Today’s Sunday cover story takes a look at what might be in store for Colorado when – and if – years of talk about starting a Front Range passenger railway actually become reality. A partnership with Amtrak would fast-track the idea, so we decided to dive deep into how its relationships with other states work.
I decided to zero in on a popular Chicago-to-Milwaukee route called the Hiawatha. This line is long-established and offers a good sense of what’s possible: Decades of investment by Wisconsin and Illinois, along with the federal government, allow the Hiawatha’s trains to zip between those two Midwestern cities faster than it would take to drive most of the time.
The trains jockey for track space with freight trains and a busy Chicago commuter rail line, a challenge similar to what Colorado will face if it upgrades busy freight corridors here.
To better understand the route and the people who use it, I spent a couple days this month riding trains between Chicago and Milwaukee, talking to passengers and taking the measure of how they operate. I even bumped into a rider from Colorado – one who’s eager to see something similar built here.
Max Herman, Special to The Denver Post
Conductor Marc Buckler scans tickets from passengers as the Hiawatha trains heads towards Milwaukee during the evening rush hour on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. This particular train run carried over 130 passengers.
RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Colorado School of Mines and EasyMile launched the Mines Rover autonomous shuttle service in Golden on Aug. 10, 2021.