RTD started its new year with a new train set.
As with many new toys, a glitch or two was inevitable in the assembly process, and that proved true with RTD’s new west corridor light-rail line.
RTD began testing the soon-to-open line on Jan. 3, marking the first time a train had run the entire length from downtown Denver to Johnson Road in Golden under its own power.
“The ‘sweep train’ went very well,” said Jim Starling, RTD’s project manager for the west line. “We took the train out to the west end of the project. Although this wasn’t a specific test, it demonstrated that we are ready to proceed with specific testing.”
The 12.1-mile west line is scheduled to open April 26, eight months ahead of schedule. The new line will be the first in RTD’s Fastracks program, a $6.4 billion, voter-approved expansion of commuter and light-rail lines in the Denver area.
The Fastracks project, approved in 2004, will add 122 miles of expanded rail service and connect Wheat Ridge, Golden, Denver International Airport to downtown Denver.
Construction on the west corridor line began in 2007, and in 2009 a federal grant provided the remaining $300 million needed to finish the $709 million project.
When the line is up and running, the ride from Denver’s Union Station to Golden should take about 30 minutes. Yet for the initial run, the trip took about two hours, as engineers carefully checked all systems.
That extended trip down the line was extended even further when the initial sweep was delayed more than an hour.
“There was an issue that was discovered when the train entered the limits of the west rail line, Starling said.
“There was signal equipment that incorrectly configured and caused grade crossing gates to come down along the alignment. The issue was identified and corrected, and the ‘sweep’ train proceeded less than an hour and a half late. Issues like this are routine and the reason why we do this detailed testing.”
RTD will continue testing at crossings, making sure the signal system is functioning properly and that all of the power substations are operating as they should, Starling said. The tests should be completed by March 1, when conductor training will begin.
Each city along the line will throw station parties to celebrate the initial opening on April 26.
Contact Ramsey Scott at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.