A Regional Vision...

July 19, 2014
Eastern Flyer Pilot Project Planned
Stillwater Central Wins Bid Process

-Tentative Month of Start is November 2014
-Six Month Pilot Project
-Two Times Daily Service



In May the Stillwater Central Railroad (SWLC) won a bid to acquire a 97.5-mile rail line stretching between Midwest City and Sapulpa. This line has been leased by the SWLC from the state of Oklahoma since 1998. Despite public pleas, the Oklahoma Transportation Commission (OTC) voted 8-0 to sell the railroad. Property closing is anticipated by July 31. To be eligible for consideration, all bidders were required to include a six month passenger rail pilot project trial description within their bid package.

The SWLC bid package, included intent to partner with Iowa Pacific Holdings to operate two daily Eastern Flyer passenger rail frequencies. According to the plan, trains will operate only between Sapulpa and Midwest City. Connecting motorcoach service will fill gaps at the rail terminals. From Sapulpa, motorcoach service will reach Bartlesville, The University of Tulsa, and Tulsa International airport. From the Midwest City connecting motorcoaches will reach Norman (The University of Oklahoma), Will Rogers World Airport and the state capitol.

Planning is expected to begin following property closing. While the bid package mentioned a November 2014 start, an Iowa Pacific official cautioned that the project design and startup date are highly tentative. Actual service could be deployed differently than listed in the bid package and possibly at a later date.

This is welcome news for many passenger rail supporters who see challenges to successful deployment. Passenger Rail Oklahoma hopes Iowa Pacific and SWLC are improving the plan. Our desire is to see the following:

1) Negotiation with the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad to gain Oklahoma City Santa Fe depot access
2) Legally verify that Iowa Pacific can operate into downtown Tulsa
3) Add a frequency to connect with the Heartland Flyer in Oklahoma City
4) Improve track to a condition allowing 60-mph passenger trains prior to startup, thus cutting travel times

While not mentioned in the bid package, fares are expected to be in the $30 round trip range. This was mentioned earlier this year by Iowa Pacific on KTOK radio.

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For More information about Passenger Rail Oklahoma
contact Evan Stair at EvanStair@PassengerRailOK.org

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