Rail Feasibility Study

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The Rocky Mountain Rail Authority is conducting a one-year study of the technical, financial and economic feasibility of implementing high-speed intercity rail service within Colorado and into neighboring states that could provide seamless travel throughout the state’s most populated corridors. Study activities began in June of 2008.

The study is examining the feasibility of high-speed rail service in two primary corridors: the I-25 corridor along Colorado’s Front Range from Wyoming to New Mexico, and the I-70 mountain corridor from Denver to Grand Junction. Five secondary corridors will also be examined, linking the I-70 corridor to Central City, Winter Park, Breckenridge, Aspen, and Steamboat Springs and Craig.  A map of the study corridors is shown below.

Click here for study objectives

Click here for next steps

Study Objectives

The overall objective of the Rail Feasibility Study is to complete an objective assessment of the feasibility of implementing high speed rail service and to identify the next steps that should be pursued by RMRA and partner agencies in the implementation of that service. This will be done by building on previous efforts, coordinating closely other ongoing relevant studies, surveying stakeholders within the two corridors, and identifying the most effective high speed rail options for each corridor. This will position the RMRA and Colorado to gain high speed rail designation from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for one or both of the study corridors, with the ultimate objective of gaining federal high speed rail funding.

The FRA public/private partnership criteria are:

  1. Positive operating ratio (operating revenue/operating costs)
  2. Positive cost benefit ratio

The six FRA high speed rail feasibility factors are as follows:

  1. Whether the proposed corridors include rail lines where railroad speeds of 90 miles or more per hour are occurring or can reasonably be expected to occur in the future
  2. The projected ridership associated with the proposed corridors
  3. The percentage of the corridors over which trains will be able to operate at maximum cruise speed, taking into account such factors as topography and other traffic on the line
  4. The projected benefits to non-riders, such as congestion relief on other modes of transportation servicing the corridors.
  5. The amount of federal, State and local financial support that can reasonably be anticipated for the improvement of the line and related facilities.
  6. The cooperation of the owner of the rights-of-way that can be reasonably expected in the operation of the high-speed rail passenger service in the corridors.

Additional objectives set by RMRA for the rail feasibility study are as follow:

Project scope is discussed here.

Click here for general study factsheet.

Click here for our Alternatives Fact Sheet.

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Next Steps

While the feasibility study is expected to provide a reasonable assessment of the feasibility of implementing intercity rail service in Colorado, it is recognized that the study will not provide final answers. In addition to the conclusions reached regarding rail service and program financing feasibility, the rail feasibility study will identify needed follow-on studies, as well as administrative and other governmental actions that need to be taken by the RMRA or other Colorado agencies. Coordination with the RMRA and other government entities during the RFS will be documented in the final report.

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Disclaimer: The presentations on the RMRA website are preliminary and do not include all the data and analyses planned for the project.  Presentations are provided for informational purposes on the RMRA High Speed Rail Feasibility Study.  The presentations show preliminary results of work being undertaken. Furthermore, these interim presentations are not approved by the Study Steering Committee or the RMRA Board.