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Why did UP’s Operation Lifesaver visit Salida?

Brief by Central Staff

Transportation – July 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

It’s been a while since we’ve heard any gossip about the Tennessee Pass rail line from Parkdale (west end of the Royal Gorge) to Minturn and beyond. The usual chatter is that increased traffic on the Moffat Route, which runs more or less due west from Denver to Glenwood Springs and beyond, might require the Union Pacific to re-open the Tennessee Pass line to reduce congestion.

No real trains have moved on it for a decade. The rust on the rails is unbroken by any signs of recent use. Ties are rotting. Weeds and small trees grow between the tracks, and fallen rocks and small landslides are common. Technically, the line is “out of service,” and the UP, which acquired it in a 1996 merger, has announced no plans either to abandon it or re-open it.

So it was surprising to see an “Operation Lifesaver” presentation, sponsored by UP, at this year’s FIBArk festival in Salida. Operation Lifesaver focuses on preventing accidents at railroad crossings.

Why would UP bother to present it here, where there are no trains running, and thus no possibility of car-train accidents at grade crossings? Aren’t there better places to spend such resources?

Unless, of course, they plan to resume train service hereabouts. Be advised that we’ve heard little else (and nothing official or confirmable), that would indicate any such plan. This is just one of those things that makes you wonder.