Amtrak unveils plans for passenger service between Phoenix, Tucson

Jul 28, 2021, 12:56 PM | Updated: 2:29 pm
(Amtrak Photo)...
(Amtrak Photo)
(Amtrak Photo)

PHOENIX – Passenger rail service between Phoenix and Tucson could be available multiple times a day in the near future under Amtrak’s expansion proposal.

With support from mayors of 11 Arizona cities, including six in the Valley, Amtrak said Tuesday in a virtual roundtable it wants to line up a three-times-daily roundtrip that could begin service in as little as three years.

Prospective stations would be located in Phoenix (one at Sky Harbor Airport, another downtown), Buckeye, Goodyear-Avondale, Tempe and Queen Creek.

The train service would add the Phoenix-Tucson trip to a wish list of 160 new communities and 39 more routes put on the map over the next 15 years.

The Phoenix-Tucson trip is listed at 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Led by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, the city officials wrote Arizona’s congressional delegation in mid-July urging the group to back the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which has funding for the project.

Senators and the White House were working furiously this week to salvage the deal, with pressure intensifying on all sides to wrap up talks on President Joe Biden’s top priority.

Despite weeks of closed-door discussions, several issues are still unresolved over the nearly $1 trillion package.

Phoenix is the largest city in the contiguous United States that doesn’t have passenger train service. The station was shut down in the 1990s; the closest Amtrak comes to the Valley is a stop in Maricopa, about 30 miles south.

The letter to Arizona’s 11 federal senators and House representatives said, “Frequent and reliable passenger rail service will expand economic opportunities and provide important regional connections between our cities and towns.

“Amtrak has made clear its commitment to working in a collaborative manner with the state and local partners to grow the national rail network, and we look forward to this partnership.”

Kenneth Weise of Avondale, Kevin Hartke of Chandler, Georgia Lord of Goodyear, Jerry Weiers of Glendale and John Giles of Mesa were the remaining Valley mayors who signed the letter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Amtrak unveils plans for passenger service between Phoenix, Tucson