It will be years before passenger rail makes its way to Colorado Springs, but the city is already planning for a station

· May 10, 2022, 4:28 pm
Amtrak's Southwest Chief near Trinidad.Amtrak's Southwest Chief near Trinidad.
Amtrak's Southwest Chief near Trinidad.

The city of Colorado Springs is discussing possible locations for a rail station to accommodate possible connections to the Southwest Chief and proposed Front Range Passenger Rail. 

Suggestions include areas near America the Beautiful Park, the Drake Power Plant and the Santa Fe Depot, among seven others, including:

  • Fontanero Area
  • Rio Grande Depot Area
  • Tejon - Nevada Area
  • Shooks Run Area
  • Future BNSF Yard Area
  • Current BNSF Yard Area
  • Las Vegas - Rail Corridor Area

Brian Vitulli, transit planning supervisor for the city, said the goal is to put the region in a good position to restore rail service, with a location primarily in the railroad right-of-way.

"We're looking at how re-establishing rail service and having a station here in Colorado Springs works with other connectivity," he said at a council work session Monday.

The site would emphasize multimodal transportation including other regional transit like buses as well as walking and biking. Sites were chosen based on a range of criteria like adjacency to the current rail corridor and the amount of space available. Parking and zoning considerations will also factor into the final decision.

"It could be something as simple as a really nice platform and a nice shelter, ticket kiosks…while ridership grows and then it could grow into something bigger," he said, emphasizing Amtrak's threshold for determining station size.

The city is only selecting a preferred site for the station and will not be responsible for designing or constructing it.

"That will likely come from CDOT or Amtrak or however that moves forward," he said. "We think — and CDOT agrees — that identifying a location is better done at the local level."

Next steps for the process include continued evaluation of the sites, identifying funding, design and construction, as well as public engagement. 

"There's still a lot of work to be done, yet," Vitulli said.

The conversation regarding passenger rail service in the region has been ongoing with various feasibility studies and planning for the better part of a decade. The study into the location of the station itself began in the fall of 2021 and is expected to be finished this summer. 

Vitulli said it's likely Colorado Springs will see service from the Southwest Chief sooner than the Front Range system. He estimates that could be within two to three years.

Amtrak's Southwest Chief currently runs between Chicago and Los Angeles through southern Colorado, with stops in La Junta, Trinidad and Raton, New Mexico. The new station would extend the route with a through-car from La Junta to Colorado Springs, with a stop in Pueblo.

A bill to create a Front Range Passenger Rail District was approved by the legislature last year, bringing the Front Range Passenger Rail even closer to reality, but Vitulli says he expects it would  take upwards of ten years to be completed.

Plans for the Front Range Passenger Rail service would connect Fort Collins to Pueblo.


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