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Onward to Springville, Utah 10/5-6/2021

by Chris Guenzler

10/5/2021 Elizabeth and I woke up at the Clarion Hotel and after our morning preparations we had breakfast at the Village Inn next door. While Elizabeth did our laundry, I wrote the Leadville story. After the laundry was finished, we loaded the car and while Elizabeth checked out, I put petrol in our car. I started driving then Elizabeth discovered I had left my memory card in the computer so we stopped at the Utah Welcome Center and I retrieved it and took a picture of the sign here.

Welcome to Utah Life Elevated sign. We acquired a Utah state map and headed to Arches National Park and saw a westbound Union Pacific coal train.

A view on the way to Arches National Park. Upon our arrival, we found it was closed due too many cars in the park since they have limited parking spaces. I was quite mad that I had driven thirty-nine miles and could not even see one arch but there was nothing we could do.

An interesting rock formation on the way back to the interstate.

The view before Interstate 70 and the westbound drive to Green River for a lunch at Arby's. After lunch I was in a better mood and I drove toward Price.

Views of the Book Cliffs as well as the former Denver and Rio Grande Western tracks. Later, we saw that same westbound train at Grassy taking the curve. I drove into Price and we checked into the Ramada Inn for the night, then relaxed and then later went for dinner at JB's Restaurant. Upon our return, I checked the Internet before writing this part of the story and Elizabeth caught up on her things and a television program, after which we called it an early night.

10/06/2021 We awoke this morning in Price and had the hotel's hot breakfast then made our departure, thinking it would be a normal trip over Soldier Summit. Boy, were we wrong. Just below Castle Gate, there was a river of water and mud with rocks in it which had very recently started. We turned around and drove east and just as we slowed for more water and yuck on the road, a semi truck came flying by, covering our car in mud and I had to avoid the rocks on the road. We continued back east to Price where we started a ninety-mile detour instead of waiting. We took Utah Highway 19 south to Huntington where we paused to clean the windows of the mud and I cleaned the brake lights. We turned west onto Utah Highway 31 and we were amazed at the views along this highway.

View westbound along Utah Highway 31, including a dusting of snow as we were at 9,655 feet elevation, after which we pulled off at a viewpoint.

Autumn colors from the viewpoint along Utah Highway 31. We continued west.

Two more views along the highway. We arrived in Fairview and turned onto US 89 where we encountered rain again for the rest of the way to US Highway 6 into Spanish Fork where it turned to sprinkles as we took Interstate 15 into Provo to the Frontrunner Provo Central station.

FrontRunner History

FrontRunner is a commuter rail train operated by the Utah Transit Authority that operates along the Wasatch Front in north-central Utah with service from Ogden in central Weber County through Davis County, Salt Lake City, and Salt Lake County to Provo in central Utah County.

FrontRunner runs south from Ogden to Provo with a total length of 81.2 miles.

The route uses a portion of the right-of-way of the historic Utah Central Railroad, built in 1869 to connect the First Transcontinental Railroad with Salt Lake City and acquired by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1878. UTA-owned track parallels UP track until Ogden, where, until August 21 2018, when service to Pleasant View was "Suspended Indefinitely", Union Pacific and Utah Transit Authority share the final 6 mi of track to Pleasant View.

Most of the route used by FrontRunner is single-tracked (though it runs parallel to UP tracks), with double-track at stations and several other points along the route to allow trains to pass each other. FrontRunner closely parallels Interstate 15 for most of the route.

There are about 25 round trips on weekdays between Ogden and Provo (through Salt Lake City). Trains run hourly from about 4:30 a.m. to just after midnight on weekdays (increasing to half-hour runs for the morning and evening commutes). On Saturdays trains run every hour from about 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. As of August 2017 FrontRunner does not run during most hours of Sundays. FrontRunner operates some service on holidays other than Thanksgiving, Christmas and the observed Christmas holiday, and New Year's Day and the observed New Year's holiday. FrontRunner is a push-pull train locomotive system (with the locomotives running backwardshalf the time). FrontRunner trains face north, regardless of the direction of travel.

Each station (except North Temple Bridge/Guadalupe has a Park-&-Ride lot. There is no charge for parking in these lots, and the number of parking spaces available at each station ranges from "limited" to 874.

All of UTA's TRAX and FrontRunner trains and stations, streetcars and streetcar stops, and all fixed route buses, are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act and are therefore accessible to those with disabilities. Since not all FrontRunner passenger cars are wheelchair accessible, signage at the stations, on the passenger platforms, and on the passenger cars clearly indicate accessibility options. In addition, each train has one or more Train Hosts available to provide assistance as may be needed, including the placement of ramps for wheelchair boarding. In accordance with the Utah Clean Air Act and UTA ordinance, smoking is prohibited on UTA vehicles as well as UTA bus stops, TRAX stations and FrontRunner stations and all other UTA property.

History In 1998 UTA tested a commuter train set borrowed from the Altamont Corridor Express along Union Pacific track which runs alongside what would eventually be the Frontrunner route. In the same year, UTA began negotiations with Union Pacific to purchase the former Salt Lake Shops. By 2002 an agreement to purchase the shop and renovate it to become UTA's Warm Springs Shop was approved. Work started on the initial section of the line from Salt Lake City to Ogden in 2005. Seven of the planned eight stations opened to riders on April 26, 2008. Eight more stations opened on December 10, 2012.


The entire route was built within the existing Union Pacific corridor and FrontRunner tracks run parallel to the Union Pacific tracks, sometimes on the east and sometimes on the west. Both times FrontRunner switches sides with the Union Pacific tracks it crosses over top of the Union Pacific tracks. Except for the very northernmost section, FrontRunner operates on its own dedicated tracks.

Quiet Zones

The entire length of FrontRunner corridor (including the southern extension) has been approved as a "Quiet Zone" by the Federal Railroad Administration. "Typically, federal railroad safety regulations require that all train operators sound their horns for 15 to 20 seconds as they approach any road crossing." Essentially a Quiet Zone designation eliminates this requirement. However, for obvious safety reasons, they are not prohibited from sounding their horn, if appropriate. The Quiet Zone applies to all trains (including freight trains) within the same corridor. Each city along the route had to individually apply for the designation, but UTA provided substantial assistance with the process. Several safety upgrades must be in place at all public crossings in order to receive Quiet Zone approval. In addition to the normal automatic warning bells and lights, required upgrades include crossing guards, signs warning that trains do not blare horns in the area, and raised medians (which prevent cars from driving around lowered gates). There are also additional safety features for pedestrians. Prior to the southern extension, FrontRunner had the longest Quiet Zone in the nation-the southern extension doubled the length of the previous Quiet Zone.

TRAX Connections

UTA TRAX is one of the four areas (After UTA bus, Streetcar, and FrontRunner itself) that gives community farther areas to go to that you can't regularly go on FrontRunner. TRAX Serves the Salt Lake County and has three lines: TRAX Blue line from Salt Lake Central to Draper, TRAX Green Line from West Valley Central to Salt Lake International Airport, and the TRAX Red Line from University Medical Center to Daybreak Parkway. Murray Central received the Red and Blue Lines and North Temple/ Guadeloupe Bridge had the Green Line, but were not fully complete until 2015. Salt Lake Central has always started the Blue Line. There is three Stations that gives direct access from FrontRunner: Murray Central, Salt Lake Central, and North Temple/ Guadeloupe Bridge.

Fare rates

The current FrontRunner rates are one-way and distance-based. As of March 2016 the base fare is $2.50 (the same as regular bus fare) with an additional $0.60 for each additional stop. The maximum fare charged one-way is $10.30. For seniors the base fare is $1.25 and $0.30 for each additional stop with a maximum fare of $5.15. There is also a promotional Group Pass which allows up to four riders of any age to ride together on FrontRunner, TRAX and local buses for $15.00. The Group Pass is valid starting at 8:30 a.m. and lasts the entire day. Monthly passes valid on FrontRunner, TRAX, local buses, and express buses are available for $198.00, or $148.50 to students.


FrontRunner used 15 MPXpress (MP36PH-3C) locomotives from Motive Power International of Boise, Idaho, bi-level Bombardier cars, and has repainted 25 refurbished ex-New Jersey Transit Comet 1s] which entered service on September 17, 2008. Thirty ex-Metra gallery cars were given to UTA free of charge, but they were determined to be in too poor condition to refurbish, and are being scrapped and used for spare parts for the Comet cars.

Two months into service UTA began receiving complaints about the number of bicycles on the trains. The Bombardier cars were designed to hold two bicycles near the rear doors of each train, but up to 15 bicycles per car were reported by some riders. UTA is investigating options to increase capacity for bicycles, including more lockers at the stations. In January 2016 FrontRunner upgraded Bombardier Car 206 with new bike racks. The new racks increase the number of racks on a car from 9 to 15.


All maintenance for the FrontRunner fleet (locomotives and cars) is provided at the Warm Springs Service Center which is located just west of 500 West at 900 North in Salt Lake City. The Service Center facility, which was purchased from Union Pacific in 2003, was originally built in 1955 at the location of the former Salt Lake City roadhouse. Union Pacific had previously stopped using the facility in 1998 after more than a decade of operating at less than capacity. Following the acquisition from Union Pacific the facility was modified and updated to meet UTA's current needs Operations.

FrontRunner trains typically operate with the locomotive on the north end of the train (facing Ogden); cab control cars are used to operate southbound trains.

Train schedule

On weekdays the first northbound FrontRunner trains (to Ogden Intermodal Transit Center) leave Salt Lake Central Station at about 4:15 am and Provo Station at about 5:00 am. The first southbound trains (to Provo Station) leave both Ogden Intermodal Transit Center and North Temple Bridge/Guadalupe stations at about 5:00 am. The last northbound train leaves Provo Station at 10:20 pm and the last southbound train leaves Ogden Intermodal Transit Center at 11:09. However, the last Northbound train only goes as far as North Temple/ Guadalupe Station. The last southbound train to Provo Station leaves Ogden Intermodal Transit Center at 10:39 pm. However, like the last Northbound train, the last southbound train only goes as far as the Salt Lake Central Station.

As of December 2nd 2018, Friday late night trains run longer than the regular weekdays, but all trains going Northbound terminates at North Temple. Same type of situation as Southbound, except Southbound terminates at Salt Lake Central Station.

On Saturdays the first southbound train leaves North Temple Bridge/Guadalupe Station at about 6:00 am and the first northbound train leaves Salt Lake Central at about 6:45 am. The first northbound train leaves Provo Station at about 7:45 am and the first southbound train leaves Ogden Intermodal Transit Center at about 8:15 am. The last southbound train leaves Ogden Intermodal Transit Center at 1:09 am (Sunday morning) and the last northbound train leaves Provo Station at 1:20 am (Sunday morning). However, the last three trains only goes as far as either Salt Lake Central Station, going Southbound, or North Temple Station going Northbound. The last northbound train to Ogden Intermodal Transit Center leaves Provo Station at 10:50 pm and the last southbound train to Provo Station leaves Ogden Intermodal Transit Center at 10:09 pm. FrontRunner runs every hour Monday through Saturday, with additional runs on the half hour for the weekday morning and evening commutes. FrontRunner also does special trips for big events in Salt Lake City and the surrounding community. As of December 2018, the FrontRunner still does not run on most of the hours of Sundays or holidays.

Our Ride

I dropped off Elizabeth, who with her umbrella went to the ticketing machine to get our round trip tickets to Ogden and back, while I parked the car, collected my umbrella and joined her. We walked to our train.

Our train at Provo Central statiom.

Utah Transit Authority Frontrunner MP36PH-3C 16. The train left at 10:53 AM and we were off to Ogden.

Utah Lake.

A Mormon church under stormy skies.

Buffalo and Pittsburgh GP38 2001, originally Louisville and Nashville 4009, and Buffalo and Pittsburgh GP40 3001, originally Chesapeake and Ohio 4082.

Savage Bingham and Garfield GP38 8620, originally Baltimore and Ohio 4816, and Savage Bingham and Garfield GP38AC 8619, originally Louisville and Nashville 4047.

We passed a moving Union Pacific train with Union Pacific C44AC 6576 on the point.

Union Pacific 8744 West at North Yard in Salt Lake City.

Two long lines of Union Pacific stored motive power at Union Pacific North Yard.

Utah Transit Authority Frontrunner MP36PH-3C 11 at their North Yard shops.

Utah Transit Authority Frontrunner MP36PH-3C 6 also at their North Yard shops.

RSSX GP7 4471 built 1951 as Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha 155 then Chicago and North Western 155, rebuilt by the Oelwein Shops as GP7R 4471 in 1979.

A huge United States flag.

Union Pacific Layton station built in 1912.

The large grain elevator in Ogden.

The old Southern Pacific yard in Ogden.

Union Pacific 1687 West at Ogden.

The spot today where in 2019, the Union Pacific Nose-to-Nose event took place with Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 and 844. Our train ran into the Ogden station and we detrained.

UTA cab car 104 awaits a future assignment.

Elizabeth and our train from Provo which we would take back to there.

The other trainset in Ogden.

Utah Transit Authority Frontrunner MP36PH-3C 5 at Ogden. We reboarded the train and took the same seats.

The route with all the stations.

Wabtec Shuttlewagon trackmobile Navigator Series at a track car plant.

Union Pacific Yard 661 and two others at a refinery north of Salt Lake City.

More stored Union Pacific motive power at the north end of North Yard.

The same Union Pacific train I took a picture of on the northbound trip had not moved an inch.

Utah Transit Authority Frontrunner MP36PH-3C 17 at Salt Lake Central station on a northbound train to Ogden.

Former Denver and Rio Grande Western Roper Yard, now a Union Pacific yard.

Another United States flag under stormy weather.

Three views of Utah Lake before we arrived in Provo Central station where we detrained.

The next train north to Ogden was loading when we got back.

Utah Transit Authority Frontrunner MP36PH-3C 8 at Provo. We returned to the car and I drove us to Jersey Mike's in Springville. Here we had a linner before I filled up the car with petrol while Elizabeth finished her meal. She found a car wash in the same shopping center and the Quick Quack Car Wash did a marvellous job of cleaning the car. I then drove us over to the Best Western Mountain View Inn where we checked. I wrote this story and we both caught up on the Internet before calling it an early night.