Link Utah

The first step in making a transit system that fits all of our needs is to fund a study that will give us a guide for solutions.

LinkUtah is a transportation initiative introduced by the Utah Rail Passengers Association that would bring state-sponsored Amtrak service to Utah connecting Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Front north to Logan, southeast to Grand Junction, and southwest to Cedar City with intermediate stations. Motor coach service would connect Cedar City to Saint George and Green River to Moab. Frequency is envisioned to be three round trips per day on each segment. 

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Why State-Sponsored Amtrak Service?

Currently transportation options in Utah outside of the Wasatch Front are limited to driving, flying, and some buses. Intercity passenger rail is presented as an option to increase the mobility choices of both Utah residents and visitors to Utah.

Why Amtrak?

There are multiple operational models for creating an intercity passenger rail system. However, few are feasible in the context of Utah’s near-term intercity transportation needs.

Building a new railway on a new right of way is what comes to mind for many people, when met with the concept of an intercity passenger rail system. In 2015, students from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah completed a study of high-speed passenger rail connecting Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. The proposal assumed conventional steel rails with electric trains powered by an overhead catenary system capable of traveling at up to 250 mph (400 km/h). The estimated travel time between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas would be just under 2 hours. While the study mostly overlooked transportation needs of those travelling within Utah, the cost estimate for the proposal sheds light on potential drawbacks of creating a new railway. The total just for constructing the new railway came to $14.4 billion. Simply stated, the long approval and construction time coupled with high cost push high-speed rail as an option for transportation within Utah decades into the future.

With the high cost of new rights of way, using existing railways and rights of way is the only remaining option. In 2010, the Guidebook for Implementing Passenger Rail Service on Shared Passenger and Freight Corridors was compiled under the direction of the Transportation Research Board. The guidebook details the best practices for utilizing existing railways and rights of way.

Utah is no stranger to using existing rights of way to construct passenger rail. The FrontRunner commuter rail line — owned and operated by the Utah Transit Authority — runs 82 miles (132 km) between Ogden and Provo in an existing right of way purchased from Union Pacific and parallels Union Pacific tracks.

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Get Involved

To help us Link Utah, please support Utah Rail Passengers Association with a financial donation or reach out to get involved. Our goal is to fund a study that will guide the next steps to fully linking Utah with sustainable transit options. Please contact us with any questions.

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