Southwest Chief Thru-Car Service Study

About the Project

CDOT, Amtrak, and the Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Commission (now Front Range Passenger Rail District) received a federal grant in 2021 to study the feasibility of adding passenger rail service between Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and the existing Amtrak Southwest Chief station in La Junta. The Southwest Chief Service Study is a project to understand a range of potential service options for passenger rail in Southeast Colorado. The options being considered are known as alternatives and will include operational strategies as well as capital investments—or the changes to physical infrastructure—needed to support expanded service.

This passenger rail service would operate between the cities of La Junta, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs, connecting these communities with Amtrak’s existing Southwest Chief service, which operates daily between Chicago and Los Angeles. In Colorado, the Southwest Chief currently has station stops in Lamar, La Junta, and Trinidad.

The reactivation of passenger rail service along this historic railroad alignment will provide national and regional transportation linkages and social and economic benefits to Colorado communities on the Front Range. The proposed extension of service will also benefit the financial viability of the Southwest Chief by adding ridership and revenue to the long-distance service and a connection to future Front Range Passenger Rail service, which is proposed to operate between Pueblo and Fort Collins.

Southwest Chief Thru-Car Study Area

Southwest Chief Study Area Graphic
Southwest Chief Study Thru-Car Study Area

Southwest Chief Thru-Car Service: Feasibility Study Grant Application

Project Purpose & Need

  • Provide transit service to additional travel markets along the southern Colorado Front Range to enhance regional and intercity connectivity (primary).
  • Provide additional safe, reliable, and efficient travel choices in the Southern Colorado Front Range (along 1-25 and US 50), particularly with projected changes in population and employment (primary).
  • Support tourism and economic development goals of local jurisdictions through attracting out of state visitors and transit station development and/or enhancement (secondary).
  • Advance a longer-term passenger rail vision throughout Colorado (secondary).
  • Provide safety improvements and modifications to the rail corridor for the introduction of passenger rail services between La Junta, Pueblo and Colorado Springs (secondary).

Study Status

This is a standalone Study separate from the Front Range Passenger Rail Service Development Plan. The proposed routing, however, does overlap with Front Range Passenger Rail routing between Pueblo and Colorado Springs. Due to this, as of August 2023, the Southwest Chief Thru-Car study team will pause analysis on the Colorado Springs - Pueblo segment and focus on the Pueblo - La Junta segment. At the appropriate point in the Front Range Passenger Rail Service Development Plan, evaluation of a thru car and/or integrated Front Range Passenger Rail service option in the Colorado Springs - Pueblo segment will recommence.

This revised task sequencing allows for a holistic approach to rail planning in the Colorado Springs - Pueblo segment, and avoids two separate efforts to model operations and design infrastructure for two different rail services.

Southwest Chief Thru-Car Study Schedule

SWC FRPR Schedule Graphic

To obtain the accessible version of this schedule click here.