Trains to run again next week

Posted 1/29/09

The Regional Transportation District plans to have all trains running on the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Line in time for the Feb. 2 morning …

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Trains to run again next week

Posted

The Regional Transportation District plans to have all trains running on the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Line in time for the Feb. 2 morning commute.

Light rail service was interrupted Jan. 16 by a freight train derailment just south of the Downtown Littleton station platform. The derailment damaged the light rail tracks and trains were halted at the Oxford Station.

To serve passengers, RTD put in a free shuttle-bus service to pick up people at the Mineral and Downtown Littleton Park-N-Ride locations and take them to the Oxford Station, where they could board the train. Commuters also could ride the shuttle bus back to their cars in the Park-N-Ride sites at the end of the day.

Scott Reed, RTD public affairs officer, said the weather slowed the repairs but the goal is to have the repair work completed Jan. 30 so trains can make test runs on the new track over the weekend to set the table for return to service in the early morning hours Feb. 2.

The service disruption began the evening of Feb. 16 when 16 tank cars of a 48-car freight train derailed. The light rail track sits atop an embankment about 7 feet above the freight tracks. The derailed cars damaged the concrete retaining wall holding the embankment and damaged northbound light rail tracks.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe crews cleared the derailment quickly but it took longer to get light rail back into action.

Reed said there was concern the derailment had damaged the foundation under the light rail tracks. Repair crews had to remove several hundred feet of track, take down the retaining wall and redo the foundation.

He said the goal was to have the foundation redone, the retaining wall reinstalled and the tracks back in place by Jan. 30. That will allow trains to make test runs over the repairs before service is restored Feb. 2.

Reed said all construction repair costs will be reimbursed by the railroad. However, RTD will receive no money for any loss of fares from lower ridership during the service disruption.

“It is very difficult to determine how many people decided not to use the RTD system,” he said. “While people may not have ridden the shuttle buses, they could have driven to stations further up the line, used bus service or even driven to stations along the Southeast Corridor.”

The decision to have the shuttle buses go to the Oxford station did cause some problems. Oxford has no RTD-provided parking. On Jan. 26, the line of cars waiting to pick up passengers during the afternoon commute lined up for a couple blocks and, at one point, extended out onto Oxford Avenue.

Mary Canniday frowned at the long line of cars. She said she was coming to pick up her husband and it was a real pain.

“We usually use the Littleton station,” she said. “That’s a lot closer and the traffic isn’t as bad. I don’t like this arrangement and I hope they get the trains running the regular route again real soon.”

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