This past Tuesday, Fort Collins City Council voted to “support …a future Amtrak passenger rail service stop in Fort Collins as part of the national ongoing study for possible reinstatement of Amtrak’s Pioneer route. ” (See Coloradoan story).
The Pioneer route ran 1977-1997 from Seattle to Chicago, via Denver. Last year, the Federal Government ordered Amtrak to study returning the Pioneer to service. That study should be finished next week, October 16, 2009, according to the website http://www.pioneertrain.com.
The original train never passed through Fort Collins, but rather rolled along the highway 85 corridor from Cheyenne to Denver.
The folks at PioneerTrain.com have been urging cities along the 287 corridor to show Amtrak support for bringing the Pioneer through the more populated areas of the front range. Boulder, Longmont, and Loveland councils have already signed on.
The thinking is that more people = more passengers = better chance of success for the Pioneer.
But other train fans note that rerouting the train will add more than an hour to the timetable as the train slows through city after city. The original train took 2 hours to run from Cheyenne to Denver. If it goes through Fort Collins/Loveland, it will take more than 3 hours, they say. And that could lower overall ridership.
That’s not the only barrier to Fort Collins’ dreams of seeing Superliners on Mason Street. According to Pioneer Train.com, “Amtrak’s current position is that the law requires Amtrak to look at the Pioneer as it was operated in the past, rather than as it might be in the future.”
Sounds like a long shot, huh? I plan to root for it nonetheless.
Big thanks to Jim Burrill for his Amtrak Pioneer photo and Route Guide.