Utah’s FrontRunner Inaugural Report and PHOTOS

By John Dornoff, RailPAC Associate Director/InterMountainRail.org

The Inaugural run of Utah’s new FrontRunner communter rail service took place starting at the historic Ogden train station on Saturday, April 28, 2008.

I was invited to ride this special train, along with dignitaries, guest speakers, and UTA officials. It was cold in Ogden that morning, but it was warm by the time the big ceremony was held at the plaza of the new Salt Lake Central Station. Intermediate stops were made at Roy, Clearfield, Layton, Farmington, and Woods Crossing stations.

Inaugural train at the new Salt Lake City station.
If you look behind the train’s right you will see the beginning of the new Amtrak platform that is not only a fair walk from the station that is directly to the FrontRunner’s left, but much farther away from the rest of the intermodal depot which is behind the photographer. The new transit center also includes the new TRAX light rail extension, but also Greyhound bus service and UTA buses.

John Inglish, head of UTA, addresses the crowd.
Two FrontRunner locomotives are nose-to-nose behind the speaker’s platform, to recreate the moment from 139 years ago up the road at Promomtory where the first transcontinental trains met for the Golden Spike ceremony. Note the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains in the distance.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) exits the Motive Power MPX locomotive number 5.
According to the Deseret News Senator Hatch said the evolution of transit in Utah was setting a standard for other states to follow and that “people brag about us that you don’t even know about.”

(l-r) John Inglish, Orin Colby and other UTA officials accept a check for $78 million for FrontRunner construction from Senators Hatch and Robert Bennett (R-UT).
Senator Bennett told the crowd, “In the time I’ve been in the Senate we’ve added 900,000 people to the population of this state…that’s a lot of mass. If we don’t solve our transportation problems, we will strangle on our own growth.” UTA has made the right steps, starting with TRAX and now the FrontRunner is a vision we must applaud.” It is projected that 5 million people will live along the Wasatch front between Ogden and Salt Lake City.

FrontRunner revenue service begins on Thursday, May 1. The new TRAX extension begins on Monday, May 5.

All photos by the author.