Sunday, March 25, 2007

Big Plans

Once again, my apologies for not posting to this blog as often as previously.

Plans for a commuter railroad that has many of the characteristics of an interurban or intercity operation keep rolling forward along the east face of the Rocky Mountains. I just finished an article from the Pueblo Chieftain
that talks about the plans for Passenger Rail on a north-south route through Denver and Pueblo.

We have blogged about this line in the past. It involves the vision and dream of two entities, the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority and the Colorado Rail Association. In its most basic form, the dream is to use existing right of way – a violation of the basic tenet “revamp nothing” – to schedule passenger service up and down the east slope with a north terminus in Wyoming and a south terminus in New Mexico. To this writer, this basic form alone makes this line an intercity route

This news article is the first in which we have seen an additional proposal to build a parallel freight line along a comparatively flat corridor in the eastern plains. Remember, you Eastern types, that the eastern plains are still high altitude, semi-arid and not as flat as central Illinois.

We suppose that adding the new freight line to the project will answer some of the objections the freight railroads would have to adding passenger trains to their tracks already operating at full capacity. In this case, the objectors would be the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific, owners of the so-called Joint Line between Denver and Pueblo (actually Trinidad, although with BNSF using Raton Pass as little as possible, the Pueblo-Raton segment sees little freight traffic).

This writer knows little about the attitude of the State of Wyoming towards this rail line. But Cheyenne and Laramie are closer to Denver than any point in New Mexico. Cheyenne is as close to Denver as Pueblo. We’d call the Wyoming people damnfools if they aren’t in favor of it. Cheyenne-Laramie to Pueblo makes a great little rail corridor with mileage and population on a par with San Luis Obispo-Los Angeles-San Diego and/or Chicago-Detroit.

We know that New Mexico – following its Governor and Presidentialist Bill Richardson – is in favor of it. (Presidentialist – noun – declared favorite-son presidential primary candidate with not a snowball’s chance of raising enough money to get the nomination, one of many candidates on the presidential list.) New Mexico already owns the BNSF Railway tracks and grade from Belen, NM through Raton to the border with Colorado. And we already have a train planned to go to Santa Fe from Belen. (Rail Runner, but not until 2010, probably.) But Santa Fe is more distant from Pueblo than Pueblo is from Denver, and there is a lot of nothing and slow mountain running between Raton and Santa Fe.

At least one of our blogs has dealt with the question of putting passengers on rail all the way from Santa Fe to El Paso and beyond.

CRA is shooting for an operational route by 2014-2015 when the Denver FasTracks is scheduled to begin.

Our next blog: How about a twist on this idea?

©2007 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, March 11, 2007

No Time For Everything

First, we want to apologize for not posting last Sunday. Other responsibilities have required that those activities resulting in the least overall return get the least amount of time. Frankly, folks, you ain't burnin' up the rails with responses to this blog.

We don't intend to stop, and if time and tide permit, we will post more than once a week.

We have noted that New Mexico Rail Runner continues to get good press and a lot of media exposure. The April issue of Trains is a good example. None of the comments in this blog should be interpreted as anything other than constructive criticism. We'd like to see it succeed and continue to grow.

Our bias is clearly showing when we criticize NMRX for choosing a freeway median of all places for its final climb into Santa Fe. (Does anyone know that Santa Fe is the highest altitude state capital in the United States?) If anyone is going to lay down new rail on new right of way for Passenger Rail, we would like it to be more scenic than between 4 lanes of freeway traffic. One of the older unusued rail grades into Santa Fe (on which we have previously commented) would have been much more scenic!

Last time, we tried to point out that, in its infancy at least, NMRX will be something of a tourist railroad as well as a commuter line, and more intercity interurban than urban-suburban. A more scenic line into Santa Fe would aid in ridership.

For anyone interested, this old blogger got most of his first steam railroad ridin' experience on a stretch of the then CB&Q three-track CTC line between Downtown Chicago and the suburban stop at 31st Street and Ridgeland Avenue in Berwyn (MP 9.0 - La Vergne). We are getting close to finishing a virtual representation of this line for the Trainz 2006 Railroad Simulator. (We have it finished up to about a mile and a quarter east of La Vergne.) Anyone interested in getting a copy to run on your simulator should send us an email at We should be able to email you an archive that you can load up using the Trainz 2006 program.

This is the current extent of our model railroading activities.

© 2007 - C. A. Turek -