Amtrak President Stephen Gardner joined with CEO Bill Flynn to announce on July 27, 2021, that new passenger rail service will begin that will connect Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona along with several other cities. Currently Phoenix is the largest city in the continental United States without passenger rail service. Funding for the new service is included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill working its way through Congress.
Gardner noted that the mayors of 11 Arizona cities have written Congress to request the service. He said that the service would relieve congestion on a heavily used portion of Interstate Highway 10. He said that the new train service would dramatically reduce carbon emissions and increase safety on the corridor.
The service, which will begin in about three years, would use diesel multiple unit trainsets. These are a type of self-propelled rail cars, usually operated in groups of three or four cars, that do not require a separate locomotive.
Regional Economic Impact
“These are the second and third fastest-growing cities in the US,” said Tucson mayor Regina Romero, “It’s time for our state to catch up.”
Romero said that this service will have a major impact on the economy in Tucson, Phoenix and the rest of Arizona. She also noted that it will improve the quality of life in the region by reducing the carbon footprint of the area, and encouraging business growth.
“Passenger rail will facilitate the options in terms of companies operating locations in the area,” Romero said. She also noted that it will improve business with nearby locations in Nogales, Mexico by providing access to Arizona’s Sun Corridor and by providing easy access to Los Angeles.
Currently, Tucson is served by two long-distance Amtrak trains three times per week.
According to Gardner, the frequency of these trains is set to be increased to daily service. The new Arizona service would start in Buckeye, which is west of Phoenix, and would pass through downtown Phoenix and the Phoenix airport, eventually meeting with the Amtrak long-distance services in Tucson. The trains serving Tucson are the Sunset Limited and the Texas Eagle. The Southwest Chief serves Arizona via Flagstaff, but is not part of the announcement.
This article originally appeared on Forbes