What Would It Take To Bring Passenger Rail To Colorado's Front Range? The State Aims To Find Out

May 29, 2019

Colorado is set to begin looking into specifics of what it would take to create a passenger rail line along the fast-growing Front Range. The state's transportation department, along with its Commission on Passenger Rail, is now accepting proposals for a study aimed at connecting Pueblo to Denver and Fort Collins by rail. The request also includes Trinidad and asks for the anticipation of a link to Cheyenne, Wyoming. 

This map from 2017, included in the 2019 request for study proposals, shows transportation routes across the state.
Credit CDOT/Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the state's Commission on the Southwest Chief and Front Range Rail requeste the study. The commission has been looking to preserve and expand Amtrak's long-distance passenger route that travels through southern Colorado. In 2017, it was expanded to include the possibility of passenger rail along Interstate 25 and Colorado's Front Range. 

According to a press release from CDOT, the study will look at how the route could support anticipated growth in a corridor that contains 85 percent of the state's population.

"To meet the growing needs of our state, Colorado needs a robust, energy efficient, sustainable transportation system that incorporates different modes of travel and provides more choices for the movement of people and goods," said CDOT's Executive Director Shoshana Lew in the release.

Population growth projections for Colorado, 2018
Credit CDOT/Colorado State Demography Office

The state anticipates the Front Range to grow from 4.9 million people in 2020 to 6.6 million in 2045, to include a 65 percent increase in the Upper Front Range and a 39 percent increase in El Paso County alone.

The study is expected to last more than two years, but through other work at CDOT and with the commission including public and stakeholder meetings, the hope is to have enough information in order to refer a measure to the November 2020 ballot that would create a Front Range Passenger Rail district and ultimately lead to possible funding.