FRA could shut down Denver airport line because of crossing-gate issues

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An RTD A Line train from the Denver Airport decends the bridge across Interstate 70 and Airport Boulevard on its way to downtown. The A Line faces the threat of closure by the Federal Railroad Adminstration because of ongoing crossing-gate issues.
TRAINS: David Lassen

DENVER — Denver’s troubled A Line commuter rail service to Denver International Airport may face a shutdown by the federal government if it doesn’t find a solution to ongoing crossing-gate issues, Colorado Public Radio reports.

Those crossing-gate problems required the RTD and its operator, Denver Transit Partners, to receive a waiver from the Federal Railroad Administration to operate despite crossing gates that have not reliably met the requirement for activating within the allotted time period before a train arrives. Denver Transit Partners has hired flaggers to protect those crossings, the subject of a lawsuit and countersuit between the operator and the RTD. [See “Problems with Denver airport rail line lead to lawsuit,” Trains News Wire, Sept. 21, 2018, and “Denver RTD files countersuit against commuter-train operator,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 15, 2018.]

But in a Nov. 15 letter to the RTD, Robert Lauby, the FRA’s associate administrator for railroad safety and chief safety officer, told the RTD it had 30 days to submit a plan for correcting its grade crossing issues within one year. If the RTD fails to do so, the letter said, the FRA will consider actions “potentially including enhanced enforcement, modification of the existing waiver — including by imposing additional conditions as necessary for rail safety and/or reducing the duration of the waiver — or revoking the waiver.”

Lauby’s letter noted that in one week in August 2018, FRA inspectors found 63 instances where warning times did not meet the standards required in the waiver. “This level of noncompliance with the conditions of the waiver is unacceptable.”

Similar crossing issues also led the FRA to decline to provide a waiver to begin operating of the G Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge, Colo., which was supposed to have opened in August 2016.

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