April 5, 2011,
Colorado Springs, Colorado:
Welcome to the Rockies Section of SubwayNut.com, dedicated to the three light rail, two commuter rail, one urban monorail, and the four cross-country Amtrak lines that call the eight state Rocky Mountain Region as designated by the US census bureau home. I, Jeremiah Cox, your webmaster, have released this new section of in conjunction with my research on "Rockies Infrastructure in Decline" from last summer that has just been published in the 2011 State of the Rockies Report Card. The report card (that I co-wrote with a fellow undergraduate student, Anna Johnson) is available here and our section appears on pages 56 to 89. I hope you enjoy reading about the history of and infrastructure needs facing this vast, sparsely populated, growing region.
To put in perspective just how small the regions total population is compared to New York — the main emphasis of this website so far, although my overall goal is photographing every rail station in North America, we will see how far I get with Amtrak — as of the 2010 census was 19,301,556 almost exactly the same as New York State's 19,378,102. Every states individual population is significantly lower than the City of New York's 8 million people; the closest state is Arizona with 6 million. Wyoming, the smallest state in the country population wise with 563,626, is just slightly bigger population wise than Staten Island and 958 times the size! Geographically the region is 773,940 square miles of land big enough to comfortably fit the land of New York State 16 times and New Jersey 89 times! The region is home to five booming metropolitan areas each with rail transit although they are all really new. For intercity travel except by air there are relatively few options with just the four transcontinental Amtrak routes crossing the region, and intercity bus service is expensive and infrequent, there is just not enough demand for the huge and ultra-competitive operations we now have in the northeast. (See pages asdf to asdf of the report card for more information).
Another interesting phenomenon is in the modern era there was were not any rail based mass transit service in the region since the last streetcar ran in Fort Collins on June 30, 1951 . Rail based transit has only returned to the region in the past two decades and with the exception of the initial 5 miles long Central Light Rail segment of the Denver Light Rail that opened in 1994, all other new mass transit rail lines in the region have only opened in the past decade (Salt Lake City's began in December 1999). In this decade a total of 73 miles of light rail (92 stations) have opened and 125 miles (with 20 stations) of Commuter Rail have begun operations. The Las Vegas Monorail was also built out to its present length of 4 miles (with 7 stations) in 2004. It is a cross between a tourist attraction and an actual transit system. There are also tourist heritage streetcar systems and tourist trains that operate in the region (whose role on this website I am still undecided about). For example, in the streetcar world, first the Fort Collins, Colorado Municipal Railway restarted operations in December 29, 1984, the Platte Valley Trolley in Denver started operations in 1989 and the Old Pueblo Trolley in Tucson, Arizona (that is being upgraded to a 4 mile long modern streetcar) opened in April, 1993. These all operate primarily on weekends to serve shoppers and visitors.
Well without further ado, here are the main transit systems presently in operation in the region:
Sections are still being updated from time to time, please see the latest updates on Leave No Station Unphotographed, the blog of this website
- Colorado Front Range (Denver):
||RTD Denver Light Rail
The existing Denver Light Rail Line, which uses Siemens SD-100 and SD-160 LRVs started opening in stages in 1995, it is currently 39 miles long with 36 stations, the largest in the region. It runs from Downtown Denver to two corridors in the Southwest and Southeast portions of the region to Nine Mile, Lincoln, and Littleton. The line uses city streets in downtown and follows freight railroad or highway right-of-ways to its branches. The FastTracks initiative is currently drastically expanding the system with 12 new miles of Light Rail out to Golden, and a 23.6 mile long Electric-Multiple Commuter Rail Line to Denver International Airport. They are also in the advanced planning stages for building 16 new miles of light rail, 11 more miles of EMU commuter rail, and 70 miles of Diesel Commuter Rail.
section is still a bit of a work in progress. I expect to have it finished with all stations photographed and up on the web by the end of April, after I have a chance to go back up to Denver, to get the best coverage possible
- Las Vegas Region, Nevada:
|The Las Vegas Monorail
Only the Sin City would build a monorail completely without government subsidies. The 3.9 mile long line through the strip that was completed in 2004 has gone bankrupt. This has put extension plans, particularly out to the Las Vegas Airport on hold. It uses Bombardier Mark VI trainsets, inspired by those at Walt Disney World
- Northern New Mexico (Santa Fe & Albuquerque):
|New Mexico Rail Runner Express
The Rail Runner Express is a 97 mile long commuter rail line! (for my east coast readers the only single line in the New York City Area that is longer is the LIRR Montauk Branch which is 117 miles long) It runs between Belen, south of Albuquerque, up to Santa Fe, being completed between 2006 and 2008. A trip that takes about two hours and fifteen minutes (averaging 43mph). The line presently has 12 open stations but is planning to add two more. The line runs most of its about 8 weekday trips (some don't serve the entire line) during peak commuting hours but provides some off peak service. On Saturdays there are 4½ round-trips, Sundays two. It uses new Bombardier BiLevel Rail Cars and MPXpress Locomotives.Note: This section is still a slight bit of a work in progress. I have not had a chance to upload the photos I took from a trip there (visiting 8 of 10 stations) a few weeks ago, stay tuned for extensive coverage
- Arizona's Sun Corridor (Phoenix):
|Valley Metro Light Rail
This quite new 20-mile, 32 stop light rail system opened on December 27, 2008 at its current length. It runs between Phoenix and Tempe, with a one-stop into Mesa. The line uses custom built (with quite tinted windows) Kinki Sharyo Low-Floor LRVs and runs almost entirely in the central medians of city streets in its own exclusive ROW. Extension plans for the line are currently on hold due to funding scarcities. The line's stations are some of the most unique I have been too, designed to provide primarily shade in the desert environment. All station platforms also include a water fountain.This section is complete with every station photographed and over 600 photos!
- Utah's Wasatch Front (Salt Lake City-Ogden):
||TRAX Light Rail
This is a 19 mile long light rail line with two branches and 28 stations that connect Downtown Salt Lake City with Sandy to the south, and the University. It started opening in 1999. The northern part of the line runs down the median of streets, while the southern branch to Sandy is on a private ROW. The TRAX has incredibly three different types of rolling stock: SD-100s and SD-160s High-Floor, and Urban Transit Development Corporation high floor Light Rail Vehicles that were built in 1987 for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Light Rail but were sold to UTA in 2003. The system is currently being expanded: This August 15.7 miles of extensions and 13 new stations will open. With another six miles of extensions under construction.
Every Station of this system presently in operation has been photographed with about 300 pictures!
||FrontRunner Commuter Rail
This is a 44-mile long Commuter Rail Line with 8 stations. The line, opened in April 2008, connects Salt Lake City with Ogden to the north and five stops in between with frequent hourly, or half-hourly during rush hours commuter rail service, along dedicated tracks that are parallel to Union Pacific's Line. In addition two trains each rush hour are extended along the UP's tracks to Pleasant View. This train system uses both Bombardier BiLevels and Ex-New Jersey Transit Comet I's. Motive Power is provided by MPXpress MP36PH-3C Locomotives. It is currently being extended another 44 miles to the south and to Provo completed hopefully in 2012.
Six of eight stations on this Commuter Rail Line have been photographed with over 80 pictures!
- Amtrak in the Rockies Region:
The four cross-country Amtrak Trains all Pass Through the Region at some point on their trips. The region has no regional services:
- The Empire Builder: This train is the lifeblood of northern Montana passing through the region daily in each direction on its run between Chicago and the Portland and Seattle. Read my case study about the line in the report card and my trip report from Summer 2006.
Stops in the region: Sandpoint, ID|Libby, MT|Whitefish, MT|West Glacier, MT|Essex, MT|East Glacier Park, MT (Summer Months)|Browning, MT|Cut Bank, MT|Shelby, MT|Havre, MT|Malta, MT|Gasglow, MT|Wolf Point, MT
- The California Zephyr: Amtrak's longest train line crosses through the hart of the region on its way from Chicago to the Bay Area. Read a trip report on the eastern plains portion as far as Denver in 2008. I hope to finally have a trip report of the portion through the Rockies themselves written up soon, I have ridden the line there.
Stops in the region: Reno, NV|Winnemucca, NV|Elko, NV|Salt Lake City, UT|Provo, UT|Helper, UT|Green River, UT|Grand Junction, CO|Glenwood Springs, CO|Granby, CO|Fraser-Winter Park, CO|Denver, CO: Union Station (closed for construction from 2011 to 2014), Temporary Station|Fort Morgan, CO
- The Southwest Chief: Amtrak's fastest transcontinental train passes straight through the less Mountainous deserts of Eastern Colorado New Mexico and Arizona on its run from Chicago to Los Angeles. See Trip report from ride only from Albuquerque to Flagstaff
Stops in the region: Kingman, AZ|Williams Jct, AZ|Flagstaff, AZ|Winslow, AZ|Gallup, NM|Albuquerque, NM|Lamy, NM|Las Vegas, NM|Raton, NM|Trinidad, CO|La Junta, CO|Lamar, CO
- The Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle: Amtrak's most subsidized, least profitable train crosses the extreme southern boarder of the region tri-weekly in each direction. The train mainly the Sunset Limited runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles, a few cars from the Texas Eagle are attached in San Antonio. See Trip report from midnight ride from Tucson to Los Angeles
Stops in the region: Yuma, AZ|Maricopa, AZ|Tucson, AZ|Benson, AZ|Lordsburg, NM|Deming, NM
Last Updated: 16 January, 2010
This website is not affiliated with The Colorado College or The State of the Rockies Project it is entirely the work of your webmaster, Jeremiah Cox
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