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    Posted Friday, January 14 2005 at 1057 h MST
    The Aspen Times has a reasonable article on where we are after Thursday's RFTA meeting. Read it here. One thing that the article doesn't mention is that this isn't necessarily an issue of can the tracks be used right now, but of corridor protection. Once the Aspen Branch becomes a trail, there's little to no chance it could ever be converted back to being a railway. There simply would be too much public outcry at ripping up a trail to put rails back in. - NDHolmes

    Posted Wednesday, January 12 2005 at 1140 h MST
    Here's a bit of update I've gleaned from this morning's updates on last night's derailment: The westbound Zephyr went on the ground last night at Ruby Siding at 2203h, after striking a roughly 12 foot boulder that had rolled down onto the track. Ruby is where the ex-DRGW mainline joins the Colorado River at the bottom of Ruby Canyon, about four miles west of Mack and 25 miles west of Grand Junction, CO. It's virtually inaccessible by car. All three motors went on the ground, as well as the baggage and dorm cars, and sleeper car numbers 532 and 531 (which, presumably, are AMTK 32031 and AMTK 32032). Only the lead truck on the 531 derailed. Thankfully the only injuries I've heard of were minor, as previously reported.

    The relief train arrived at the site at 0230h this morning, Wednesday, 12-Jan-2005. The power was SP 107 and some UP unit, which attached to the movable cars and pulled the coaches, lounge, and diner back to Grand Junction, where the passengers were detrained and put up in local motels. The train staff was bussed to SLC to participate in the Super Zephyr (read on). (A great thanks to Ron Vane, via Trainorders, for this update - he was a passenger in 531.)

    Today's westbound Zephyr (train 5) into Denver, CO, was terminated this morning, and will be turned to run as 6 back to Chicago, IL. It should have departed around 0930h with all of last night's Denver passengers. There won't be an Amtrak 5 west of Denver today. (Thanks to Kevin Morgan for all these tidbits.)

    The eastbound so-called Super Zephyr (18 passenger cars, three motors), essentially two CZ trainsets combined to run as one monster train due to the calamities in the Sierra Nevada over the last week, was also affected. It was somewhere near Helper, UT, last night when the westbound hit the ground. It was run back to Ogden, UT, and detoured via UP's Overland mainline through Wyoming. It should arrive in Denver tonight and continue it's eastward journey. Update (12-Jan-2005 1345h): Nelson Lunt of Salt Lake emailed to tell me the Super Zephyr is no more as of this morning. 53 and 97 are headed west with a train, becoming train 5 out of SLC (westbound Zephyr). The longer chunk has become train 6 (eastbound Zephyr), with 184 and a UP unit for power, and is headed in via Ogden and Wyoming as Kevin reported earlier.)

    Today's real eastbound train 6 is so late that I'm not even taking guesses as to which way it's going yet. Amtrak seems to think it'll run via the Rio Grande. It's nearly 12 hours late according to Amtrak, and expected into Grand Junction around 2130h tonight.

    That's all for now, but it's still raining and snowing here in Colorado, so we may be in for yet another interesting day. Update (12-Jan-2005 1345h): CNN has picked up the story here, and KKCO, the NBC affiliate in GJC, has picked it up here. -

    Posted Wednesday, January 12 2005 at 0941 h MST
    As many of you know, the Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA) owns the ex-DRGW Aspen Branch, with rails extending south out of Glenwood Springs to somewhere beyond Carbondale at this point. At this Thursday's RFTA meeting (13-Jan-2005, at 0830h in the Carbondale Town Hall), RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship will recommend that the line be removed and sold for scrap value. The line is currently being used for speeder runs such as this one in late 2002, but really it's about protecting a valuable rail corridor between Glenwood and Aspen for future commuter rail use. Once it becomes a trail, it will be very hard to convert back to a railroad, probably facing much more public opposition and effectively killing it for any future use. If you want to help stop destruction of yet another rail corridor, showing up in person would be best, but a phone call or an email in support would be helpful. Contact me via the email link at the end if you need contact information. - NDHolmes

    Posted Tuesday, January 11 2005 at 2305 h MST
    The word on the DRGW list is that Amtrak 5, the westbound California Zephyr, is on the ground at Mack, CO. Mack, for reference, is just about twenty miles west of Grand Junction, CO. The good news is that injuries are reported as only minor and apparently the cars are all upright, though leaning a bit. More as I hear it. Update (1/11 - 2346h): From Chris via the DRGW list, UP DS78 has taken Mack to Ruby out of service, and all three motors are off the track, along with a mail car, a food car, and the lead truck of a passenger car. Apparently they hit a 12ft. boulder, presumably loosened due to rain. At least one of the units has a damaged fuel tank. - NDHolmes

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