Infrastructure bill could make Phoenix-to-Tucson passenger rail possible

Nov 15, 2021, 4:45 AM | Updated: 12:00 pm

(Facebook photo/Amtrak)...

(Facebook photo/Amtrak)

(Facebook photo/Amtrak)

PHOENIX — The $1 trillion infrastructure bill that U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona helped negotiate could help pay for a passenger rail service that would connect Phoenix and Tucson, making it easier to travel back and forth.

Amtrak in July released an expansion proposal detailing a passenger rail service between the two cities that could begin service in as little as three years. The company wants to offer three round-trips per day between Phoenix and Tucson, with the trip taking 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Sinema noted in a call with Arizona reporters last week that the bill includes funding for a national network of freight and passenger rail lines.

“So not only are we building up and supporting the freight network, which is an important part of Arizona’s commerce … but this also provides an opportunity for us to create a new rail for passengers that would connect Phoenix and Tucson together,” the Democratic senator said.

“It’s certainly part of the mix as we move forward in talking about what that national network looks like,” she added. “Voters in Arizona can be assured that I’ll be knocking on the door of Amtrak and our federal agencies to ensure that Arizona receives every penny of its fair share so that we also are benefiting from both freight and passenger rail.”

After passing with bipartisan support in Congress, President Joe Biden was expected to sign the infrastructure bill into law Monday. It includes $66 billion for Amtrak to invest in the passenger rail system.

Amtrak’s CEO Bill Flynn said in a recent interview with Axios and HBO that it would be the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak’s creation 50 years ago.

He also mentioned it would help expand passenger rail service to areas in the U.S. where there are few or no routes.

“Phoenix to Tucson is a great example,” Flynn said.

Prospective stations would be located in Phoenix, Buckeye, Goodyear-Avondale, Tempe and Queen Creek.

The proposal has the support of city leaders.

Mayors of 11 Arizona cities, led by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, wrote a letter to Arizona’s congressional delegation in mid-July urging them to back Amtrak’s vision to bring passenger rail to the state.

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Infrastructure bill could make Phoenix-to-Tucson passenger rail possible