Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) on Sept. 21 marked the first anniversary of the 13-mile Phase 1 section of its 18.5-mile North Metro Rail (N Line) commuter railroad in Colorado.
Regional Rail Partners, a consortium of Graham Contracting Ltd., Balfour Beatty US and Hamon Infrastructure, built Phase 1 under a $343 million design and construction contract awarded in November 2013. Groundbreaking took place in March 2014. The north-south line is operated by a fleet of six Hyundai Rotem two-car EMUs. Since its inauguration in 2020, trains have traveled more than 310,000 in-service miles between Denver Union Station via Commerce City and Northglenn to Eastlake•124th Station in Thornton (see map below).
The N Line is the first commuter rail service operated by RTD. Denver Transit Partners runs RTD’s three other commuter lines: the University of Colorado A Line, and the B and G lines. RTD continues to maintain and operate its own light rail and bus services.
A year in and N Line service availability and on-time performance have been consistently above 90%, according to Allen Miller, RTD Deputy Assistant General Manager for Commuter Rail. “For a new railroad to open up with Positive Train Control in the U.S. and still maintain those numbers, is impressive,” he said. (The line is equipped PTC technology from Wabtec.)
The corridor will extend 5.5 miles to North Adams County and include two additional stations as funds become available, according to RTD. The entire 18.5-mile N Line is part of the agency’s 2004 voter-approved FasTracks program to expand transit across the Denver metro region.
N Line’s first year, by the numbers:
• 21,840 N Line trips traveled in its first year.
• 12 railcars (6 married pairs) serve the N Line.
• 10 rail bridges.
• 7 stations, including Union Station.
• 6 at-grade railroad crossings.
• 5 Park-n-Rides; 2,480 parking spaces.
• 2 miles: approximate length of N Line’s Skyway Bridge. Designed by Stantec, it is Colorado’s longest bridge.
• 2 ADA-compliant seating areas per railcar (4 per 2-car train).
• $3 local/$5.25 regional one-way ticket.