Friday, December 04, 2009

TRAX celebrates 10 years; BNSF’s Orin Line turns 30

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Utah Transit Authority's TRAX light rail system will celebrate 10 years since its launch on Dec. 4, 1999.

The light rail system began with a single 15-mile north-south line connecting Sandy City to downtown Salt Lake City with more than 600,000 riders during its first month of operation. To date, TRAX has provided more than 110 million rides and now averages between 40,000 and 50,000 riders every weekday.

A second light rail line from downtown Salt Lake City to the University of Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium opened in December 2001, just prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics. During the two weeks of the Olympics, UTA carried more than four million Olympic riders. Additional light rail extensions opened to the University of Utah Medical Center in 2003 and Salt Lake Central station in 2008. UTA also introduced its first commuter rail line, FrontRunner, in 2008, which runs 44 miles from Salt Lake City north to Pleasant View.

As part of the FrontLines 2015 program, UTA will expand its passenger rail network more than 70 miles by 2015. Three new TRAX lines are currently under construction-to the Salt Lake International Airport, South Jordan,and West Valley City-with a fourth project to extend the north-south TRAX line further south into Draper, currently in the environmental study phase. UTA is also extending FrontRunner commuter rail 45 miles south from Salt Lake City to Provo.

In other milestone news, BNSF Powerder River Division employees celebrated the Orin Line's 30-year anniversary in honor of the first unit-coal train that traveled the 116-mile rail line across the Wyoming prairie on Nov. 6, 1979.

"For the last 30 years, we've seen incredible growth on the Orin Line," said Tom Albanese, general manager, Powder River Division. "Moving 40 trains per day in 1979 was considered a 'busy day.' Today, it's normal to handle more than 100 trains during a 24-hour period. Employees who were there on Day One were at the celebration, sharing stories about the many changes they have seen over the years and the impact the line will have for years to come."

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