Southwest Chief

Southwest Chief
7:24 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Federal Railroad Administration Head Addresses Southwest Chief Commission

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Members of Colorado’s Southwest Chief Commission heard opening remarks at their meeting Thursday from the head of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.
 

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Southwest Chief
4:21 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Southwest Chief Application Receives TIGER Grant

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Efforts to preserve Amtrak’s Southwest Chief long-distance passenger train service that runs through southern Colorado got a financial boost.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports on a grant from the federal Department of Transportation that will help fix some of the regional track that’s in most need of repair.

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Southwest Chief
3:56 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Southwest Chief Commission Prepares to Meet

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Colorado’s commission to look at preserving Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line is gearing up to start its meetings. 

The commission’s been tasked with coordinating efforts to try and save the line, which faces possible rerouting out of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico if necessary infrastructure upgrades aren’t completed.

Jim Souby is the President of the Colorado Rail Passenger Association, and was appointed to the commission to represent the tourism industry.

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Southwest Chief
7:30 am
Wed August 6, 2014

A Funding Quandary: Who Should Pay to Save the Southwest Chief?

Amtrak's Southwest Chief pulls into the Raton, NM station in May.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is a long-distance passenger train that travels daily from Chicago to Los Angeles along the Mountain Route of the historic Santa Fe Trail.  Along the way, it knits together rural communities, like La Junta, Colorado and Raton, New Mexico and connects them to larger cities, like Albuquerque and Kansas City.  The route is at risk though.

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Southwest Chief
7:03 am
Fri July 25, 2014

TIGER Grant Announcement Expected this Fall

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Recipients of an annual federal transportation grant are expected to be announced this fall. As KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports, officials in Southern Colorado are hoping the grant will help keep Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line on its current route.

The grant is known as the TIGER grant, and is part of a federal funding program that helps finance large transportation projects nationwide.

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Southwest Chief
3:33 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

'Whistle-Stop' Tour Travels Along the Southwest Chief Route

La Junta Mayor Lynn Horner (left) shakes hands and poses with Amtrak CEO and President Joe Boardman (right)
Credit Dana Cronin / KRCC

The President and CEO of Amtrak rode the Southwest Chief line in a separate train through Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico on a Whistle-stop tour to talk about the future of the route.  KRCC’s Dana Cronin was in La Junta and has this report.
 

The Southwest Chief runs between Los Angeles and Chicago. The future of the route is in question, as the current rail lines require upgrades in order to maintain passenger rail speeds.

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Southwest Chief
6:40 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Hickenlooper Signs Southwest Chief Commission Bill

Governor John Hickenlooper signs a bill that creates a commission aimed at preserving and expanding Amtrak's Southwest Chief passenger rail service in Southern Colorado. Standing behind him are State Rep. Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo), Amtrak's Ray Lang, Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace and State Senator Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa).
Credit Shanna Lewis / KRCC

Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill in Pueblo today to create a commission aimed at keeping Amtrak’s Southwest Chief rolling through southern Colorado. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports from Pueblo.
 

The train follows the historic Santa Fe Trail through Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico as it travels between Chicago and Los Angeles. But it could be rerouted unless some $200 million in repairs are made to the tracks.

Rail travel supporters gathered behind Pueblo’s Union Depot to watch the governor sign the bill.

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Southwest Chief
7:33 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Railroad West: Threat of Losing the Chief Could Mean the Return of Passenger Rail to Pueblo

Freight traffic comes in along the Arkansas River in Pueblo, behind the Union Depot
Shanna Lewis KRCC

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief rolls through parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas following the historic Santa Fe Trail as it travels between Los Angeles and Chicago. But unless needed repairs are made to the tracks, this section could be rerouted to neighboring states. Yet, the threat of losing this train may be the catalyst that ends up bringing passenger rail service back to Pueblo after a long hiatus.

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Southwest Chief
3:22 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Southwest Chief Advocates Seek Federal Grant

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

A new collaborative effort that crosses state lines has pledged more than $9 million as part of a grant application that would help keep Amtrak’s Southwest Chief on its current route through Southern Colorado.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports.
 

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Southwest Chief
7:30 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Railroad West: In Trinidad, Freight and Passenger Rail are Linked

Tracks leading into Trinidad, Colorado
Maggie Spencer KRCC

Trinidad is the last stop on Amtrak’s Los Angeles-bound Southwest Chief before the train makes its way through Raton Pass and into New Mexico. The route is at risk though, and could be eliminated from Colorado and Northern New Mexico entirely.   As KRCC’s Maggie Spencer reports, many in the southern Colorado region see the passenger train and freight lines as inextricably linked, tying together the town’s history with the opportunities for future economic development.
 

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Southwest Chief
7:35 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Railroad West: La Junta as 'The Junction'

Replicas and remnants of La Junta's railroad past are scattered all over town.
Credit Martha Perez-Sanz / KRCC

La Junta, Colorado is about the 30th stop en route to Los Angeles from Chicago on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief. As the Southwest Chief’s rails are aging and expensive repairs are needed, La Junta is at risk of being removed from the train’s historic route.
 

Downtown La Junta is sprinkled with cafes and small artisan shops. There’s the Otero Museum, which documents the history of the region, and the Koshare Indian Museum, which hosts native dance programs. Bent’s Old Fort is just eight miles from downtown.

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Southwest Chief
7:33 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Railroad West: New Mexico's Legislative Perspective

Amtrak in Raton, NM
Credit 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.

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Southwest Chief
8:12 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Railroad West: Colorado Lawmakers Weigh In on the Southwest Chief

Amtrak's Southwest Chief pulls into the Lamar station.
Credit 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.

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Southwest Chief
7:33 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Railroad West: Southwest Chief Faces Possible Colorado Derailment

The Southwest Chief roughly 20 minutes east of Trinidad, Colorado. The Sangre de Cristo Range looms in the distance in this photo from July 2011.
Credit 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.
 

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Southwest Chief
2:59 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Railroad West: Amtrak along the Santa Fe Trail

Credit 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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Local News
2:07 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Study: Economic Impact of Amtrak in Southern Colorado

The existing Amtrak Southwest Chief Service through Colorado, and how it would reroute with a new station in Pueblo
Credit Summary of the Southwest Chief Impact Study, Kevin Duncan & Michael Wakefield / CSU-Pueblo

Revised, 04/24/14:  New out-of-state visitor numbers supplied to study co-author Kevin Duncan after this report aired lowers the estimated annual impact to around $3.4 million annually.  Duncan writes that it's "about $34 million over ten years. The additional cost of providing service to Pueblo is estimated to be between $26 and $30 million."

Original report:

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