ETA for Amtrak Train Service Unknown; Busses Continue

Oct 6, 2013

Officials are pushing to rebuild the Front Range after devastating floods That includes a direct line to the Roaring Fork Valley… a railroad line, that is. Tracks west of Denver were washed out-- and that means changes for Amtrak service to Glenwood Springs. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher has more.

Reporter: Jeff Hershenson, who lives in Snowmass Village, is at the Glenwood Springs Amtrak station on a recent gorgeous fall day. He says the competitive fare prompted him to buy a ticket to Denver.

Jeff Hershenson: “I’m heading back east to Michigan to visit a friend, and flying is rather expensive right now and I thought it’d be interesting to try this way.”

Reporter: Hershenson had heard there might be something different about the service to Denver since massive floods in September. So he asked a few questions… and it turned out he was right.

Marc Magliari: “We’ve charted busses to represent the train, hitting most of the stops, including Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.”

Reporter: Marc Magliari is a spokesman for Amtrak… and while those busses are running, the train service actually continues. But it’s on a huge detour up around the mountainous part of Colorado.

Marc Magliari: “When it reaches Denver, heads north through Cheyenne, then across through Rawlins and Rock Springs Wyoming, and down to Ogden, Utah, rejoins the route in Salt Lake City.”

Reporter: So the bus service to Denver is an added expense right now. Initial estimates were the regular train service could resume in early October. But it’s not clear how much longer Amtrak will have to use busses. Union Pacific owns the tracks that are getting rebuilt. Representative Mark Davis.

Mark Davis: “Really they don’t have a date yet. I mean they just keep saying a few weeks so I’m not sure.”

Reporter: Davis estimates about 2600 rail cars filled with rock are needed for shoring up the tracks. Yes, that was 2600 rail cars… a lot of rock coming from Wyoming. By train, of course. For Snowmass Resident Jeff Hershenson, taking a bus instead of the rails wasn’t a problem. On the same day he’s leaving for Denver, customers Maria Troxler and her friend Mildred Oliver sit in front of the Glenwood Springs Amtrak station. They’re from Baton Rouge, and they took the bus up from Denver at the beginning of their trip.

Maria Troxler: “And it was a nice comfortable ride, it really was. We were looking forward to the train, though.”

Reporter: They saw just enough changing leaves… along Interstate 70… to still make it a pretty ride. There was one problem, though.

Troxler & Mildred Oliver: “Bathrooms… the bathroom facilities were not good.”

Reporter: Amtrak says that’s one of the differences between busses and trains… the latter have attendants to clean the bathrooms en route, while the busses don’t.  But these two riders were still ready to take another Amtrak trip… on wheels.