Sources: 'Zephyr' to run modified schedule or detour through Wyoming

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DENVER — Union Pacific track work on the Moffat Subdivision in September and October will result in major schedule changes for Amtrak’s daily Chicago-Emeryville, Calif., California Zephyr along with a detour of the train between Denver and Salt Lake City via Wyoming on 15 days, say sources close to the railroad. The period from Sept. 4 through Oct. 9 will start with a modified schedule for 11 days, then eight days of detour, then resumption of the modified schedule for seven days, and will finish with eight more days of detour.

From Sept. 6 through 16 and Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 (date of Chicago departure), westbound train No. 5 will operate at least 4.5 hours later than scheduled west of Denver, but will use the normal route. From Sept. 4 through 14 and Sept. 23 to 29 (date of Emeryville departure), eastbound train No. 6 will depart Emeryville 1.5 hours later than scheduled (10:40 a.m. Pacific time) and will operate later through at least Denver, but may make up lost time between Denver and Chicago.

From Sept. 17 to 24 and Oct. 2 to 9 (Chicago departure of train No. 5) and Sept. 15 to 22 and Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 (Emeryville departure of train 6), both trains will detour between Denver and Salt Lake City, bypassing intermediate stops but remaining on the advertised schedule at all other stops. Since the detour route is shorter than the normal route, this will likely result in additional layover time in Denver eastbound and Salt Lake City westbound. No decision has yet been made about alternate transportation to the bypassed stops. 

Westbound, the detour will go north from Denver through Fort Collins and into Wyoming just west of Cheyenne, passing through Laramie, Rawlins, and Evanston, Wyo., and through Echo Canyon and Ogden, Utah, before resuming the normal route at Salt Lake City, all on Union Pacific-owned trackage. The eastbound Zephyr will do the reverse. This trackage — much of it part of the original transcontinental railroad and a section of the original Union Pacific with heavy freight traffic — has been without regularly scheduled passenger service since the 1997 discontinuance of Amtrak’s Chicago-Denver-Boise-Portland-Seattle Pioneer, but has hosted a number of Zephyr detours since then.

The detour provides passengers a rare chance to travel by train through Wyoming, one of only two of the continental 48 states not usually served by Amtrak trains.

Amtrak officials did not confirm or deny the schedule changes, but said to expect Passenger Service Notice once all of Amtrak's partners have committed to a plan.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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