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Old 04-14-2019, 02:38 AM
 
8 posts, read 2,761 times
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With Denver's RTD having established electric heavy passenger rail and the San Francisco Bay Area's Caltrain soon to do the same, I think Salt Lake City's should be the next for the following reasons:
* FrontRunner owns their own tracks (save for north of Ogden, which Union Pacific owns)
* FrontRunner's maintenance facility also shares space with Stadler's Utah factory.

What fleet would be used?
* At the cheapest, UTA can just continue to use the existing Bombardier Bi-Level coaches with electric locomotives hauling it. UTA could either lease ex-Amtrak AEM-7s and ex-NJT/Septa ALP-44s until new equipment arrives or procure a fleet of ACS-64s from Siemens.
* Alternatively, FrontRunner can outright do away locomotive-hauled trains and go with an exclusively-electric multiple unit fleet. Stadler is in the process on building a larger factory in Salt Lake City, and they are already building bilevel EMUs for Caltrain so UTA can quickly procure a fleet of bilevel EMUs just like the ones to be used on Caltrain. Also what might motivate UTA to go with Stadler bilevel EMUs instead of ACS-64s is that Stadler has a factory in the state, so they may got for a locally-produced train.

However, for electrification to occur, UTA has to grade separate and double track the entire line (see https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/vi...6580681715&z=8), and even rebuild their stations if they transition to high-level platforms completely like what Caltrain will (this would also introduce problems with Amtrak if they plan on using FrontRunner tracks as the only Amtrak trains there use the exclusively low-floor Superliner trains, though Amtrak can order something like this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...-2016_img1.jpg albeit dual-floored like the Caltrain EMUs) for their Superliner replacements). Aside from the costs, UTA would have to wrangle with Union Pacific to gain space to add a double track, and Union Pacific is infamous for being stingy with their space when compared to other Class I railroads like BNSF.

Future expansions
* A fully-expanded FrontRunner would span around 140 miles, from Nephi to Brigham City. UTA can introduce an intercity train route similar to Amtrak California's intercity services or Virgin Trains USA's Brightline that spans the entire route.
* With Virgin Trains USA to build a new rail line linking Palmdale and Victorville with Las Vegas, if it gets enough ridership, to close the gap, Amtrak, in tandem with UTA, can build a new rail line linking Las Vegas with the Salt Lake City area (as Union Pacific isn't going to let them use the existing tracks between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City). This new rail line would follow Interstate 15 closely, and there are more cities along this route than the existing UP rail line. Coincidentally this would indirectly act as a successor to the Desert Wind, a train that ran from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City until budget cuts axed the service in 1997. This rail line would also be electric due to steep grades between St. George and Nephi (elevation can reach as high as 6,000 feet).
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:38 AM
 
9,644 posts, read 9,658,171 times
Reputation: 30464
Quote:
Originally Posted by D.S. Lewith View Post
With Denver's RTD having established electric heavy passenger rail and the San Francisco Bay Area's Caltrain soon to do the same, I think Salt Lake City's should be the next for the following reasons:
* FrontRunner owns their own tracks (save for north of Ogden, which Union Pacific owns)
* FrontRunner's maintenance facility also shares space with Stadler's Utah factory.

What fleet would be used?
* At the cheapest, UTA can just continue to use the existing Bombardier Bi-Level coaches with electric locomotives hauling it. UTA could either lease ex-Amtrak AEM-7s and ex-NJT/Septa ALP-44s until new equipment arrives or procure a fleet of ACS-64s from Siemens.
* Alternatively, FrontRunner can outright do away locomotive-hauled trains and go with an exclusively-electric multiple unit fleet. Stadler is in the process on building a larger factory in Salt Lake City, and they are already building bilevel EMUs for Caltrain so UTA can quickly procure a fleet of bilevel EMUs just like the ones to be used on Caltrain. Also what might motivate UTA to go with Stadler bilevel EMUs instead of ACS-64s is that Stadler has a factory in the state, so they may got for a locally-produced train.

However, for electrification to occur, UTA has to grade separate and double track the entire line (see https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/vi...6580681715&z=8), and even rebuild their stations if they transition to high-level platforms completely like what Caltrain will (this would also introduce problems with Amtrak if they plan on using FrontRunner tracks as the only Amtrak trains there use the exclusively low-floor Superliner trains, though Amtrak can order something like this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...-2016_img1.jpg albeit dual-floored like the Caltrain EMUs) for their Superliner replacements). Aside from the costs, UTA would have to wrangle with Union Pacific to gain space to add a double track, and Union Pacific is infamous for being stingy with their space when compared to other Class I railroads like BNSF.

Future expansions
* A fully-expanded FrontRunner would span around 140 miles, from Nephi to Brigham City. UTA can introduce an intercity train route similar to Amtrak California's intercity services or Virgin Trains USA's Brightline that spans the entire route.
* With Virgin Trains USA to build a new rail line linking Palmdale and Victorville with Las Vegas, if it gets enough ridership, to close the gap, Amtrak, in tandem with UTA, can build a new rail line linking Las Vegas with the Salt Lake City area (as Union Pacific isn't going to let them use the existing tracks between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City). This new rail line would follow Interstate 15 closely, and there are more cities along this route than the existing UP rail line. Coincidentally this would indirectly act as a successor to the Desert Wind, a train that ran from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City until budget cuts axed the service in 1997. This rail line would also be electric due to steep grades between St. George and Nephi (elevation can reach as high as 6,000 feet).
There simply isn't enough demand for train service from Salt Lake City to either Las Vegas or Los Angeles to justify that kind of an expansion of Front Runner or train service operated by others. I can fly from Salt Lake City to either LAX or LAS for about $160 round trip. The flight to Las Vegas takes a little over an hour. The flight to Los Angeles takes about and an hour and forty minutes. Trains are very expensive because a train journey that long requires facilities on board like snack bars and restaurants which seldom pay for themselves. There are also legal implications to creating a railroad or train service that is interstate (than intrastate) in nature. Without getting into details, I will say that it will increase costs. There is a reason why interstate rail passenger service was turned over to Amtrak in 1970. It simply was not economically feasible.

I do see Front Runner gradually expanding service over the years. Actually, I think some sort of service all the way north to Logan (not just Brigham City) would be desirable. I don't think building line south to Nephi would be justifiable. There are comparatively few people down there. Although, a line as far south as Spanish Fork or Payson might be reasonable.

Last edited by markg91359; 04-14-2019 at 08:45 AM..
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Old 04-14-2019, 08:41 AM
 
5,933 posts, read 3,676,323 times
Reputation: 7268
Quote:
Originally Posted by D.S. Lewith View Post
Future expansions
* A fully-expanded FrontRunner would span around 140 miles, from Nephi to Brigham City. UTA can introduce an intercity train route similar to Amtrak California's intercity services or Virgin Trains USA's Brightline that spans the entire route.
* With Virgin Trains USA to build a new rail line linking Palmdale and Victorville with Las Vegas, if it gets enough ridership, to close the gap, Amtrak, in tandem with UTA, can build a new rail line linking Las Vegas with the Salt Lake City area (as Union Pacific isn't going to let them use the existing tracks between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City). This new rail line would follow Interstate 15 closely, and there are more cities along this route than the existing UP rail line. Coincidentally this would indirectly act as a successor to the Desert Wind, a train that ran from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City until budget cuts axed the service in 1997. This rail line would also be electric due to steep grades between St. George and Nephi (elevation can reach as high as 6,000 feet).
I agree with Mark, the demand for a SLC to Las Vegas rail line is just not there, even if Vegas has a large LDS population. Plus the cost for such a line could reach $10+ billion, and I don't see too many businesses willing to spend that kind of money knowing they would probably have to charge $1,000 per ticket to make all that money back, before they even turn a profit! Since you brought up Virgin Trains USA and the SoCal/Vegas line, I assume you know the backstory?

There's a Las Vegas based hotel developer named Marnell, that formed a private venture called DesertXpress, and later renamed XpressWest. The original plan was to provide an alternative to automobile travel between the Los Angeles area to Las Vegas along Interstate 15 as well as an alternative to airline travel. Then in June 2012 (even before starting construction on the SoCal/Vegas line), the developer announced a new plan to build a network of high-speed rail for the region by expanding to Arizona, Utah and Colorado.



Well, fast forward to September 2015 and Marnell was going to partner with a Chinese company to build the original SoCal/Vegas line, that eventually fell through. Then in September 2018, Marnell eventually sold their interest to Fortress Investment Group, which owns Floridian intercity service Brightline (now Virgin Trains USA). I would love to see Virgin Trains USA succeed with their SoCal/Vegas high speed rail line, only time will tell if that will happen.

Train travel has that cool, sexy vibe, and would it be great to have high speed rail all throughout the US on it's own ROW, sure but that is not a priority here in the US. Places like Japan can spend 10's of billion and China can speed $100 billion on high speed rail, because they made it a priority. Every country is different and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Last edited by cjseliga; 04-14-2019 at 08:50 AM..
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Old 04-14-2019, 12:41 PM
 
5,987 posts, read 3,216,694 times
Reputation: 10901
The primary purposes of trax is to get commuters to and from work, college, and the airport. Before any expansion of mission (eg connection to Vegas or Denver) we need to get the primary goal near perfected. Scope creep on anything will ruin the underlying focus on the primary objective.
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Old 04-14-2019, 02:24 PM
 
8 posts, read 2,761 times
Reputation: 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by SWFL_Native View Post
The primary purposes of trax is to get commuters to and from work, college, and the airport. Before any expansion of mission (eg connection to Vegas or Denver) we need to get the primary goal near perfected. Scope creep on anything will ruin the underlying focus on the primary objective.
That's why I put SLC-Vegas as a future expansion plan once the conditions are favorable (i.e. XpressWest having enough ridership, although it would get more if it built a new Cajon rail line but that would cost a lot but I think it would be worth the cost; FrontRunner completing its existing expansions and modernization).

Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
There simply isn't enough demand for train service from Salt Lake City to either Las Vegas or Los Angeles to justify that kind of an expansion of Front Runner or train service operated by others. I can fly from Salt Lake City to either LAX or LAS for about $160 round trip. The flight to Las Vegas takes a little over an hour. The flight to Los Angeles takes about and an hour and forty minutes. Trains are very expensive because a train journey that long requires facilities on board like snack bars and restaurants which seldom pay for themselves. There are also legal implications to creating a railroad or train service that is interstate (than intrastate) in nature. Without getting into details, I will say that it will increase costs. There is a reason why interstate rail passenger service was turned over to Amtrak in 1970. It simply was not economically feasible.
Could a modern SLC-Denver rail line work better than SLC-Vegas, though this would be even longer than SLC-Vegas and would require a considerable amount of construction between Grand Junction and Denver, including multiple new long rail tunnels following I-70 for a more direct route.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
I do see Front Runner gradually expanding service over the years. Actually, I think some sort of service all the way north to Logan (not just Brigham City) would be desirable. I don't think building line south to Nephi would be justifiable. There are comparatively few people down there. Although, a line as far south as Spanish Fork or Payson might be reasonable.
I brought up Nephi because FrontRunner has planned it to be the southernmost terminus (https://www.heraldextra.com/news/loc...aa6009166.html)
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