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With a new administration in D.C., it's time to think outside of the box because passenger rail's survival just may depend on it

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tackling the Headlines 81

Denver opens its first commuter rail line
Just four hours ago, the University of Colorado A Line, which runs from Union Station to the airport, marks the first time since the last Rio Grande Zephyr pulled in on April 23, 1983 that Union Station will have more than one rail tenant in accordance to the FRA's 49 CFR 238/239 portion covering intercity and commuter trains.

Take: Once all of the RTD commuter lines are up and running, the next steps taken should be as follows:
1. Provide a regional (read, intercity) rail system that serves Cheyenne, Ogden, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, Pueblo, and Albuquerque
2. Congress has to force Title XI Subtitle C Section 205 of the FAST Act to allow overnight competition which may be better for the Mile High City than the regional system in the long term

Amtrak discontinuing its timetables
Take #1: If the company were actually serious about expansion, it wouldn't be doing this. If those in Washington were serious about providing competition to Amtrak, the company wouldn't be doing this.

Take #2: Now, if other states follow Indiana's lead or break away from Amtrak altogether combined with even limited long distance competition, these entities (likely AIPRO members, regional/shortline railroads, and some foreign operators) could develop their own timetable. Thanks to the Saratoga & North Creek, such a timetable independent of Amtrak could already be developed since that railroad connects to Amtrak in upstate New York.

NYC MTA leaves the APTA
Take: This is big. If more of the major systems follow, then, the APTA could be reduced to representing small and midsized transit agencies.