Railroad reopens through Glenwood Canyon for freight transport following debris flows

Glenwood Springs station empties Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku / Freelance post

The echoes of lively passenger footsteps and cacophonies commonly found inside Glenwood Springs Station were replaced by an eerie silence on Wednesday as the Glenwood Canyon closure continues to block rail and road traffic .

After suspending commercial departures and arrivals east of Grand Junction and west of Denver since July 29, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the reopening of Glenwood Springs station commercial train travel is now expected on Friday.

“We anticipate that tomorrow’s departures will operate to their destinations,” he said. “That means two-way service Friday in Colorado.”

Magliari said Amtrak had to contact passengers who had already purchased tickets to inform them that there was a temporary runway closure, asking if they wanted to book tickets without penalty.

On Wednesday morning, however, the track only reopened for freight trains, UP spokeswoman Robynn Tysver said.

“Union Pacific crews finished cleaning up debris and repairing the track damaged by last week’s mudslide through Glenwood Canyon in Colorado on Tuesday afternoon,” she said in a statement. E-mail. “The track reopened to traffic this morning, with the passage of the first freight trains around 6 am HAR. “

Amtrak officials initially put the kibosh on train travel in the area since heavy rains hit the Grizzly Creek burn scar late last week, causing massive debris flows and mudslides. The natural phenomenon was so epic that it quickly trapped more than 100 motorists in the Hanging Lake Tunnel area or the nearby Bair Ranch exit, where they had to wait for Colorado Department of Transportation crews to make their way through. way through the carnage in an effort to evacuate them.

Typically, the rail service runs one passenger train in both directions each day through Glenwood Springs. Called the California Zephyr Line, which connects Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area, August and late summer are one of the busiest seasons of the year, Magliari said.

“These trains, normally in this season, would have 200 or more customers on them, going through Glenwood Springs, going through Fraser, going down to Denver – or coming the other way to Junction,” he said. “So yeah, it’s a busy season for us, and normally there are a few hundred people, if not more, on these trains.”

For travelers stranded due to the closures, the CDOT changed the detour route for the Bustang bus service in an effort to bypass the Glenwood Canyon closure and ultimately get people to their desired destinations.

“During my 20 plus years here, have I seen any disturbances? Sure. We have had disruptions in California due to forest fires. We have disruptions from time to time and we have people whose job it is to deal with this, ”said Magliari. “Of course it’s disappointing, you know, for hundreds of customers. But I think they understand, especially if they’ve seen one of the footage of what I-70 looks like and what we’re up against there.

Journalist Ray K. Erku can be contacted at 612-423-5273 or [email protected]