• Salt Lake City, Utah: Frontrunner

  • General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by stephenloosli
A note about the free Wireless Internet on UTA FrontRunner service from UTA:
FrontRunner WiFi Service Embraced by Riders

UTA sees over a thousand people a day using wireless aboard FrontRunner

The Utah Transit Authority is pleased to announce FrontRunner commuter rail riders are using the onboard wireless internet (WiFi) service in record numbers. The average number of riders connecting to the WiFi service is more than 1,000 per day, or approximately one in nine passengers. FrontRunner WiFi service is free for all riders.

"It's easy to walk through the train during a rush hour trip and see dozens of riders using laptops to catch up on work, read e-mail, or browse the Internet," said UTA Chief Technology Officer Clair Fiet. "Its popularity has exceeded our expectations."

UTA provides WiFi service as an added benefit to attract riders away from their cars and onto public transit. "Instead of spending their time behind the wheel in traffic, our riders are able to use the time more productively," Fiet said. "We've even heard stories of companies who allow their employees to 'clock in' as soon as they board, because they are able to get so much work done during their commute."

To connect to the service, FrontRunner riders should look for the "UTA_WiFi" identifier in their list of available wireless networks and connect. The only requirement is that the user open up a browser window and then accept the 'Terms of Internet Service' use. Acceptance of the terms is only required once per session.

"The WiFi service is so easy to use that most people aren't aware of the cutting-edge technology behind it," Fiet said. "It is technically very challenging to deliver a consistent and continuous Internet connection to a large number of users on a train travelling up to 79 miles per hour. No other rail system in the world to date has been able to deliver it as effectively as UTA."

The infrastructure to support FrontRunner WiFi was planned for early on in the project. Before completing construction on the 44-mile rail corridor, UTA installed conduit and fiber optic cables under the tracks. This fiber system delivers a 20 megabits-per-second internet connection to 28 towers that parallel the route. The towers then broadcast a five megabit WiMax connection to the train as it goes by, passing the continuous signal from tower to tower in a relay as the train travels down the tracks.

WiFi service is also free and available on UTA's express bus fleet on routes that run from county to county.

For more information, visit http://www.rideuta.com.

UTA FrontRunner WiFi Fact Sheet


* UTA offers WiFi service on FrontRunner free to all riders from downtown Salt Lake City to Ogden.
* After just four months of operation, over 1000 users per day are connecting to the WiFi service, approximately 1 in 9 riders.
* To connect to the service, riders should look for the "UTA_WiFi" identifier (SSID) in their list of available wireless networks.
* Once connected, riders simply need to open a browser window and accept the 'Terms of Internet Service Use' and they are ready to go.
* WiFi is compatible for riders with standard Virtual Private Network (VPN) setups, allowing them to virtually connect to their office network while on the train.


* FrontRunner's WiFi uses cutting edge technology that is on the fore-front of innovation.
* It is currently the fastest WiFi network in the world that offers free internet access to all riders on all train cars along a 44 mile commuter rail corridor.
* Delivering a consistent and continuous Internet connection on board a moving train traveling up to 79 mph is technically very challenging, no other rail system has been able to deliver it as effectively as UTA.
* UTA was able to build the WiFi network by advance planning, with components of the WiFi infrastructure integrated into the rail construction project.


* Conduit and fiber optic cables installed under the tracks allowed UTA to build a very robust WiMax backhaul system.
* Fiber backhaul system connects to a dedicated 20 megabits per second ISP (internet service provider)
* The rail corridor features 28 WiMax towers that connect the fiber backhaul system to the trains by broadcasting a 5 megabit WiMax connection to access points on board each car.
* The access points then broadcast the WiFi to users seated anywhere on the train.
* Train cars also feature an ATT 3G data backup network that maintains a continuous connection with WiFi users to prevent any loss of signal in the event of a drop from the WiMax system.

Project Contractors

* Nomad Digital - WiFi network infrastructure
* Redline Communications - WiMax and WiFi equipment
* Wasatch Electric - Fiber and tower telecommunications infrastructure
* Xmission - Broadband Internet Service Provider
  by Arborwayfan
My family and my sister in law's family took Frontrunner from Ogden to SLC and Trax to Trolley Sq for dinner with my mother in law just after Christmas (That's two family weekend fares, $33 for all 7 of us). I was impressed by how classy the whole system is: pleasant cars, sidings at stations so you're often stopped anyway when there's a meet, and an easy cross-platform transfer to Trax. They could use an inside waiting area there, though. Maybe a deal with Amtrak?
  by slchub
Arborwayfan wrote:My family and my sister in law's family took Frontrunner from Ogden to SLC and Trax to Trolley Sq for dinner with my mother in law just after Christmas (That's two family weekend fares, $33 for all 7 of us). I was impressed by how classy the whole system is: pleasant cars, sidings at stations so you're often stopped anyway when there's a meet, and an easy cross-platform transfer to Trax. They could use an inside waiting area there, though. Maybe a deal with Amtrak?
Unfortunately the UTA/State of Utah/SLC "stole" the old Rio Grand station away from Amtrak with a promise of building a new and "modern" terminal for Amtrak. Years later we are still in "Amshack" (the Amtrak SLC depot is a par of modular trailers) with dire parking and platform space. Way to go Utah!
  by Rockingham Racer
How does Frontrunner number its trains? On the website, it gives no train numbers in the schedule like other commuter agencies do?
  by FormD
When you run Commuter Rail in Highway Medium Strips as as been advocated by High Speed Rail propnents that the Grade of .05 % can be maxed out or even exceeded. The problems of medium strips is that Highways have often roller coaster terrain that cant be used by freight trains.
  by Gilbert B Norman
While visiting Salt Lake City on Saturday April 10, I took, along with Member Lew Jeppson, a joyride Salt Lake to Ogden and return.

After a day to drive from Cheyenne (this was an auto trip) on Friday and with the constant reminder that people once walked across this moonscape (if you are riding the Zephyr, I really do not think 'you've been robbed" should you catch an Overland Route detour) and a visit to the Golden Spike National Monument (I had not been there since I was at Hill AFB during 1968), I arrived at Salt Lake City and checked in at the Downtown Marriott. Previously, Mr. Jeppson, had e-mailed me to say he would phone me when I got there (even if my auto has a hands-free system, I still avoid "yakkin and drivin"). However, just as I was getting ready to shut off the phone for the evening, it rings. He then asks me what kind of view did I have from the hotel. I said to the South and I was on a high floor with a balcony (thanks Marriott for the clearly upgraded room - I was on a Senior Citizen rate and not with any kind of "precious metal" status in your reward plan). He then asked if I see the Rio Grande station, I said yes, and he said Frontrunner leaves from one block West of there. He suggested a taxicab, or getting my auto back from the Valet, but I saw a nice walk in a town that I have always held in great regard.

In a short phrase, I was indeed impressed.

Saturday April 10 dawned crystal clear (like Denver and LA, there can be noticeable pollution at Salt lake for the same topographical reasons). The RRNET Member Mr. Lew Jeppson (name used with his permission) a Professor of Economics in real life, and I were to meet at 1030 at the Frontrunner station for a 1057A departure. After Breakfast at Marriott (where a waitress thanked me for my service in Viet Nam rather than the figurative 'spit upon" I got when I returned from my tour), I took my Daily walk, which included a 'dry run' to the Frontrunner Intermodal station (others there, Amtrak, Greyhound, and Trax - the Light Rail system - plus Greyhound). 4300ft of altitude is "just slightly" noticeable to one my age. After a quick stop back at the hotel, I got to the Intermodal station in time to meet Mr. Jeppson, buy my ticket (it's honor system; but don;t get caught) and board the train. Consist was three cars F-59, Comet (Horizon) Coach, and two Bombardier bi-levels. All equipment appeared immaculate, but then save the ex-NJT Comets, all is new.

As we departed on-time, Mr. Jeppson pointed out the array of brand new equipment 'just sitting'. This equipment is to be used for the "done deal" of extending Southward to Provo and some limited service North to Brigham City. Hey, if you have funding today, go for it; who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Frontrunner operates on their own right of way laid along that of the UP SLC-Ogden. The former D&RGW has merely become industrial sidings or has been abandoned. Part of "the deal" between the sponsoring transit agency, UTA, and UP is that, in exchange for getting the access UTA got "for a song" is that UP can operate over the single track with sidings at stations UTA right-of-way but not vice versa. Apparently UP was motivated to sell them ROW for a song lest someone impose on them to have the service operated over THEIR lines.

We were not exactly sitting "center car', but the track was exceptionally smooth, and 79mph is easily attained by an F-59 handling three cars.

If I have suggested that "all they did was lay another track along the UP", when arriving at Ogden, one realizes that this is no shoestring operation. The line diverges away from the UP near Roy Jct (the Jct about one mile East of the OUD where the line to SLC and the SP Lucin Cutoff lines diverge) and proceeds on a massive "flyover" track atop the now rather unused yards at Ogden.

The station at Ogden is somewhat North of the OUD, which has now been converted to a museum and a "shoppertainment plaza'.

Mrs. Jeppsen was not feeling well, so we returned on the same train South as we rode North. No one ever asked to see our tickets, but somehow I think farebeating is dealt with severely. Lew gave me a ride back to the Marriott and that was that.

At Salt Lake, I think the service is somewhat hampered by a bad location; as the "intermodal center" is further West than is the D&RGW station, which is now a State office building. Commuters, as distinct from joyriding railfans - especially one who likes to get his two miles a day on the clock in perfect weather, may find the location inconvenient to Salt Lake's 'center' of Temple and Main. It is "too bad" that both the D&RGW station and the OUD have been converted to other uses, but that is simply a "casualty" when an area goes without any meaningful passenger service for almost four decades.

Now, a word on Salt Lake City, this is a growing and vibrant city and becoming a magnet for the young almost to the same extent as is Denver. It is "light years' ahead of Denver in developing mass transportation, and there is a massive office-entertainment-residential project moving forth within sight of Temple Square. It appears a place that the question 'recession, what recession?" can aptly be raised. The performance of Verdi's Requiem I attended at Abravenel Hall that Saturday evening with the Utah Symphony and Chorus was 'World class" in every respect.

Lest one wonder, the city has become far more cosmopolitan than I found it to be forty two years ago. You can walk into a bar and "order up' nowadays. The influence of the LDS Church is still great, but there is nothing in the Church's doctrine forbidding hard work and enterprise. The results clearly show and are favorable
  by electricron
UTA ordered to halt work on FrontRunner South section

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has asked the Utah Transit Authority to stop construction on a section of the FrontRunner South Commuter Rail until it can conclude whether the area contains Native American artifacts or endangered species. The Corps concluded that UTA is violating the terms and conditions of the Department of Army permit for the 45 miles of commuter railroad that will connect Salt Lake City and Provo, running adjacent to Union Pacific tracks near the Jordan River. One noncompliance area is near the Union Pacific track and 13000 South, on which a UTA contractor dumped topsoil last fall. Another is along the Jordan Narrows, where the government says crews changed the location of a rail bed before receiving approval.
UTA is working to remedy the situation, UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter said. UTA employees submitted to the federal government on March 22 a permit modification, Carpenter said, which is necessary because the permit of 2008 had a station at 14600 South that will now be at 12800 South. UTA also has complied with the Corps' requests to cease work in the Jordan Narrows, from roughly 16000 South to Thanksgiving Point, and in the station area of Bangerter Highway to 13600 South, Carpenter said. Ceasing construction in the two sections will not delay the project, because there are other areas along the 45-mile stretch to send crews, Carpenter said. UTA will finish FrontRunner South by 2015, possibly as soon as the end of 2012.
  by atsf sp
Where are the shops and where are the trains kept?
  by electricron
atsf sp wrote:Where are the shops and where are the trains kept?
At the old UP shops in Salt Lake City.

You can see the trains go by the UTA maintenance shops and yard in these YouTube videos
SLC to Odgen (approximately 25 seconds into video)
Odgen to SLC (near end if video)