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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » Greater Maricopa

   
Author Topic: Greater Maricopa
TwinStarRocket
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Phoenix just passed Philadelphia as 5th largest city in the US. At least there is room to expand a Maricopa transit hub right downtown.
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Gilbert B Norman
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There is much more to the issue regarding relevance of the railroad industry than simply noting Phoenix displaced Philadelphia as the fifth largest US city. Of far greater interest is that four of the "top ten" are on the Sunset's Route.

They are only connected by a tri-weekly passenger service...

OK time for The Sopranos
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sojourner
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I gather the four are Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and L.A., right, Mr Norman? (I guess it can be argued that LA has lots and San Antonio has some alternatives, at least; but Phoenix and Houston ought to have better service for sure.)

BTW, what are the top 10 cites? I know NYC, Chicago, Philly, Dallas are also in there--what are the other 2? One is Atlanta, right? Is the other Seattle? Miami? Or is Cleveland still in there? Denver???

I do know Las Vegas is (or recently was) the fastest growing US city--and there too there is no Amtrak.

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Gilbert B Norman
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1) NY
2) LA
3) Chi
4) Houston
5) Phoenix
6) Phila
7) San Antonio
8) San Diego
10)San Jose

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TwinStarRocket
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Five cities in the Phoenix metro are pretty high up the list of fastest growing, including Mr. Norman's namesake, Gilbert, which is getting pretty close to Maricopa.

I suppose Philadelphia service will now be cut back to 3 Acelas a week stopping at a concrete slab 40 miles out of town.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Why do you all think I parodied The Sopranos #86?

There are so many perfectly relevant ways this discussion could move.

Even if I disagree, I must accept that some advocates and other regular train riders from off-Corridor localities hold "they have their trains, we want ours"; after all, we compute our Federal Income Tax liability in the exact same manner.

While Title 26 USC (that's the Internal Revenue Code), provides for such, as I noted earlier, the distribution of benefits from that taxation is at the hands of the political process. Save that $3 for presidential elections, there is no earmarking of funds ("I want all my taxes to go to Amtrak") by a taxpayer. If you want that, you talk to your Congresscritter, not the IRS.

Just some random thoughts as this topic discussion develops.

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TwinStarRocket
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Actually, I also don't agree with "they have their trains, we wan't ours". My opinion is that Amtrak should have a long term funding source that will allow tailoring the national system to more current demographics, ...specifically serve the expanding Sun Belt.

My personal (and selfish) opinion is that we could come up with a few more bucks for the LD system to allow this to happen, but not at the expense of any existing service. People should be looking at market potential.

A mix of skeletal LD and state supported corridors should be studied, based on population centers. For instance, Tucson-Phoenix-LA (& Flagstaff?) could be a corridor system. San Antonio-Houston-DFW could have their state supported trains. A daily, perhaps twice daily Sunset could connect these systems as well as eastern population centers. Lots more potential riders.

It is simply an opportunity for more revenue, and to have the national system serve more of the people who are paying for it. I believe revenues would expand at a higher rate than costs as the number of possible destinations increases exponentially.

If UP wants to abandon any of the line through Phoenix, let Amtrak buy it. And if they don't want more passenger trains on their tracks, partially subsidize capacity improvements.

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delvyrails
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As a native of hapless Philadelphia, I have to agree that the Sun Belt is Amtrak's worst-served part of the country. When I tell people here that while Philly sees 600 trains per week, Houston sees only six, they just stare at me in disbelief.

As for the Phoenix Main Line, it was completed only in 1925-6; so it never had much chance to build up freight traffic on the lonely western 60 miles or so which UP doesn't now operate.

Even if Amtrak had a bundle to buy those miles, the restoration cost and the annual maintenance cost would be huge.

There are at least two other options for restoring Amtrak service to Chandler, Mesa and Phoenix:

(1) run the train off the freight main line from Picacho to Phoenix and back (a long version of Lakeland-Tampa), or

(2) shift the route between LA and Picacho to run via Riverside, Barstow, Cadiz, Parker, and Wickenburg to Phoenix, Picacho, Tuscon, etc. (it's been used several times by the Sunset for detour moves).

With the latter alternative, "no Yuma, no moolah" would have to be replaced with "no Parker, no pesos"!

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TwinStarRocket
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Phoenix has plans for light rail service serving Tempe and Mesa, and I think it involves the old SP line. I think they also have similar plans west from Phoenix. Commuter rail to Tucson is also being discussed using UP. Why not coordinate this with plans for Amtrak's Sunset sharing the tracks, like the SWC at ABQ?

That way Amtrak's share of maintenance and renovation cost could get closer to spare change ("no Chandler, no panhandler"?).

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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by TwinStarRocket:
Commuter rail to Tucson is also being discussed using UP. Why not coordinate this with plans for Amtrak's Sunset sharing the tracks, like the SWC at ABQ?

That way Amtrak's share of maintenance and renovation cost could get closer to spare change.

Phoenix to the east is not the problem. The allowable speeds there are about what they were when Amtrak was on it. It is Phoenix to the west, which is 25 mph, 20 mph, or out of service. If someone has a few hundred millions laying around this can be fixed. Otherwise, states quo for Amtrak with or without the proposed corrodor service.
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notelvis
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I say dream big.......a dedicated light rail connector from the Maricopa station all the way to downtown Phoenix.

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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TwinStarRocket
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At least there is a right of way west from Phoenix. With the population densities at either end of an LA-PHX line, an upgrade of track to allow 79-100 mph service with high train frequencies would be as justified as CHI-Detroit and CHI-St. Louis. The flatter and more direct UP route would allow faster trips than going over Cajon.

And by the time this is built, beautiful dowtown Gila Bend will have surely passed Baltimore in population.

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Gilbert B Norman
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quote:
Originally posted by TwinStarRocket:
Five cities in the Phoenix metro are pretty high up the list of fastest growing, including Mr. Norman's namesake, Gilbert, which is getting pretty close to Maricopa.

NBC Nightly News had a segment Saturday regarding my namesake Arizona city. Should they post this segment over at their site, it has interesting maps showing the shift in population to the Southwest, and noting that some a North Central cities such as Detoit has lost half its population since 1950.
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train lady
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There was a big segment on our local news the other night about just that. According to the report the northern cities were losing population and the south gaining because of better weather and more jobs.
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