Passenger Rail Linking Wyoming to Colorado Possibly Coming in the Next Decade
Cheyenne hasn’t had passenger rail service for over 25 years
- Published In: Other News & Features
- Last Updated: Dec 26, 2023
By Shen Wu Tan
Special to the Wyoming Truth
A passenger rail service connecting Wyoming to Colorado could be on the horizon, offering residents another means of crossing the state border.
The newly formed Cheyenne Passenger Rail Commission met on Dec. 15 to discuss the idea and to hear a presentation from a representative of Front Range Passenger Rail, which could initially provide service from Fort Collins through Denver and south to Pueblo. The long-term goal is for the intercity train service to link Colorado to Wyoming and New Mexico.
“Having traveled by train through Europe, I am quite excited about the opportunity for passenger rail service in Cheyenne,” Jeff Noffsinger, director of the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization and member of the Cheyenne Passenger Rail Commission, told the Wyoming Truth.
“Many people have commented about their excitement about riding a train to Denver and the airport. Passenger rail service would be a great benefit for the community as an alternative transportation method for our residents, our military and our tourists. The amenity could also be viewed as a business attraction tool for companies that are considering expanding or relocation.”
Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins announced the formation of the 10-member Cheyenne Passenger Rail Commission earlier this month. The commission is tasked with providing guidance and oversight for rail service in Cheyenne.
Other members of the Cheyenne Passenger Rail Commission include Charles Bloom, Renee Smith, Dan Kline, Dale Steenbergen, Ken Esquibel, Gunnar Malm, Rep. Landon Brown, Justin Arnold, and Steve Borin. The commission is aiming to meet again during the first week of February, Noffsinger said.
Following the commission meeting, the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will draft a memorandum of understanding with the Front Range Passenger Rail to establish a partnership, according to Noffsinger. The next step is collaborating with Quandel Consultants to outline details for demand analysis and site selection studies for a rail station in Cheyenne. These actions will help when it comes to applying for the federal Corridor ID designation in 2025 and grant funding for a service development plan.
The planning studies will assess overall costs and determine a schedule of arrival and departure times. The passenger rail service could be operational within the next decade or so, per Noffsinger. However, prior to construction, a ballot initiative will be presented to Colorado voters in 2024 or 2025 to fund the Front Range Passenger Rail District. Also, Wyoming officials will need to find funding to extend the service from Fort Collins to Cheyenne.
It was 1997 when Cheyenne last had a scheduled passenger rail service.
“WYDOT (Wyoming Department of Transportation) supports the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) as they determine what is most appropriate for Laramie County, Cheyenne and its residents,” Jordan Young, WYDOT deputy public affairs officer, told the Wyoming Truth. “Interstate 25 and US 85 at the Colorado-Wyoming border collectively see more than 28,000 vehicles per day, per 2019 data, and rail service should be evaluated for potential benefit to commuters. The extent of such a benefit would be determined through future plans developed under the Cheyenne MPO.”
Another three million people are projected to live and commute along the Front Range in the next 30 years, on top of its current estimated five million residents, according to Front Range Passenger Rail.
In 2021, Colorado created the Front Range Passenger Rail District to manage the development of the passenger rail along Interstate 25 between Wyoming and New Mexico. The proposal to establish this rail service between Pueblo, Colorado and Cheyenne has gained traction in recent years.
Also that year, the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law offered billions of dollars to support passenger rail development. Additionally, Amtrak revealed an expansion plan that includes a Front Range regional service from Cheyenne to Pueblo. The service could possibly make stops in Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, Boulder, Denver, Littleton, Castle Rock, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Colorado Springs.
Noffsinger believes the passenger rail service will start up again in Cheyenne given the momentum behind the Colorado project.
He said, “I want to make sure we are part of the conversation moving forward before the train leaves the station.”