Could the Olympics bring more passenger trains to Utah? Here’s what Gov. Cox says.

Gov. Spencer Cox said he discussed the possibility of building more passenger rails in Utah with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The FrontRunner commuter train nears the South Jordan Station on Thursday, May 6, 2021. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox says he wants to bring more passenger rail systems to Utah.

If Salt Lake City secures the 2034 Winter Olympic Games, hosting would likely come with new infrastructure upgrades throughout Utah. But would those include better passenger rail service?

Gov. Spencer Cox fielded such a question during an online town hall Tuesday night.

“I will tell you I’m a huge fan of passenger rail — I think we need more of it,” Cox replied.

While in the nation’s capital for the winter meeting of the National Governor’s Association, which he chairs, Cox said he met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The governor told his social media audience that they spoke specifically about passenger rail — “what that looks like, the investments from the federal government, how we could do more of that in Salt Lake.”

Once he finishes signing — or vetoing — hundreds of bills passed during the 2024 legislative session, Cox said he plans to sit down with Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Utah House Speaker Mike Schultz and state Senate President Stuart Adams to develop a long-term vision for the state, and how it can expand access to traveling by train.

The governor said a rail line connecting Salt Lake City to Park City likely won’t come to fruition in the next decade, but that leaders will probably weigh the so-called “Rio Grande Plan.” That effort would restore rail service at the historic Rio Grande Depot in downtown Salt Lake City and bury rail lines to minimize the physical divide between the east and west sides the the capital city.

City leaders have already signified that they are seriously considering the plan.

“We want all ideas on the table,” Cox said. “We really want to dream big and envision how we can make some of these generational investments.”