Amtrak seeks federal funding to bring passenger rail back to Phoenix

Jun 7, 2023, 10:06 AM | Updated: 10:44 am

Photo of an Amtrak train. Amtrak has applied for federal funding to bring passenger rail service ba...

(Amtrak Photo)

(Amtrak Photo)

PHOENIX – Amtrak has applied for federal funding to bring passenger rail service back to Phoenix for the first time since 1996.

The company is seeking $716 million from the Federal Railroad Administration under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for 16 projects nationwide, including routing the Sunset Limited train line through Phoenix, the largest U.S. city without Amtrak service.

“It’s really, frankly, an embarrassment that we don’t serve such a major and prominent city,” Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said during a U.S. House subcommittee hearing on Tuesday.

The Sunset Limited runs between Los Angeles and New Orleans and has multiple stops in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana.

The closest it gets to Phoenix is Maricopa, about 40 miles to the south. The other Arizona stops are in Yuma, Tucson and Benson.

“Arizonans have wanted passenger train service between Phoenix and Tucson for decades, so there’s no surprise that this effort has significant local and state support,” Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Arizona) said during Tuesday’s hearing.

Stanton said passenger rail between the state’s two largest cities would relieve congestion on Interstate 10, reduce pollution and boost regional economies.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has provided $3.5 million toward the planning effort.

“As other communities have gained access to passenger rail, they’ve experienced significant new economic opportunities,” Stanton said. “But Arizona has missed out.”

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Amtrak seeks federal funding to bring passenger rail back to Phoenix