Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Single Tracking to Save Cash

RTD in Denver while moving towards its goal of new rail lines is deciding to cut some of the budget on the west corridor by single tracking the western most section of the line. While this is making some folks in Golden a little worried about service levels, i'm sure that they will have the foresight to reserve the ROW for future expansion in order to facilitate expanded service should they decide to single track.

This is the way that Sacramento and San Diego went initially, later expanding to double track when the funding permitted. It should be considered in other settings as well for cost savings.
From the Rocky Mountain News:

The project originally included two tracks on that final segment. But in 2005, faced with cost increases, RTD decided to cut service on the outer leg to trains every 15 minutes instead of every five minutes. That allowed RTD to reduce the number of train cars it had to buy, saving more than $12 million.

Then last year, with costs still escalating sharply, RTD realized it could run 15-minute service on a single track west of the federal center by including a short passing track near Red Rocks Community College. The move saved another $33 million.

Jefferson County planners and commissioners objected, saying if RTD's ridership estimates are wrong and more growth occurs than anticipated, RTD would be locked into having inadequate track capacity to handle it.

Jeffco had asked RTD to consider running 10-minute trains, which would have required a second passing track.


kenf said...

Baltimore did this as well. And the later upgrading to double track was very disruptive.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

yeah, and they probably lost riders forever. It's not recommended to do it in order to fit into a tight space like they did. But if you have the ROW saved, then it would be more advantageous.

Christof said...

One thing Denver could do to make the later double-tracking pretty painless is to go ahead and include the track switches that the second track would connect to so that no tracks would need to be removed later.

kenf said...

That sounds almost too sensible for anyone to actually do it.

Mike said...

Question is - is Denver cheaping out by using existing track too? If so, the expense in double-tracking later is actually quite a bit higher than just doing it right from the beginning - because of the service disruption a la Baltimore and South Florida. (Ref: Austin idiots who think the commuter rail line can be double-tracked later - sure, it can, if you stop running trains completely for a couple of years).

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

No there are no existing tracks on the ROW.