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Transcript of CoioRail · PDF file IOWA TRANSCON ROUTE ALSO GETS STUDY In January, Amtrak released its...

  • CoioRail Newsletter "ft voice for Colorado's rail passengers' I I

    Issue *t6

    A new Amtrak t r a i n w i l l begin s e r v i n g Denver and Northern Colorado t h i s summer, p o s s i b l y as e a r l y as mid-June. F i n a l arrangements are being made now, according to Arthur L l o y d , D i r e c t o r , P u b l i c A f f a i r s - West, f o r the r a i l passenger company. P l a n s c a l l f o r T r a i n s 25/26, the Pioneer, to be rerouted tfitween Ogden and Denver. At p r e s e n t , i t i s c o n s o l i d a t e d w i t h T r a i n s 5/5/35/36 between S a l t Lake C i t y and Denver. Under the new arrangement, i t would continue as a separate t r a i n from Ogden over the Union P a c i f i c Main L i n e to Laramie, then on the B o r i e Cut-off to G r e e l e y , and down the U.P. to Denver.

    C o l o R a i l members have p r e d i c t e d t h i s improvement w h i l e d e a l i n g w i t h urban planners who wanted to c l o s e or downgrade Denver Union T e r m i n a l ' s Union S t a t i o n . The t y p i c a l s u b s t i t u t e "Amshack" proposed as a s i n g l e - t r a c k f a c i l i t y would not have allowed c r e a t i o n of the second t r a i n . When Amtrak would e v e n t u a l l y have been able to add a Wyoming r o u t e , l a c k of c a p a c i t y i n Denver could have forced the new t r a i n onto the d i r e c t Lararaie-Cheyenne-Omaha r o u t e , bypassing Denver and Greeley.

    The new t r a i n has come about through a combination of reasons. I t has long been apparent t h a t the combined Pioneer/Desert Wind/California Zephyr has become the v i c t i m of i t s own s u c c e s s : too b i g , too complex, and w i t h the same rugged t e r r a i n which makes i t such a b e a u t i f u l t r i p a l s o a l i m i t i n g f a c t o r . Added to t h a t has been the o v e r a l l growth of Amtrak's headend t r a f f i c , p a r t i c u l a r l y m a i l . P o l i t i c a l support f o r a second Amtrak C e n t r a l T r a n s c o n t i n e n t a l route has been present i n v a r y i n g degrees, but t h a t i s t r u e of many r o u t e s . When Amtrak won an a d d i t i o n a l mail c o n t r a c t between Oakland and Chicago, i t had to come up w i t h a method of reducing the s i z e of the combined t r a i n through Colorado's R o c k i e s . From v a r i o u s s o u r c e s , the c u r r e n t f o r e c a s t f o r the new Pioneer i s to be the same c o n s i s t through to Denver as i t now c a r r i e s from P o r t l a n d to S a l t Lake C i t y (an a d d i t i o n a l , unreserved coach runs i n peak periods betv/een P o r t l a n d and S e a t t l e ) . T h i s provides one locomotive, a coach - baggage c a r , a coach, a d i n i n g c a r running as a diner-lounge, and a s l e e p e r . Ogden-Salt Lake C i t y connections would be provided by a connecting bus. I t i s not c l e a r yet as to whether the bus w i l l make a r o u n d - t r i p f o r each t r a i n ( i e . , connect SLC-DEN, as w e l l as SLC-SEA); i f t h a t t u r n s out not to be the c a s e , C o l o R a i l w i l l push to see t h a t t r a i n s i n both d i r e c t i o n s have connections at Ogden. The next steps i n s o l i d i f y i n g t h i s gain are f o r Amtrak to o b t a i n a m a i l c o n t r a c t f o r D e n v e r - S e a t t l e c a r s , and f o r purchases of new S u p e r l i n e r equipment to proceed, so t h a t adequate c a p a c i t y i s open fo r s a l e on both l i n e s west from Denver. I f r o l l i n g stock e x i s t e d to handle a l l of the p o t e n t i a l t r a f f i c , t h e r e would be a t h i r d s e parate t r a i n west of Denver ( t h e Desert Wind) to Los Angeles/San Diego.

    INSIDE THIS ISSUE: More on transcon r o u t e s ! C o l o R a i l board e l e c t i o n s , Denver Union S t a t i o n becoming an intermodal t e r m i n a l , Colorado t a l k s DOT.

  • IOWA TRANSCON ROUTE ALSO GETS STUDY I n J anuary, Amtrak r e l e a s e d i t s Congressionally-mandated study of the f e a s i b i l i t y of making up a separate t r a i n i n the Ogden-Salt Lake C i t y a r e a , f o r operation over the Union P a c i f i c through Wyoming to Omaha, and then over the Chicago & Northwestern to Chicago. The C&NW route l i e s to the north of Des Moines, w h i l e the B u r l i n g t o n Northern route used i n Iowa by Amtrak s e r v e s the southern p a r t of t h a t s t a t e . As i s o f t e n the case when Congress has to w r i t e s p e c i f i c i n s t r u c t i o n s , the study d i r e c t i v e was v e r y narrow. I t c r e a t e d the p o t e n t i a l f o r a new t r a i n which only gave the northern Iowa r e s i d e n t s access to the P a c i f i c Northwest, and i t coupled two s i t u a t i o n s (Wyoming and Iowa) which are not the same, and do not have the same needs and p o t e n t i a l s . S t i l l , the work done i n t h i s study paved the way f o r the change i n the Pioneer described on Page One of t h i s n e w s l e t t e r .

    Amtrak used what leeway i t had i n the process to propose t h a t the new route combine the Pioneer and Desert Wind, thus g i v i n g C a l i f o r n i a a ccess to customers of both Iowa r o u t e s . I t a l s o noted a t the c o n c l u s i o n of the r e p o r t t h a t more of lowans' i n t e r e s t s might be met by running a Chicago-Omaha coach t r a i n , which could be timed f o r connections west, and would not be a t the mercy of t r a n s c o n t i n e n t a l schedules (and d e l a y s ) . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , as a r e s u l t of c u r r e n t n a t i o n a l p o l i c i e s , Amtrak had to suggest t h a t t h i s t h r e e - s t a t e o p e r a t i o n be run as a "403b." ( s t a t e - s u b s i d i z e d ) s e r v i c e . T h i s makes the suggestion v e r y u n l i k e l y to be implemented, s i n c e the agreement of the I l l i n o i s , Iowa, and Nebraska l e g i s l a t u r e s would not be easy to obtain i n annual a p p r o p r i a t i o n s .

    Of p a r t i c u l a r i n t e r e s t to Coloradans was the proposal t h a t the second through West Coast-Chicago t r a i n operate v i a Denver. The r o u t i n g between Denver and Omaha was l e f t undetermined, but the proposal d e f i n i t e l y V70uld have given the Denver metro area a choice of times f o r t r i p s to/from Omaha and Chicago. The second t r a i n e a s t of Denver w i l l remain h y p o t h e t i c a l u n t i l more equipment and funds are a v a i l a b l e .

    ColoRail provided input i n t o the study i n s e v e r a l ways. Most i m p o r t a n t l y , our e f f o r t s to r e t a i n Denver Union S t a t i o n were well-known i n Amtrak headquarters, and as t h i s process came along, many r a i l passenger people became f a m i l i a r w i t h the f a c t t h a t when surrounding s e r v i c e s ( h o t e l s , r e s t a u r a n t s , t o u r i s t a t t r a c t i o n s ) a r e taken i n t o account, Denver has one of the f i n e s t s t a t i o n s i n the country. We wrote two d e t a i l e d l e t t e r s to Amtrak, d i s c u s s i n g pros and cons of l i k e l y s e r v i c e p a t t e r n s . We provided background on Lower Downtown and the Union S t a t i o n . We a l s o surveyed members attending the October 6th C o l o R a i l g e n e r a l meeting, and passed t h e i r comments on to Amtrak.

    West Slope Loses Out T h i s y e a r ' s r e r o u t i n g of the Pioneer and the f u t u r e r e r o u t i n g of the Desert Wind complicate access between Western Colorado p o i n t s and the Far West s t a t e s . C a p a c i t y r e s t r a i n t s on the D&RGW Main L i n e through the Rockies argue a g a i n s t second and t h i r d passenger t r a i n s f o r the West Slope. I n other s t a t e s faced w i t h t h i s s i t u a t i o n , s t a t e Departments of T r a n s p o r t a t i o n have taken a c t i o n to improve r a i l l i n e s , drawing more passenger s e r v i c e than they would otherwise be able to o b t a i n . Colorado not only i s among four s t a t e s without a DOT, but West Slope s p e c i a l i n t e r e s t s (a group c a l l e d "Club 20" i n the l e a d ) , have i n s i s t e d t h a t only highway t r a n s p o r t a t i o n i s needed i n t h e i r p a r t of Colorado, and have worked a g a i n s t c r e a t i o n of a DOT. Given the guarantaed l a c k of a c t i o n on the p a r t of the Colorado s t a t e government, C o l o R a i l has had no option but to support the new Wyoming ro u t e , s i n c e i t s t i l l r e s u l t s i n a net improvement i n r a i l passenger s e r v i c e f o r most Coloradans.

    - 2 -

  • House B i l l 1198 Would Create Colorado DOT

    HB 1198, introduced i n t o the 1991 Colorado l e g i s l a t i v e assembly by Rep. Norma Anderson (R-Lakewood), would c r e a t e a Colorado Department of T r a n s p o r t a t i o n . T h i s i s the most r e c e n t of two decades' worth of attempts to r e s t r u c t u r e the s t a t e ' s t r a n s p o r t a t i o n f u n c t i o n s (or l a c k t h e r e o f ) . The c u r r e n t b i l l , designed to rock few b o a t s , mainly a c h i e v e s a DOT by c o n v e r t i n g the Highway Department i n t o a mild form of m u l t i - modal agency. The new agency's main f u n c t i o n i n v o l v i n g r a i l r o a d s would be the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of g a t h e r i n g i n f o r m a t i o n and developing a s t a t e r a i l p l a n . E x p e r i e n c e elsewhere has proven t h a t over a four to f i f t e e n year p e r i o d , an agency t h a t s t a r t s out t h i s way can develop i n t o a t r u e DOT. Right now, the Highway Department i s l a y i n g plans to redo c u r v e s i n J e f f e r s o n County i n ways which w i l l wipe out R