Gardner, Bennet find money to keep Amtrak's Southwest Chief train rolling


A hypothetical Fort Collins-to-Pueblo passenger rail line could see nearly 3 million riders per year, according to modeling projections for the Southwest Chief And Front Range Passenger Rail Commission.

“Demand is highest for commuters, but there’s also substantial demand for recreation and special events,” noted the Aug. 28 presentation. The model anticipated that seven out of 10 riders would travel the rail route for work, with usage highest on the segment from Denver Union Station northward.

"We really do believe that the Front Range ... is ripe for this,” said Ray Lang, Amtrak’s senior director for national state relations, according to CPR. “It is an area that we've identified that we want to grow service, corridor service, in."

The 191-mile route would be longer than other peer systems, and the average weekday ridership in Colorado would most closely resemble the South Shore line in Chicago and the Capitol Corridor between San Jose and Sacramento. The forecast assumes that Colorado would have 25 trains per day in each direction and 14 stations.

Future models would account for different combinations of train frequencies, stations or route alignments. The current model incorporated data pertaining to personal travel behavior, census counts, and vehicle and transit ridership.

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