Amtrak announces plans to add service route connecting Cheyenne to the Front Range
Amtrak’s rail service connecting Glenwood Springs to Denver could potentially intersect with a new rail line connecting Cheyenne, Wyoming to Pueblo if President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan is approved by Congress.
Biden’s American Jobs Plan allocates $80 million in funding to address Amtrak’s repair backlog, modernize the high traffic Northeast Corridor, improve existing corridors and connect new city pairs; and enhance grant and loan programs that support passenger and freight rail safety, efficiency, and electrification. The Colorado Department of Transportation would have a say in which service lines would receive those federal funds, according to Amtrak spokesman Marcus Magliari.
“CDOT produces a state rail plan which is updated every four years and has been in charge of deciding which areas need more service,” Magliari said.
The state last updated that plan in 2018.
“A couple things that make states hesitate is the way the cost is shared. It’s a huge obstacle for states to get over,” Magliari said. “The service in our network has not grown to keep up with our population. We believe we can be a greater utility to folks all across the country.”
The Amtrak train that stops in Glenwood Springs had been reduced to only three services per week due to the pandemic, but will restore daily route services by late May, Magliari said.
Currently, Amtrak operates a 42 passenger-car California Zephyr which connects Colorado to Salt Lake City, Oakland, California; Emeryville, California; Omaha, Nebraska; and Chicago.
It traverses the entire state, generally paralleling Interstate 70 and Interstate 76. Colorado stops include Fort Morgan, Denver, Fraser/Winter Park, Granby, Glenwood Springs, and Grand Junction.
There’s no current passenger rail service from Cheyenne to Denver.
Shelby Wieman, Acting Press Secretary for Gov. Jared Polis’ Office, said Colorado is ready to put transportation plans into action — if funding is approved by Congress.
“We are encouraged by the President’s and Amtrak’s proposals to bring the idea of front range rail to reality. Rail is not only important to reducing congestion along the front range, but is vital to our efforts to achieve our greenhouse gas reduction goals,” Wieman said.
“We have had preliminary conversations with our partners in the state, including the Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, Regional Transportation Denver and CDOT, and the private railroads to prepare for the future. We stand ready should Congress act and provide funding and the relevant partners can reach a workable plan.”
Magliari said there’s no guarantee there will be a reduction in greenhouse emissions or traffic volumes along I-70.
“You can’t keep people from driving, but you can give them another option other than driving,” Magliari said.
Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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