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The Southwest Chief rolls west toward Trinidad and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The first phase of a proposed Front Range passenger rail system from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs would cost up to $2.5 billion and see two to six daily round trips, a new report from the project team estimates.

The Dec. 4 update from the Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Commission and the Colorado Department of Transportation also noted that the top speed of trains would be 79 miles per hour and would focus on sharing trackage with Class I freight railroads, “with some track improvements.”

“This approach allows for a starter service and ultimately supports the rail commission's longer-term vision,” said Carla Perez, senior strategic consultant for engineering company HDR, according to CPR.

The first phase would also include one to two daily round trips between Colorado Springs and Pueblo at an estimated cost of up to $300 million. A phased approach to high-speed rail would, in part, build a “culture of passenger rail” in the state, which currently has two Amtrak long-distance trains and electrified commuter rail service in the Denver metro area.

A “final vision” of the 191-mile corridor would entail 24 weekday round trips, a maximum speed of 110 miles per hour and annual ridership of up to 2.2 million passengers.

CPR reported that identifying a funding stream and performing an environmental would still need to occur, with trains at least five years away from starting service.

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