Series: Railroad West

Amtrak's Southwest Chief runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through towns in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

In spring 2014, the future of the route was largely in question due to expensive upgrades and repairs needed in order to maintain passenger rail speeds.

Railroad West is KRCC's ongoing coverage of the issue, which began when news interns Martha Perez-Sanz and Maggie Spencer looked into the Southwest Chief as part of their journalism curriculum at Colorado College. 

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief runs daily from Chicago to Los Angeles, stretching across portions of Western Kansas, Southern Colorado, and Northern New Mexico.

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Colorado’s Amtrak rail line in southeastern Colorado is in need of major repairs. Upgrades to the track are expected to be in the millions, and a measure is moving through the statehouse to try and find ways to finance the project and save the rail line.  It’s part of a multi-state effort.
 

The Southwest Chief line runs through the towns of Lamar, La Junta, and Trinidad. It’s part of a longer passenger route stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Railroad West: Southwest Chief Faces Possible Colorado Derailment

Mar 13, 2014
Steve Wilson / Flickr - Creative Commons

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.
 

Railroad West: Amtrak along the Santa Fe Trail

Mar 12, 2014
Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Amtrak's Southwest Chief runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through towns in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.  The future of the route is in question, as the current rail lines require upgrades in order to maintain passenger rail speeds.  A partnership is on the table to share expenses for the upgrades; as proposed, Colorado’s portion would be about $40 million over the course of ten years. A bill making its way through Colorado’s legislature would set up a commission to study the issue, as well as the possibility of adding a depot in Pueblo.

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