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.
The alternative is that Amtrak would reroute the service, bypassing Western Kansas, Colorado and Northern New Mexico entirely.
KRCC News interns Martha Perez-Sanz and Maggie Spencer have been looking into the issue as part of their journalism curriculum at Colorado College. Guided by KRCC News Director Andrea Chalfin, Martha and Maggie have been busy reporting and blogging about their experiences. You can read their blog here.
In the coming weeks, you'll hear a series of stories and conversations from Maggie and Martha, as well as capitol reporter Bente Birkeland and others, about the Southwest Chief, what it means to the depot towns in Colorado and Northern New Mexico, and efforts to save the route.