Amtrak Front Range Route?

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Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Balerion » Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:48 pm

I thought it would be worthwhile to have a thread to keep track of the steady drumbeat of chatter in Colorado about a Front Range route, even if it's not very likely to come to fruition. The city of Pueblo in particular has been advocating for some sort of unspecified connection to the Southwest Chief in La Junta and/or a full Front Range route to the north. Running some sort of dinky or splitting off a Southwest Chief car in La Junta for Pueblo service seems excessively complicated for a +1 stop route that serves a market that already has a Thruway bus to both the SWC and the California Zephyr. If any service expansion ever occurs, a route up to Denver or Fort Collins makes more sense.

Colorado's legislature authorized the expansion of the Southwest Chief Commission:

The new commission must continue to preserve the existing Amtrak Southwest Chief rail line service, but its new mission is to "facilitate the future of a Front Range passenger rail system that provides ... service in and along the Interstate 25 corridor."

The bill says that such a system "may include stops at the cities of Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, Boulder, Denver, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs and Pueblo."


How much investment would be needed to run this sort of service alongside the usual freight traffic?
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby electricron » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:00 pm

Balerion wrote:I thought it would be worthwhile to have a thread to keep track of the steady drumbeat of chatter in Colorado about a Front Range route, even if it's not very likely to come to fruition. The city of Pueblo in particular has been advocating for some sort of unspecified connection to the Southwest Chief in La Junta and/or a full Front Range route to the north.......
How much investment would be needed to run this sort of service alongside the usual freight traffic?

The answer to that last question usually requires an environmental impact study to be completed. I assume Colorado is performing a study presently, but they aren't.

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/04/18/co ... l-study-2/
A plan to explore passenger rail service along Interstate 25 in Colorado is on its way to the governor’s desk.
The state House voted Tuesday to order a report on the feasibility of Front Range rail service by the end of the year. The study is part of a bill to extend the work of an existing panel looking at the Southwest Chief. That’s an Amtrak line that runs through southern Colorado.
The measure already cleared the Senate and now awaits Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature.


If the Governor signs the bill, a feasibility study commences. After that study's results are published with positive results, then an EIS may commence. In recent times, it can take 10 years from the beginning of a feasibility study to reach a conclusion of an environmental study before whatever construction is placed out for bidding in a RFP.

What I'm suggesting is we are 10 years away from an answer to your question.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Backshophoss » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:04 pm

Believe the "Pueblo Detour" option is covered in the SW Chief thread.
The "Dream" is Pueblo-Denver on the Joint Line, with a possible extension to ABQ via Trinidad(via the C&S/FW&D routing).
The "Pueblo Detour" is La Junta-Pueblo-(UP)Walsenburg-(BNSF)Trinidad(Raton Sub,BNSF).
IF the train from Denver-Pueblo is extended to ABQ ,the Pueblo-Trinidad section of the "Detour" is used. :wink:
At Walsenburg you could "connect" to SLRG(IP) to Alamosa... :wink:
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Balerion » Wed May 24, 2017 6:52 am

Hickenlooper has signed bill to explore Front Range passenger train service. What now?

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week signed into law a bill to explore building passenger rail service along the Front Range and the expansion of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route through the state’s southeastern corner.

Monday’s signing sets into motion a set of 11 stakeholders to be appointed to a voting group on the newly created Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission. It’s charged with presenting the state legislature with a plan and a draft bill for New Mexico-to-Wyoming service before the end of 2017.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Greg Moore » Wed May 24, 2017 8:40 am

Of course I made the mistake of reading the comments and had to LOL about how busses operate with "no subsidies". Yeah, it's not direct, but they're certainly getting benefits from other tax payers when it comes to roads, often the bus terminals themselves, and even the highways.
Check out QuiCR, Quick, Crowdsourced Responses for businesses.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby gokeefe » Sat May 27, 2017 5:16 pm

New Mexico to Wyoming??? ... Wow.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby electricron » Sat May 27, 2017 6:33 pm

Explore is a long, long ways away from operations? :)
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby dgvrengineer » Sat May 27, 2017 7:30 pm

Wyoming to Dallas has much more potential as a new route and is much more in demand. It should be considered in conjunction with this study if possible. I would be happy
with a new route along the Front Range going to either destination.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Balerion » Sat May 27, 2017 7:37 pm

gokeefe wrote:New Mexico to Wyoming??? ... Wow.


Of course, we should note that New Mexico and Wyoming don't seem to have weighed in on this topic just yet...

EDIT: It also seems to be speculation by the newspaper. There's no mention of Wyoming (or New Mexico in this context) in the actual text of the law:

https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/ ... 53_enr.pdf
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby bretton88 » Sat May 27, 2017 7:46 pm

This is the third major study Colorado has authorized in the last 8 years. The other two where high speed rail studies, which showed high speed rail was feasible for the state. Now they seem to be pivoting the California approach with a local commission overseeing rail planning and possible operation. As far as connectivity goes, all that is being authorized here is Pueblo to Ft Collins. My guess is BNSF/UP will ask for the full front range bypass to be built before hosting any passenger trains (hello $$$).
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby gokeefe » Sun May 28, 2017 12:41 pm

It's interesting to note how expensive most new service proposals are. There really aren't many corridors with sufficient excess capacity available to host passenger trains in any areas that would have meaningful ridership.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby mtuandrew » Sun May 28, 2017 3:30 pm

gokeefe wrote:It's interesting to note how expensive most new service proposals are. There really aren't many corridors with sufficient excess capacity available to host passenger trains in any areas that would have meaningful ridership.

Doesn't help that UP is pretty reticent to allow any new passenger trains on its routes without extra tracks, preferably full separation a la UTA FrontRunner, while BNSF is willing to host - for a steep price.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby gokeefe » Sun May 28, 2017 7:19 pm

Both very fair points. I think it's notable that no one seems to dispute the railroads' position that they simply don't have any excess capacity. The lack of argument on the matter indicates to me that the freight railroads truly cannot host anymore than they already do.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Backshophoss » Sun May 28, 2017 7:27 pm

The "working dream" was El Paso-ABQ-Pueblo-Denver,with an"out there" add on of Cheyanne via Greeley.
There's still decent coal business heading to the D-FW Metroplex power plants
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby mtuandrew » Sun May 28, 2017 11:49 pm

Never understood why Cheyenne was so "out there" since it's not even 100 miles from Denver. Seems much more reasonable and easier to start with Cheyenne - Denver - Pueblo (and possibly Trinidad or La Junta) service than trying to wrangle both Texas and New Mexico into agreements. Colorado would be the sole driver, with Wyoming coming along as a minority partner if it chooses.
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