Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Rail Service runs through southern Colorado and into New Mexico on its way from Chicago to Los Angeles. The route faces repair costs, and Colorado’s portion of that could be about 40 million dollars over the course of 10 years. As KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports, a new economic impact study breaks down what those repairs mean to Southern Colorado, and what it would take to add a train station in Pueblo.
Using passenger numbers from Amtrak, the study found out-of-state visitors generate around $5.7 million dollars annually in Colorado, plus tax revenues. The route also creates about 50 jobs. The plan for the Pueblo stop would reroute the service from La Junta to Trinidad through Pueblo on existing freight lines that would need upgrading. The change would increase costs by around 31 million dollars, but CSU-Pueblo economist and study co-author Kevin Duncan says those numbers are somewhat finite.
"It’s important to keep in mind that after 10 years, the expected repair costs, or the repair costs, are expected to decrease sharply after the line has been repaired, but the benefit associated with out-of-state visitors is going to continue on into the future."
Duncan says expansion of the route to Pueblo would add an additional $6.7 million in economic activity and more than 60 jobs. He adds though, they were unable to determine how the addition of a Pueblo station might impact other current stops in Colorado.