Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rail traffic could shift from coal to passenger trains

Coal drives rail traffic between the Southwest Chief depot in Trinidad and Denver, Colorado also through Edgemont, South Dakota, Gillette, Wyoming and Laurel, Montana.

Up til now it's been easy money for Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
Rumors circulating around the community about Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) possibly eliminating its current Edgemont stop appear to be true, according to a statement from BNSF, issued Monday, March 14. One report listed 2,000 railroad job cuts during 2015 as railroad companies, including BNSF, Union Pacific and the Canadian National Railway, tried to cushion earnings slumps thanks to declining amounts of grain, oil and coal being shipped. [Hot Springs Star]
There is a rich history of rail travel between Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming even on to Deadwood.

Wyoming highway 59 between Douglas and Gillette is killing people and strangling traffic: passenger rail would bring some order to that chaos. BNSF Railway's Burlington Route connects Cheyenne with Laurel, Montana just west of Billings where it intersects with Montana Rail Link.
BNSF Railway is proposing changes to its operations in Sheridan in response to the declining demand for coal. Company officials indicated in a statement that the changes will likely include shifting Sheridan crew jobs to Gillette over time. The proposed changes also include having Gillette replace Sheridan as the home terminal for trains that run between Gillette and Laurel, Montana. [Casper Star]
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe has strong rail connecting Laurel and Great Falls with Amtrak's Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) wants to restore the Hiawatha Line and a Montana legislator wants BNSF to rebuild that track, too.

Imagine a time when portions or all track is elevated for wildlife egress through a future corridor between the Canadian River in New Mexico and the Amtrak station in Shelby then on to the Yukon River in Alaska intersecting with a tunnel under the Bering Strait connecting South and North America to Russia.

As coal dies and more commodities are being shipped by trucks burning cheaper fuel flowing through pipelines the timing for increased passenger rail is at hand. Curious why the Postal Service and Amtrak have not formed a strategic partnership.

It's time for Amtrak to connect the Empire Builder with the Southwest Chief through Denver perhaps integrating New Mexico's Rail Runner in the interim.

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