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Union Pacific, Amtrak resume train service through Glenwood Canyon

Ike Fredregill
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
The first eastbound California Zephyr train to travel through Glenwood Canyon after the Grizzly Creek Fire ignited last week waits at the Glenwood Amtrak Station while crews remove burning logs from the train tracks on Wednesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Glenwood Springs Post Independent

After closing the railroad tracks through Glenwood Canyon last week because of the Grizzly Creek Fire, trains are again traveling through Glenwood Springs — albeit slowly, a Union Pacific spokesperson said.

“Our first train traveled through Glenwood Canyon on Monday at 8 a.m.,” UP spokesperson Raquel Espinoza said. “Typically, trains are permitted to travel at 25 mph through that 18-mile stretch of canyon, but because of the fire, the max speed was reduced to 5 mph.”

Amtrak’s California Zephyr Line continued service through Glenwood on Wednesday, but trains experienced long delays because of debris falling on the tracks, Amtrak staff said in Glenwood.

Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesperson based in Chicago, said the company spent the last week diverting trains through Wyoming when possible.

“We detoured on days UP could support it,” Magliari explained. “For us to be on other people’s railroads, we need a specialist from that company called a pilot.” 

A pilot is a person familiar with the operating characteristics of a particular railroad, who accompanies another crew while they traverse the detour, he said. 

With the UP-owned Glenwood Canyon tracks open, Amtrak is running passenger trains through the fire area when UP staff give them the green light.

“We are continuously monitoring the area and making any necessary adjustments as needed,” Espinoza said. “The safety of our employees and those people who ride along our tracks is of the utmost importance.”

A screenshot of the Amtrak map showing both east and westbound California Zephyr trains waiting at both ends of Glenwood Canyon on Wednesday afternoon after burning logs fell onto the tracks.

Back in Glenwood Springs, David Flemming, of Dayton, Ohio, and Celia Woodham, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, waited in the Glenwood Springs Station for the delayed California Zephyr No. 6 line, heading east.

“We came out of the (Empire Builder), which is out of Seattle, Washington, so we were watching the wildfires in California,” Flemming said. “We boarded this train yesterday, and we didn’t even know about Colorado wildfires.”

The duo said they enjoy taking the train, because of the ability to sit back and relax without worrying about interstate traffic. “We did a quick calculation,” Flemming said. “If we had driven and had to spend several nights in hotels, it would have cost even more than to take the train.”

Post Independent visual journalist Chelsea Self Contributed to this report.

ifredregill@postindependent.com


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