|Union Depot, Pueblo, Colorado. It's just offices now.|
First, Pueblo's favorite roots-music band, the Haunted Windchimes, played all the train songs in their repertoire as people gathered.
|The Haunted Windchimes playing at the depot.|
In other words, when it comes to passengers moved per mile per gallon of fuel burned, trains beat everything else.
Why all the fuss? In essence, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) is not keeping up the tracks to the standard required for passenger trains. If they are not improved, Amtrak has threatened to reroute the Chief from Wichita-Amarillo-Albuquerque, cutting off western Kansas, southern Colorado, and northern New Mexico — areas that have poor air service and poor bus service.
Kansas has partnered with Amtrak and BNSF Railroad to help fund a portion of the track improvements required along the Southwest Chief route. If the track is not upgraded, Amtrak has warned that it may move its daily Chicago-to-Los Angeles passenger service to a more southern route.
|Gov. Hickenlooper says a few words.|
On the other hand, southern Colorado officials are more and more seeing an Amtrak route through Pueblo - Walsenburg - Trinidad, as compared to today's route from La Junta to Trinidad, which cuts off the I-25 corridor completely, as good for economic development and tourism.
Either way, M. and I want to keep the train running through southern Colorado, which is why we were there today, applauding with the crowd.
Airlines are increasingly abandoning mid-sized airports. Pueblo keeps a minimal level of commercial air service going only through a municipal subsidy, while Colorado Springs has seen service and passenger numbers decline, even with a new terminal building.
What is going to fill the gap? Trains, I would argue, are the best choice.