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Ed Yeates ReportingThe driving of symbolic golden spikes today marked the official "laying down of steel rails" for the first commuter railroad along the Wasatch Front. Utah's congressional delegation, the Governor, commissioners, Union Pacific, UTA, and more were all there.
In less than three years - most likely sooner - commuters will be boarding brand new rail cars to commute between Salt Lake and Pleasant View, just north of Ogden. The cars Bombardier will build for UTA have plenty of room and are very comfortable. There's even a space to hold a meeting, and a table for laptops. There's a bathroom on each car and upper decks if you just want to sit and see the view.
Just like TRAX, an operator has control from either end of a car, but in this case, a diesel engine will be pushing or pulling the train. Though new, the cars already have a good track record. According to their French-Canadian makers these trains will take a long time to wear out.
Ray Metz, Bombardier Transportation: "The car will go a long, long time. I think the citizens here will see them around, I hope, for the next 30 to 50 years.
With new cab cars, combined with older vintage cars UTA got free of charge, UTA will have trains zipping along at about 80 miles per hour every 20 minutes during rush hours, on their own right of way, and stopping uniquely at ten car platform stations.
John Inglish, UTA General Manager: "Although we'll start service with maybe three or four car trains, ten car platforms, if we go to ten cars, we'll be able to handle twelve to fourteen hundred passengers on one trip."
Dignitaries drove, or nearly drove, symbolic golden spikes marking this official beginning, and as they did, Utah commuters were praised. Utah's congressional delegation says it was the ridership of mass transit here that convinced the Federal Government to invest in Utah's commuter future, even above other competing states.
Senator Bob Bennett: "The riders in Utah have made light rail and example for the rest of the nation."
Though Salt Lake to Ogden is the first phase, trains will eventually span between Payson and Brigham City. The target completion for this first phase is early 2008.