ADtranz pitches Total Rail System to area rail officials |

ADtranz pitches Total Rail System to area rail officials

Allyn Harvey

If one corporate transportation giant has its way, local commuters will someday be riding comfortably up and down the valley in trains it builds and operates.

Representatives from DaimlerChrysler subsidiary ADtranz met Friday with board members from the Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority to pitch their wares and services – the Total Rail System. If RFRHA buys into the company’s program, everything from the design of the rail system, to its construction, to operations and maintenance will be handled by ADtranz.

Friday’s 90-minute presentation began with a company spokesman explaining why the Roaring Fork Valley is the right place for rail. Paul Giannelia told board members and a few other people in attendance at Carbondale Town Hall that the valley’s linear topography, coupled with public support for rail and rapid growth in the use of public transportation, make the time ripe for rail development.

Giannelia said the cost of running a train up and down the valley – excluding the cost of construction – is cheaper than either a bus or an automobile. The cost of operating, maintaining and replacing train equipment is 3.5 cents per person per mile, he said. But the corresponding cost is 6 cents for a bus and 8 cents for a car, according to statistics compiled by the federal government.

“The cost of building a train seems prohibitive,” Giannelia said, “but it wins hands down over the cost of building highway lanes.”

The system that Giannelia and his colleagues from ADtranz have in mind is a two-car configuration with a power train that can switch between diesel fuel and electric power. The GTW system has no locomotive. The engines are instead located in a “center power module” in each car.

The cars in the ADtranz GTW system can travel up to 75 mph. A single car can carry as many as 200 passengers.

The running time between West Glenwood Springs and Aspen would be 78 minutes if the trains run at 60 mph; the return trip would be about 10 minutes less, Giannelia said. It would take 58 minutes to get from Glenwood to Snowmass Village, 40 minutes from Carbondale to the Pitkin County airport, 14 minutes from El Jebel to Basalt, according to ADtranz estimates.

RFRHA board member Jim Markalunas said he thought it was important to cut the amount of time between Glenwood and Aspen. “The goal is to have the train time be competitive with cars,” Markalunas said. He added that it takes him about an hour and 10 minutes to get from Aspen to Glenwood.

The system that ADtranz has in mind would have 13 stations between West Glenwood and Aspen, with stops along the way in Carbondale, El Jebel, Basalt, Brush Creek and the Pitkin County Airport. The trains would stop for 30 seconds at the stations. They would spend 17 minutes at either terminal between runs.

Giannelia also noted that a side benefit of a rail system is its effects on growth. “Train stations reduce sprawl by collecting growth,” he said. “It happened here 100 years ago and it’s happening around the world where rail is in use.

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