Rail for Arizona

Two Amtrak trains serve Arizona: The Southwest Chief traverses Northern Arizona, serving Winslow, Flagstaff, Williams (where connections with Grand Canyon Railway are available), and Kingman. The Sunset Limited crosses Southern Arizona, serving Benson, Tucson, Maricopa, and Yuma. Arizona Shuttle provides frequent bus connections between Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff.

These types of rail systems exist, are planned, or should be built in Arizona:

  • Light Rail and Modern Streetcars in the metro Phoenix and Tucson areas;
  • Commuter Rail within the metro Phoenix and Tucson areas;
  • Regional Rail connecting metro areas throughout Arizona;
  • Intercity Rail connecting Arizona cities and towns with other States.

Close integration of rail systems with public transportation such as city bus systems is key.

Progress Report – Winter 2016

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is concluding a study of the feasibility of a passenger rail line between Phoenix and Tucson.  ADOT has submitted draft environmental assessment findings relating to three route alternatives to the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Transit Administration: One alternative would run along Interstate 10 between the two metropolitan areas; the second would serve the East Valley and share part of its alignment with the planned North-South Freeway Corridor; and the third would also serve the East Valley but share right of way with Union Pacific Railroad. All three alternatives would run along I-10 south of Eloy in to Tucson.

ADOT has been working closely with the Federal Railroad Administration and other federal agencies, as well as local governments and planning organizations in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties to determine which routes will move forward for further study. To support that effort, a Draft Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement has been prepared. The decision to pursue the alternatives in the Draft Tier 1 EIS came not only from technical evaluations, but was also largely based on public and agency input. During the last four years of the study, more than 10,000 people across Arizona have completed surveys to weigh in with their ideas of which routes best served their communities.

The proposed passenger rail line will be designed as a blended service: An express service would have few stops between Tucson and Phoenix, and a local service would stop at several communities along the way.  For more information visit ADOT's Phoenix-Tucson Passenger Rail Web site.

Commuter Rail Authority Bill Introduced. SB 1304 (commuter rail authority; special district) would add a new chapter to Title 48 (special taxing districts) authorizing local governments to establish a joint powers commuter rail authority.  The bill was introduced by the Assistant Minority Leader, Senator Steve Farley (D - Tucson) and is assigned to Transportation, Finance, and Rules.  Co-sponsors were Senator Andrea Dalessandro (D - District 2) and Representative Mark A. Cardenas (D - District 19).  Click here for a copy of the bill.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has published a Technical Background Report for the Southwest Multi-State Rail Planning Study.  According to the FRA, the Southwest  Study is the first high-performance rail (HPR) network planning study led by the agency. FRA initiated the SW Study concurrent with its national rail planning effort to develop a national toolkit for the conceptual planning of HPR networks at the multi-state and mega-regional level. The national toolkit includes a newly developed CONceptual NEtwork Connections Tool (CONNECT), which can help analyze the performance of HPR corridors and networks.  A copy of the Report may be obtained from this FRA Web site.


Light Rail






Commuter Rail






Regional Rail






Intercity Rail






Bus Transit