posted 19 April 2001
InterRail supports the efforts to bring about a Spokane to Denver rail service. This rail service will provide much needed service throughout the Intermountain West. This train would service the southern part of Montana, which is also the most populated, along with providing an important link from Montana down to Denver. This is an area that has seen the quality of air and bus service go down and the prices go through the roof. The time for alternatives is at hand and this train would be a vital link.
However, to make the train truly successful, modifications need to be made. First of all, the train needs to be, an integrated part of the long distance network. The train needs to have useful connections to make it work. The train should terminate in either Portland or Seattle, not in Spokane. This can be facilitated either by running the train as part of the Empire Builder or as a separate train if the times in Spokane will not allow a connection with the Builder. This will allow connections to Oregon, California and into Canada via the Cascade service or connecting busses.
The train also needs to have connections in Denver. At first this would be connecting service on the California Zephyr. However in the long run the train could run through cars on InterRails proposed Texas Zephyr service to Dallas and Houston. This will allow connections both from the south and from the east as well.
Not only will connections help this train, but increase the market penetration of other rail routes. Of course this also assumes enough equipment so that trains are showing their true potential and not the limited potential being shown due to the lack of long distance cars.
That brings us to the last point about this proposed train; there is no equipment right now to service this train. One possibility to get this train started would be to refurbish the high level cars and 10/6 sleepers that are currently sitting at Beach Grove. This would have the train run with some high level coaches, a high level diner (which where converted to diner-lounges in the 80's) and the 10/6 sleepers. This at least would allow the train to be started and is about the only hope that currently exists to start the train at the present time. What it comes down to is that our rail passenger system needs long distance cars now!
Yes, we need more long distance trains. We also need long distance trains that are going to be an economic success. We also need enough long distance cars that we can expand our long distance network. Put them all together, and we start to have a long distance network of which we can all be proud.
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