DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation has announced a $5 million study to consider reviving Denver-Steamboat Springs-Craig passenger rail service, as well as coordinated and connecting bus service.
Passenger service on the 191-mile Denver-Craig route ended in April 1968 with discontinuance of the Denver & Rio Grande Western’s Yampa Valley Mail, which became the Yampa Valley after the loss of its U.S. Post Office contract in 1963.
CDOT believes prospects for such service have increased thanks to developments including a dramatic decrease in coal-train traffic on the Union Pacific rail lines involved, making UP officials more open to the possibility of more passenger service. Parts of the route already sees Amtrak’s California Zephyr and the seasonal Winter Park Express ski train.
“We have an unusual confluence of favorable conditions in place right now,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in a press release. “This is a rare opportunity for us to get significant funding for a project that we know is very doable.”
Funding will help create a “service development plan,” to provide data and offer service options for the route. Subsequent steps would involve input from communities, counties, and recreation-industry locations along the site, as well as Union Pacific.
“A just transition for communities moving away from coal production, cutting traffic and reducing pollution are some of my administration’s top priorities,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. “ Expanding passenger rail service to the Yampa Valley can help on all these objectives.”