Posts Tagged ‘Tucson Arizona’

Phoenix-Tucson Service Gets Mayoral Support

August 5, 2021

Amtrak is proposing to operate service between Phoenix and Tucson, a proposal that has gained the support of 11 Arizona mayors.

Phoenix has been off the Amtrak map since the mid 1990s when the Los Angeles-New Orleans Sunset Limited was rerouted away from the state’s largest city due to track rationalization west of Phoenix.

Trains 1 and 2 continue to serve Tucson on a tri-weekly schedule.

Amtrak has proposed operating three roundtrips per day over Union Pacific rails with the western terminus in Buckeye.

Intermediate stations would include Marana, Coolidge, Queen Creek, Tempe, Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, Phoenix Downtown and Goodyear-Avondale.

Connections would be available in Phoenix with the Valley Metro light rail system. Tucson’s SunLink streetcar system already connects to the city’s Amtrak station.

Amtrak said the service could link with the Sunset Limited to enable passengers to continue on to other points on the Amtrak network.

In a joint letter, the 11 Arizona mayors asked the state’s congressional delegation to “support Amtrak’s reauthorization proposal as Congress considers the future of surface transportation programs.”

Arizona Group Pushing Brightline-Type Service

December 23, 2018

An Arizona rail passenger advocate group is renewing its push to launch service between between Phoenix and Tucson by looking toward the private sector.

All Aboard Arizona is hoping to drum up interest in a Brightline type of rail commuter service between the state’s two largest cities as an alternative to driving on Interstate 10.

The group said the proposed service would cost $6 billion to develop. Money to pay for that would have to come from the state’s general fund because the Arizona Constitution prohibits funds raised by fees or taxes on motor vehicles from being used for any use other than streets and highways.

However, Anthony Trifiletti, the executive director of AAE, said the political climate in the state is hostile toward using money from the general fund for rail service, hence the effort to entice Brightline into the state.

Brightline operates rail service in Florida and has announced plans to develop a route between Las Vegas and Southern California.

“Our goal is to become the next one that they have an interest in, because this is something that can be done without state money,” Trifiletti said.

Trifiletti said a dedicated rail service would make the trip between Phoenix and Tucson in two hours, 15 minutes, which he said is competitive with driving and “a lot less stressful.”

Brightline officials plan to visit Arizona next spring to determine interest in offering rail service there.

The last rail passenger service between Phoenix and Tucson was Amtrak’s tri-weekly Sunset Limited.

Nos. 1 and 2 continue to service Tucson on their trek between New Orleans and Los Angeles, but were rerouted away from Phoenix to a more southerly route on June 2, 1996.

Amtrak operates a Thruway bus route between Phoenix and Maricopa, Arizona, that also stops in Tempe, a Phoenix suburb that is home to Arizona State University, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

All Aboard Arizona has lobbied Amtrak to increase the frequency of the Sunset Limited to daily operation and to restore service to Phoenix.

The cost of upgrading the route between Maricopa and Phoenix has been estimated to be at least $500 million.

If Brightline were to show an interest in establishing service in Arizona, Tifiletti said it would take three years to get the trails rolling.

Amtrak Station in Tucson

April 27, 2017

The streetside view of the former Southern Pacific station in Tucson, which is now used in part by Amtrak.

Last October I was  on vacation in Tucson, Arizona. I paid a visit to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, which uses a portion of the former Southern Pacific station.

Amtrak still uses the SP station, although it shares it with Maynard’s Market, a deli-type operation.

I was there on a Thursday and Amtrak’s Sunset Limited was not scheduled to operate in either direction. Tucson is still a staffed station with checked baggage service.

The size of the Amtrak facilities appear to be appropriate for the use that the station gets and the depot has been nicely restored.

The streetside entrance to the Amtrak station. The depot is located on Toole Street.

The exterior of the station as seen from the trackside view.

The Amtrak ticket office in the Tucson station.

Another angle of the Tucson ticket office.

One end of the waiting room. In the distance is the former CTC machine used by Southern Pacific dispatchers to control traffic on the Sunset Route.

The other end of the waiting room, which has a number of historic photographs on the wall. The ticket office is to the left and straight ahead.

The door to the platform as seen from inside the waiting room.

On the platform. The building on the other side of the tracks is the maintenance facility for the Tucson streetcar network.