With the smell of fresh paint still in the air, workers scrambled to put the finishing touches on Denver’s restored Union Station before this weekend’s opening. That’s when the public will get its first look at the revived station and some of its shops and restaurants. A larger grand opening is planned for July 26th.
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line runs through the towns of Lamar, La Junta, and Trinidad - part of a longer passenger route stretching from Chicago to L.A. The rails are in need of major repairs and the upgrades are expected to be in the millions.
Part of a multistate effort, a measure is moving through the statehouse to try and find ways to finance the project and save the rail line.
The Southwest Chief roughly 20 minutes east of Trinidad, Colorado. The Sangre de Cristo Range looms in the distance in this photo from July 2011.
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is a long distance passenger train that travels daily from Chicago to Los Angeles. Some riders travel the full route, others use it as their primary transportation between shorter distances. The train follows the historic Santa Fe Trail, one of the oldest commerce routes in the American West. Along the way, it passes through Southern Colorado—Lamar, LaJunta, and Trinidad—and then into Raton in Northern New Mexico. But the rails are aging, and the Southwest Chief could be diverted, bypassing Colorado and Northern New Mexico entirely.
High speed rail along the Front Range has long been a pipe dream in Colorado. It’s a dream taking a baby step forward though as the Colorado Department of Transportation held the first of four public meetings Monday on a continuing study exploring the feasibility and public support for a line from Fort Collins south via Denver International Airport to Pueblo.