Which train works in the mountains? | VailDaily.com

Which train works in the mountains?

Alison Miller
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” When the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority first pitched their plan to bring heavy trains through Eagle County, and asked the board of commissioners to join the campaign for rail transportation, they were skeptical.

But a recent decision by the rail authority about what type of train to build along Interstate 70 has made the county commissioners re-think their decision. The authority also got rid of a $10,000 membership fee, County Commissioner Peter Runyon said.

Using bigger, heavier passenger cars that require heavy steel tracks similar to the ones cargo trains run on is not a viable solution to transport people through the mountains, Runyon said. He believes light rail ” or possibly a monorail ” is what the mountain counties need.

“From what I understand, our neighboring ski resort counties don’t like the idea of heavy rail either,” Runyon said. “I think what we need should be considered as much as anywhere else is.”

The rail authority has the final say in what type of train they will recommend be built in the region if voters approve a November 2008 tax increase for mass transportation, said the authority’s executive director, Bob Briggs.

“To do this, the whole state will be asked to fund it,” Briggs said. “This is an Interstate 70 and Interstate 25 plan for rail, and we have to do what makes sense for both corridors.”

The rail authority will begin a study in June to decide which type of train would work best along I-70, Briggs said. The study should be complete in spring of 2008, he said.

The Eagle County commissioners have not made an official decision to join the authority, but Runyon said he believes it “makes sense” to join and he believes the other two commissioners will agree.

“Transportation is something the commissioners are very passionate about,” Runyon said. “We just want to be sure we look at all the options and if the authority goes in a direction we don’t like we will withdraw our support.”

– Light rail: A more flexible rail system that uses electrically powered rail cars geared toward cities with 1 million to 3 million people. Light rail is usually associated with more frequent stops at stations.

– Heavy rail: A moderate-speed, passenger rail service that uses longer trains and less frequent stops than light rail.

– Monorail: Vehicles that run on a single rail, beam, or tube. Some examples are located in downtown Seattle, Washington and at Disneyworld. Monorail cars generally run 25 feet above the ground and are self-propelled by electric motors.

Staff writer Alison Miller can be reached at 748-2928 or armiller@vaildaily.com.

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