Amtrak Front Range Route?

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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby David Benton » Mon May 29, 2017 12:57 am

That was how I read the initial report as happening actually. I am sure the first Trains mag article i read was Proposing Denver - Fort Collins. Then the rest has been tacked on, but not sure they have been added to the actual study.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Backshophoss » Mon May 29, 2017 1:16 am

This "dream" was started by then Gov Richardson in NM,Co bought "in",El Paso allowed connection to the Sunset Ltd but Texas was a
bit of a hard sell,was undecided when Gov Richardson(term limit) left the Roundhouse(aka: the Capital) in Santa Fe.
Co was always thinking of reviving a passenger train on the Joint Line.
UP was happy when Amtrak returned to the old CZ route via the DRGW,if the SFOZ/CZ stayed on the overland route to Odgen,
then Cheyanne would have been in the "picture".
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby codasd » Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:57 pm

gokeefe wrote: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.


I would posit that there may be capacity for Front Range service at least between Denver and Trinidad, and down to Lamy, NM if New Mexico bought in. A couple of years ago the Colorado Springs Gazette in an article concerning quiet zones stated that on average 23 trains a day passed thru Colorado Springs. It is UP/BNSF shared single track between Palmer Lake and just south of Colorado Springs. Today those train numbers may be lower due to coal plant closures and the opening of DAPL. 23 trains a day on a single track I believe is less than half the track capacity. I would be interested in a study showing cost and expected ridership on the existing track between Denver and COS/Pueblo.

I do agree that UP and BNSF probably would not want to give up slots on this corridor but the train numbers show that it is not a major north/south route. The railroads may buy in if the supporting entity offered to fund a percentage of the line maintenance. As an aside, UP recently spent a little over $5 million on maintenance between Columbine and Palmer Lake.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby electricron » Tue Jun 27, 2017 5:36 pm

It's too late to start a regional train from Albuquerque to Denver, or into New Mexico from Colorado. The time for Colorado to initiate the service was when New Mexico actually owned the railroad from Lamy north to the Colorado border. It was the complete lack of interest from Colorado to start this train that encourage New Mexico to kill the purchase north of Lamy.
Therefore, any new train along the east of the Rocky Mountains rail corridor will probably be limited to just within Colorado now, imho. Colorado was distracted by HSR back then, which has since been downgraded to convential rail. Another example of overlooking what might have been for something more perfect that could never be.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby John_Perkowski » Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:12 pm

I can see freight moving laterally between the UP and BNSF from the Sunset, Santa Fe, D&RGW, and Overland Routes.

What's the passenger traffic demand,
El-Paso to Albuquerque, the Springs, Denver and Cheyenne...
(You can connect the rest of these city pairs).

What I see, is as NM has, a specific city pair routing which justifies service. In the case of CO I see that as Greeley to the Springs. Not much more.

If there is passenger traffic demand, that's one thing. if there isn't, why do this?

So, to quote an old restaurant ad, "Where's the beef?"

Frankly, I think the most important service Colorado should consider offering is DIA to Grand Junction during the winter season (and I use Grand Junction because it has a yard where equipment can be stored/serviced overnight).
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Arlington » Wed Jun 28, 2017 3:20 pm

mtuandrew wrote: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.


When you look at the Front Range Urban Corridor, and its 4.7m people, the most natural rail system would serve about 3.6m people "near" a 180mile spine between Ft Collins and Pueblo. That's 200,000 people per mile.

Adding Cheyenne adds 50 route-miles for barely 100,000 people: 2,000 people per mile, or just 1/100th of the density of the rest of the Front Range line. So Cheyenne ads big costs, small population, interstate complexity, and a junior partner (WY) with no history or expertise of big transit, and would run along a stretch of I-25 that probably works perfectly fine for bus or car.

Same goes for the southern end: Pueblo to Santa Fe is also a whole lot of nothing populated by a whole lot of nobody, but having a big, commuter-free interstate.

For reference, New Mexico's Rail Runner is a 100 mile system serving about 1m people. 100k per mile has proven kind of marginal.

I think Colorado has a good case for Ft Collins to Pueblo but not beyond. And its an interesting question of whether it should be operated by Amtrak or by a Transit Authority (as NM's Rail Runner is)
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:33 pm

Agreed with the southern portion being a whole lot of nothing between Pueblo and Santa Fe/Lamy. Grudgingly agreed on the north end - though WY would do well to at least provide connecting motorcoach service Fort Collins - Cheyenne. Might be something that could grow into full AMTK service too, to attach WY to the AMTK national network again (and make it 47 of 50.)
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby deathtopumpkins » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:02 am

While Cheyenne doesn't add much in the way of population, it is a logical "next leap" for such a theoretical service, being only 50 miles away, and does have the political benefit of potentially drawing in WY's support. Plus the route would then connect two state capitals, which tend to generate slightly higher levels of business travel. I think WY might be able to be sold on a one-seat train ride to Denver if they chip in north of Fort Collins.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Ridgefielder » Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:42 am

Would Denver <-> Cheyenne operate via the Union Pacific or the Colorado & Southern? Which road is more passenger-friendly- UP or BNSF?
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby electricron » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:01 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:Would Denver <-> Cheyenne operate via the Union Pacific or the Colorado & Southern? Which road is more passenger-friendly- UP or BNSF?

Here's a link with a map...
http://colorail.org/colorail-vision-map/
Between Denver and Cheyenne they propose to use the rail corridor mostly west of I-25, which I believe is owned by UP today.
As for which railroad is easier for Amtrak to cooperate with out west, I believe in most cases the answer is BNSF. That doesn't necessarily mean better - because every corridor has its own history, its own traffic congestion, and its own material condition.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby John_Perkowski » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:15 pm

UP does just fine operating its portion of METRA in Chicago.

I think we'll find the answer to the question is "money talks." It's state service, a la CA or IL, so money will talk.

This is interurban, not intercity. To me, it's more like METRA than Amtrak.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:37 pm

Looks like the westernmost route is BNSF (ex-C&S) after all. If Colorado is willing to pay for the Buffett table, BNSF will probably play along.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby electricron » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:14 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Looks like the westernmost route is BNSF (ex-C&S) after all. If Colorado is willing to pay for the Buffett table, BNSF will probably play along.

You're correct, I was wrong. Here's a link proving it.
http://dtdapps.coloradodot.info/staticd ... System.pdf
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby Arlington » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:56 pm

http://colorail.org/colorail-vision-map/

This "vision" map suffers from the blindness of assuming that if the rails go there, there's demand or need for people to go there.

If there were a book called "How to lie with maps", the Colorado vision (and the Virginia TDX vision) would have a joint chapter on highlighting rail lines as market planning, right between the chapters on coloring counties as a way of counting GDP and the one on coloring states as a way of counting popular vote.
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Re: Amtrak Front Range Route?

Postby electricron » Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:54 pm

mtuandrew wrote: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.

A quick Google search for driving distances got two different answers:
1 h 56 min (101.2 mi) via I-25 N
2 h 30 min (113.6 mi) via US-85 N
I feel the train's route might be longer than either highway route.
Whether it's 101, 113, or more miles, it will probably take a coonvential train stopping at stations along the way over 2 hours to travel. Here's an experiment I suggest you do, sit for 2 hours doing nothing else, then tell me how short it is!
Then consider the train would have to travel in both directions before it could head south again towards Colorado Springs and Pubelo from Denver.
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