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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » SWC- Pueblo extension?

   
Author Topic: SWC- Pueblo extension?
palmland
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After an on going soap opera the past several years about continuing to operate the SWC over its current route, it seems likely necessary repairs are being made to secure its future. Now the previous railfan rumors about routing it via Pueblo seem to have resurfaced.

Fortunately the current discussion makes more sense than a circuitous detour via Pueblo. According to Trains.com newswire, discussions seem to be progressing on a connecting train with through cars:

"...projects that the Chicago-Los Angeles Chief would annually gain at least 14,000 additional passengers and over $1.445 million in revenue if through cars to and from Chicago were switched onto a stub train operating between La Junta, Colo., and Pueblo Union Station....Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says, “We are encouraged by the projections presented to the Southwest Chief Commission…and will continue to work with (Chairman Sal) Pace in Pueblo, the other commissioners, and all parties along the route who are interested in expanding the Amtrak network.”

However, no cost estimates yet and no discussions with BNSF and UP. If Colorado is interested in getting this done, it would seem a logical first step might be a thruway bus to test this market. It is hard to believe Pueblo and surrounding area could provide enough revenue to make this feasible.

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Vincent206
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Pueblo? How about extending it another 100 miles to Denver?

The timings look better for connections to/from Chicago than Los Angeles. The stub train could collect the cars from train 3 and depart for Pueblo about 845am and be back in the evening to meet with train 4 at 731pm.

The Denver to Pueblo/La Junta tracks have been a major coal route for years. Has coal traffic dropped enough to allow a daily Amtrak train? Or is coal shipped on another route?

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George Harris
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Don't recall the schedules from regular passenger service days, but Pueblo to Denver was SLOW. Don't know what it would be now, but it would be slower. Remember, with the end of passenger service and the advent of high center of gravity cars, piggyback, double stacks, tri-level auto racks, superelevation has been reduced in many curves. When we take these along with the end of passenger service and less need for speed where curves required reduced speeds the speed limit on these curves has been reduce 5 to 10 mph, sometimes more. This line is crooked, has long and relatively steep grades, and is closely paralleled by I-25. It is very likely the train schedule would need to be roughly twice the drive time on the interstate. If Pueblo - Denver is roughly 100 miles, best figure a 3 hour schedule.
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notelvis
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Give the advocates in Colorado credit for getting this far though. They wish to go on to Denver but are willing to try to make Pueblo work....... if they can get much.

I think it's more likely that a Pueblo connector train is DOA when they get pricing requirements back from UP and BNSF though.

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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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palmland
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By 1967 Santa Fe's train to Denver was coaches only - no through cars. The schedule was timed to connect to/from the Chief to/from LA - not Chicago. It averaged 51 mph for the 64 miles to Pueblo with one scheduled stop (Rocky Ford) and no less than six flag stops. It would seem this route, at least initially would be better served by an RDC type connecting train.
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Iron Mountain
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For the sake of discussion why not extend the Heartland Flyer to Newton, Kansas? Humor me, I understand the current fiscal situation in Kansas. But from the point of view to develop a more comprehensive rail service the connection between Oklahoma City and Kansas City would seem to make more sense.
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Vincent206
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quote:
gain at least 14,000 additional passengers and over $1.445 million in revenue
That works out to about $100 per passenger--for a 64 mile train trip. The existing Ambus service costs about $37 on the dates I checked.
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PullmanCo
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Mr Iron Mountain...

I refer you here

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The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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DonNadeau
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The problem that impacts most significantly on SWC yields is lack of population density along its route. Once one leaves Kansas City only Albuquerque with less than 1,000,000 metro has any significant population until reach San Bernardino.

Pueblo puts the SWC within some 43 miles of Colorado Springs and within 112 miles of Denver. That's a lot more attractive than a bus to La Junta.

My understanding, which may be wrong, is that the SWC would access Pueblo directly from the east and then head south from Pueblo toward Albuquerque.

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@DonNadeau

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PullmanCo
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Don, forgive me, but...

AYFSM????

WATCO's the Kansas and Oklahoma? They were not even in existence on A-Day. While the trackage you are talking is former Missouri Pacific (as I recall), the UP sold it off.

GBN, check me if I'm wrong, but if there's no legal connection to the founders, Amtrak would have to 1) pay for any upgrades they wanted to use someone else's line and 2) would have to pay market rates for movement. Correct???

The other option is for Amtrak to operate on a BNSF line from La Junta to Pueblo. I have no idea about the status of that line.

BTW, from Pueblo to Walsenburg, Amtrak would have to operate on UP rails.

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Gilbert B Norman
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While one legal beagle or the other would be about to say "oh yeah;see you in court", a successor road is bound by the RPSA 70 and the May 1, 1971 Agreement.
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PullmanCo
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OK, next question:

What would be WATCO's obligation to upgrade the road, particularly if the K&O is down to Class 2 rail?

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Gilbert B Norman
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As a successor to Missouri Pacific's contract, all they are obligated to do is negotiate in good faith with Amtrak. If track in question is FRA Class 2, which can handle a passenger train 30mph, then their "fair and reasonable" estimate of the upgrade would be part of the "package".

If the Colorado Eagle, which incidentally didn't make it to A-Day, ran over such a badly deterioratied route, safe assumption we're "talkin heap big wampum" for any kind of service restoration.

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DonNadeau
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Sorry. I don't know what "AYFSM????" means. Couldn't find on Internet.

Also couldn't find my 1966 (pre post office massacre of mail by rail) ATSF passenger timetable & didn't remember that its trains had to run south from Colorado Springs via La Junta. Again, sorry.

As far as any Amtrak trains running south from Denver, in my opinion there are a lot more viable new route choices for Amtrak's limited resources.

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@DonNadeau

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