– Well, imagine traveling from Pueblo all the way up to Cheyenne and never getting off a train. There is now a renewed push to get that Amtrak route for passenger train service. Comes as lawmakers are talking about President Biden’s massive infrastructure plan. It includes tens of billions of for Amtrak and other rail services.
– Well, today Amtrak officials and leaders from Colorado’s Front Range Commission shared their vision. Conor McCue reports.
CONOR MCCUE: The gears are turning once again for a train system spanning the Front Range. A new proposal by Amtrak would add dozens of lines around the country, including one connecting Pueblo to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
– I’m very excited about this opportunity.
CONOR MCCUE: On Monday Amtrak officials discussed the proposal with Front Range Passenger Rail Commission members, saying 85% of Colorado’s population lives along the corridor.
STEPHEN GARDNER: As where we need to be to provide important service.
CONOR MCCUE: Amtrak’s proposal comes as President Biden is proposing a $2 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes $80 billion to improve and expand rail services.
STEPHEN GARDNER: With more money, we can go faster and do more. So we hope that that’s that’s part of the plan. But we’ll continue to work at this regardless.
CONOR MCCUE: Colorado officials say that will include securing partnerships and investments from the state. But it could also be up to voters, as a new bill in the state legislature aims to create a special district that could vote on a tax to fund the rail line.
A 2019 survey found 81% of respondents support a Front Range rail service and 61% support a tax increase to fund it.
– In theory, we could start to see some service in a decade, but it would probably take a little longer.
CONOR MCCUE: A transportation alternative appears closer than ever before, but questions of support, funding, and planning remain.
– The trip time needs to compete with automobiles. If we’re going to make this type of investment, we need to make it really worthwhile.
CONOR MCCUE: Conor McCue covering Colorado first.