PTC costs to shut Utah commuter line

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
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FrontRunner at Pleasant View station. Photo: An Errant Knight via Wikipedia

Transit officials in Utah plan to suspend services on a segment of commuter rail connecting the suburbs north of Salt Lake City, citing the prohibitive cost of complying with new federal safety rules mandating PTC (Positive Train Control).

FrontRunner commuter rail service to Pleasant View, with the lowest ridership in the Utah Transit Authority system, will indefinitely end in August.

The plan comes as tracks owned by Union Pacific that host FrontRunner operations are scheduled to be upgraded with Positive Train Control by December. The authority decided to halt operations, according to reports, and cited the prohibitive cost of upgrading equipment on trains using the line north of the Ogden FrontRunner station to Pleasant View, owned by Union Pacific Railroad.

The segment is one of the lightest-traveled of the system, stretching from Pleasant View south to Provo, carrying about 35 southbound passengers each day, according to UTA. The station sees two trains a day northbound, and four trains southbound. Traffic is restricted by an agreement with Union Pacific since the northern Weber County commuter line opened in 2008.

Operations are slated to stop Aug. 12.

The authority eventually wants to acquire its own right-of-way to build a line from Ogden north to Pleasant View, as well as to expand north to Brigham City in Box Elder County.

Plans are being considered for possible bus service to replace the trains from Pleasant View.

The report said UTA, which will spend $35 million on its network to comply with PTC rules, estimated the cost of upgrades to locomotives and cab cars and the Ogden-Pleasant View track at $1.4 million. It would cost another $285,000 per year in operating and maintenance costs, without being able to increase the frequency of service to Pleasant View to boost ridership.

Categories: C&S, Class I, Commuter/Regional, Freight, Passenger, PTC Tags: , ,