Sunday, January 07, 2007

Digging Out

The first week of the year seems not to have brought any significant Passenger Rail news.

The East (and Northeast in particular) is holding its own on speculation about the revival of passenger service in even the smallest hamlet. When New Englanders can't go skiing or ice fishing, they apparently fantasize about what life would be like with good Passenger Rail service.

The Intermountain West, meanwhile, is digging out of record-breaking El Nino snowfalls. We're also fantasizing about what life would be like with good Passenger Rail service.

Oddly enough, the West is closer to this than the East.

It seems like any reasonble proposal has grown legs and is walking, crawling, and in some cases running to fruition.

We had previously scheduled a post about the Colorado group that is advocating I-25 rail corridor service between Denver and Albuquerque. Though the idea at first glance seems a long shot, it has greater chance of becoming reality than rail service to the Poconos. Here's why:

There are obvious benefits at the north end. Colorado has the cash, and the citizens have the will. Major East Slope communities including Pueblo and Colorado Springs will be served. At the south end, there is the upstart New Mexico Rail Runner, and the state owns the railroad, all the freaking way to a connection with the freakin' best-run, if not busiest, Transcon in the country.

This writer has long proposed that New Mexico look at the benefits of a further connection all the way to El Paso, TX. The old Santa Fe ran a day train in this direction that wasn't all that badly patronized. It would have been better if the old Santa Fe hadn't, like all railroads of the pre-Amtrak era, been more interested in train-offs than in train-ons.

Whether most New Mexicans like it or not, the biggest population and employment center in the state is not Albuquerque or Santa Fe, it is the strip of Interstate 10 between El Paso and Las Cruces. And Las Cruces has railroad access that goes to Arizona and Beyond.

While we spend our days wondering if the old flat-roof adobe can hold all that snow, we can fantasize about a Passenger Rail network run by Colorado and New Mexico (hey, they already own the Cumbres & Toltec!) and including as it's terminal points Denver, El Paso, and Phoenix. God or the Union Pacific forbid, maybe even Yuma and San Antonio.

We local Southwesterners certainly would be able to train-it better than we can now with the miserably late Southwest Chief and the just miserable Sunset Limited.

Just day dreamin' in the snow!

© 2007 - C. A. Turek - mistertrains@gmail.com
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