Digest: Denver RTD CEO questions plans for Boulder-Longmont commuter rail

News Wire Digest second section for Jan. 14: Colorado, Midland & Pacific responds to rival's request to see Tennessee Pass lease; Long Island Rail Road issues new schedules effective Jan. 25
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A Denver RTD commuter train heads downtown from Denver International Airport. The new head of the RTD is questioning whether a commuter rail line to Boulder and Longmont is the best transit option.
TRAINS: David Lassen

More Thursday morning rail news:

New RTD CEO casts doubt on plans for commuter rail line to Boulder and Longmont

The new head of Denver’s Regional Transportation District is questioning whether a long-planned, voter-approved commuter rail line to Boulder and Longmont, Colo., is the best option to provide transit service. Colorado Public Radio reports CEO and General Manager Debra Johnson questioned the extension of the commuter rail B Line from Westminster to Longmont, now estimated to cost $1.5 billion. "While we're fixated on rail because it's sexy and everyone wants to ride the iron horse, we have to keep in mind what might be more viable," Johnson told a group of Boulder-area officials. She said projected ridership — 5,400 daily, or 1,400 for a rush-hour-only plan — is not sufficient to attract federal funding. Buses and other modes might be more appropriate, she said, while rail service might be provided proposed Front Range passenger rail project [see “Report estimates cost to start passenger service for Colorado’s Front Range at up to $2.5 billion,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 5, 2020.]

Colorado, Midland & Pacific asks STB to turn down competing company's request to see lease
Colorado, Midland & Pacific Railway, the Rio Grande Pacific subsidiary seeking to lease Colorado’s Tennessee Pass line from Union Pacific, has asked the Surface Transportation Board to turn down a request for access to its lease agreement with UP. In a filing responding to the request by Colorado Pacific and its parent company, KCVN, Colorado, Midland & Pacific writes that the board should not allow Colorado Pacific “to use the board’s good offenses to interfere with parties’ private negotiations … It is painfully obvious from the Motion to Reject simultaneously filed with this Motion For Access, [Colorado Pacific] is attempting to have the Board deny CMP’s lease of the line so that CP can again seek to lease or acquire the line.” Colorado Pacific, which had an attempt to force sale of the line turned down by the board last year [see “Regulators toss out effort ...,” Trains News Wire, March 18, 2020], filed its request last week [see “Colorado Pacific files objections with STB …,” News Wire, Jan. 11, 2021].

Long Island Rail Road issues new schedules effective Jan. 25
The Long Island Rail Road has released new schedules effective Jan. 25, 2021, which will change peak-hour service on nine of the LIRR’s 11 branch lines. Levels of off-peak service will not change, but there will be some schedule adjustments. The changes reflect ridership that is at 25% to 30% of pre-pandemic levels, with most of the decrease coming during peak hours. “As we continue to support the essential workers who form our core ridership, we are sizing our schedules to meet current demand and support critical infrastructure work to renew, upgrade and expand the LIRR’s infrastructure,” the railroad’s president, Phil Eng, said in a press release. “We continuously monitor ridership closely and we are ready to adjust our scheduled as necessary to meet demand as it continues to evolve.” The new schedules are available here, and on the LIRR and MTA smartphone apps.

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