Federal Transit Administration outlined objectives for the project, and described how many of the steps must be phased, with some required before seeking Federal applications.Â Highlighted in this presentation also was how the state’s Congressional delegation can be key to success in the Federal arena. The JLSC also heard from a private consultant who assembles financial packages for rail transit.
The next phase of the project will be to find a permanent funding source, while pursuing engineering studies and environmental analyses.
Lela Steffey, chairwoman, asked Harry Reed to head a subcommittee to find financial sources and options, and report back in early December. ARPA members Jay Myers and Gene Caywood will be members of this subcommittee.
ARPA members noted that not only was the meeting well-attended, but that all present seemed genuinely interested and concerned in the progress of rail passenger transportation.