USA: Denver RTD’s light rail R Line was officially inaugurated on February 24 with a ceremony at Iliff station, where the City of Aurora operates a 600-space multi-storey park and ride facility. Following the opening, free travel was provided for the rest of the day, with trains running every 15 min to give local residents a chance to sample the new service. Public celebrations were held at both Iliff and Aurora stations.

Under development since 2012, as part of RTD’s FasTracks programme, the tangential suburb-to-suburb route includes 16·9 km of new construction to link the existing I-225 and East Rail lines. Starting from the existing H Line terminus at Nine Mile in the southeast of the city, the new tracks run north along the I-225 orbital motorway corridor, looping away from the road to serve the Aurora city centre, and then turning northwest through Colfax and Fitzsimons to terminate at Peoria. Here, an interchange with the University of Colorado A Line commuter rail route provides connections to the city centre and Denver International Airport.

Partly constructed in conjunction with a Colorado state-funded road widening scheme, the line has been built by Kiewit Infrastructure Co. Completion had been anticipated by the end of 2016, but was delayed by technical commissioning problems. Park-and-ride facilities are provided at four stops, offering a total of 1 649 spaces.

With the start of revenue operation on February 25, R Line services will run for 35·4 km between Peoria and Lincoln, using part of the H and E lines once served by a short-lived shuttle between Nine Mile and Lincoln. The route will serve 16 stops in total, with trains every 30 min off-peak and every 15 min at peak times.

In addition to the R Line service, the 15 min interval H Line between central Denver and Nine Mile via the Southeast LRT is being extended over the new tracks to serve Iliff and Florida.

  • Read more about the Denver FasTracks programme in the June 2016 issue of Metro Report International, available to subscribers in our digital archive.