All aboard: Commuter rail service downtown to debut

RTD rail service ventures into the northern suburbs with N-Line opening Sept. 21

Scott Taylor
staylor@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/15/20

Service on RTD’s latest commuter rail corridor is set to kick off Sept. 21, with a limited amount of fanfare but free rides for the week. Thanks to COVID-19 and restrictions on public events, local …

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All aboard: Commuter rail service downtown to debut

RTD rail service ventures into the northern suburbs with N-Line opening Sept. 21

Posted

Service on RTD’s latest commuter rail corridor is set to kick off Sept. 21, with a limited amount of fanfare but free rides for the week.

Thanks to COVID-19 and restrictions on public events, local and state transportation officials are prepared to open the 13-mile train line with less fanfare than in the past. That does not mean it’s not a big deal.

“Each city is holding their own station parties and we will be live streaming our grand opening event on social media,” said Lisa Trujillo manager of N-Line project outreach for RTD. “We are limited in what we can do because of the new era we are in, with COVID-19. So we will be practicing social distancing, we will be wearing face masks and we will be checking temperatures before boarding the train.”

The first official train on RTD’s N-line commuter rail service officially is scheduled to leave Denver’s Union Station between 9-10 a.m. Sept. 21, making stops at new stations along the way for ribbon cuttings.

After stops at the National Western Complex and then 72nd Avenue in Commerce City, the train will bring RTD officials to Thornton’s 8989 Welby Road. station for a brief ribbon cutting ceremony.

Northglenn officials said they expect the train to make its first official stop at the 11355 York St. station sometime after 10:30 a.m. before continuing on to Thornton’s Eastlake Station at 12500 Claude Court between 11 a.m. and noon, where RTD is hosting its grand opening and end-of-the-line ceremony, before the train returns to Denver’s Union Station.

Route information

RTD has been testing the route since March. Trujillo said the flaggers on the route should be mostly gone — only one private crossing at 72nd Avenue will have flaggers when the line opens, she said — and quiet zones should be in place.

“We have been going along and testing has been coming along well,” she said. “So, that is our plan. That is what we are anticipating.”

The 13-mile-long route leaves Union Station and travels northeast to the National Western Center at 48th and Brighton. There, it turns north and snakes it way through Commerce City, Northglenn and Thornton. It includes six new stations, with a total of 2,480 new parking spaces.

Plans call for the trains to run every 20 minutes during morning and evening rushes, taking 29 minutes from Eastlake south to Union Station. Train service will run every 30 minutes during off-peak hours.

The train will run from 4 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 4 a.m to 2:30 a.m. on Fridays, according to the current schedule. Service will run from 5 a.m to 2:30 a.m. Saturdays and from 5 a.m. to midnight on Sundays.

Each two-car commuter rail train on the N Line will include seating for 91 passengers in each car, two ADA-compliant seating areas, luggage racks, overhead carry-on storage areas and space for skis and bikes. Passengers board at the same level as station platforms.

Free fares

RTD is offering free fares for the N-Line after the grand opening, beginning at noon on Sept. 21 and continuing through Sept. 27. After that, fares will cost $3 for a three-hour pass for the first six months of service.

“When the line opens, we are doing a fare pilot study so those fares will be considered the local $3 fares,” she said. “After that, they will become regional fares.”

Regional fares will cost $5.25 for a three-hour pass.

Bus routes change, too

The train service will create a ripple effect throughout RTD’s northern metro service routes, with changes to eight of the 17 bus routes that will connect to the rail line, with more frequent buses on the 12 and 120L routes.

For a complete list of changes, visit www.rtd-denver.com on the internet.

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