Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Fantasy: “Trial passenger train service to start next year, linking Tulsa and OKC metros”

Story: Trial passenger train service to start next year, linking Tulsa and OKC metros – KJRH.com.

So much fantasy.

I’ll cover the background here and will post a follow-up “soon” with the passenger-related fantasy story.

The “Sooner Sub” — a subdivision being part of a railroad division usually covering a single line — was once the main line of the St Louis-San Francisco Railway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City.  The SLSF was better known as the Frisco, of course, though it never made it to one of its namesake towns.  In 1980, the Frisco was merged into the Burlington Northern RR.  The BN merged with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Ry in 1996 to become the  Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Ry (since shortened to “BNSF“, presumably to save on paint).

By 1998, the BNSF no longer had use for the segment of the line from Salpulpa to Midwest City and they sold it to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.  ODOT, in turn, leased it to Watco Transportation Services, a Kansas-based shortline holding company with over 30 railroads.  One of those railroads is the Stillwater Central which operated the line from the time it was sold.  ODOT owns many rail lines in the state that would otherwise have been abandoned as traffic patterns and corporations changed.  ODOT ownership preserves the lines which has preserved rail access for many farmers in the state.

I have no idea of the specifics, but at some point ODOT  decided to sell the line.  My guess is that BNSF made it known that they’d like to have the line back.  “Why”, you ask, “would they want it back?”

The price of most crude oil in the US is set at Cushing, Oklahoma, of all places. When you hear a price quote for a barrel of oil it is usually the price that a producer gets when that oil is delivered to the tank and pipeline wonderland known as Cushing.

Cushing hasn’t had direct rail service in decades but Stroud, Oklahoma, is pretty close by and the Sooner Sub runs through town along what used to be Route 66.  There is a small railroad oil terminal there with a pipeline to Cushing.  Oil has been delivered to Stroud to move to the terminal for many years.

Once oil hit $100/bbl a few years back, and it became profitable to use unconventional techniques to extract oil (think hydraulic fracturing), there was a lot of oil moving to Cushing.  Since the Bakken Formation in and near North Dakota has no pipelines, BNSF, the major railway in the area, has been awash in oil.  The railway has been running crude oil unit trains from there to various points as fast as it can for the last several years.

To get back to the story, a year or so back, ODOT invited bids to buy the line.  Both WATCO and BNSF submitted bids.  I’ll continue this in Part Deux, but, spoiler alert, BNSF didn’t win.

This was post number 100, by the way.

Bullet Train Plan Sparks North Texas Turf War, by Aman Batheja

photo by: Norihiro Kataoka

Story: Bullet Train Plan Sparks North Texas Turf War, by Aman Batheja.

Another on the Texas passenger train idea.  I’ve had this in the buffer for a while and just noticed it again now.

Two quotes amuse me:

“[…] this latest plan to make passenger rail work in highway-loving Texas.”

“Highway-loving Texas.”  Let’s see what there is for them to love.

There are several thousand miles of expressway in Texas, most of which can be used at no direct cost to the user, 24 hours per day, every day of the year.

There are three intercity trains in Texas.  One of the trains runs from Chicago to San Antonio via Longview, Dallas, and Ft Worth once per day in each direction.  Three days a week, you can connect in San Antonio with a train that makes it’s way from New Orleans to Los Angeles via Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso.  There is another daily train that connects at Ft Worth for Norman and OKC.

So if a Texan wanted to love a train instead, they wouldn’t have much opportunity, would they?  I maintain that so many people drive in Texas because they have no other rational choice.  The same is true in most of the rest of the country, of course.

The other is this:

““It is, at the moment, considered to be a 100 percent privately financed venture, so in some respects, we may be limited to what our authority is,” [NTCOG senior program manager Tom] Shelton said.”

It’s a 100% privately financed venture as someone just said. What makes government officials think they have any authority? Yes, there are land-use regulations through which they can exercise some control, but if the company thinks it will make more sense to have a station in Waxahachie instead of Ft Worth, then that’s where they’re going to put their station.

Number of (Ped, Cycle) Crashes by Location 2007-2011

Excerpt from ACOG Cyclist Crash Map

Number of Bicycle-Related Crashes by Location 2007-2011.

ACOG Pedestrian Crash Map

Number of Pedestrian-Related Crashes by Location 2007-2011.

ACOG is doing some nice work with ArcGIS Online. Two examples.  Click through to get the interactive versions.