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Exploring Options for Tucson-Phoenix Rail

Brightline, a private train operator, is an intriguing option for train service to some rail advocates.
December 26, 2018, 12pm PST | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Tucson, Arizona
Tim Roberts Photography

Rail advocates argue that Phoenix and Tucson need daily rail transit between the two cities. Early examinations of the idea determined that a $6 billion dollar investment could build the service. "The problem with that plan has to do with the Arizona Constitution. Article 9, Section 14 states that money generated from fees, taxes or the use of vehicles on highways and streets must be spent on the highways and streets," Shaq Davis reports for the Arizona Daily Star.

Amtrak runs a once-every-three-days service from Maricopa to Tucson, but lacks the infrastructure to complete the trip. "Amtrak would need approval for increased capacity on the rail line from Union Pacific Corp., which operates it. What halted the change is the asking price to upgrade the track and restore it between Maricopa and Phoenix, which hasn’t been used in 20 years. The cost was determined to be at least $500 million," Davis writes. Some in the region are promoting a private option. Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, is the only private passenger rail service in the country, operating in Florida. All Aboard Arizona hopes to convince them to consider the Tucson-to-Phoenix corridor on a future next project.

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Published on Monday, December 17, 2018 in Arizona Daily Star
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