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RTD slows down light rail for needed repairs

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Trains are going 10 mph in parts of the Southeast light rail corridor.

DENVER — Inching along in rush hour traffic may still be faster than light rail trains inching along next to rush hour traffic.

In May, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) conducted inspections of its light rail line along Interstate 25 and issued speed restrictions as a result of what it found.

The speed reductions, as first reported by Colorado Public Radio, have trains going 10 miles per hour in the sections between downtown and the Denver Tech Center.

Finding out what was discovered took more time than riding the light rail at reduced speeds.

In a statement responding to questions on Monday, RTD first reiterated a news release the agency sent out on Thursday that said, in part, “In May 2024, RTD staff began a regularly scheduled inspection of track along the Southeast light rail corridor. The thorough and comprehensive inspections included an examination of RTD’s light rail track, ties, ballast, clips, overhead wire system and other related infrastructure.”

The important part of the statement is this: “If, at any time, the track was not safe for operations, light rail services would immediately cease.”

That is important because of what RTD said in the next email.

“Inspections play an important role in identifying required maintenance, from replacing clips to repairing ballast and leveling track. These are the types of issues that have been identified,” an RTD spokesperson wrote.

Clips are what hold a rail line in place. Ballast is the crushed stone around the rail.

When asked additional questions about the specifics of those issues, an RTD spokesperson said they were sharing the questions with their operations team and would get back to 9NEWS.

The inspections happening on the Southeast corridor are part of a corrective action plan that state regulators, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), approved last year.

In 2022, RTD self-reported to the PUC “below industry standard” rail conditions at 19th and Stout Streets in downtown Denver.

In one photo RTD provided to the PUC, a clip was shown with a caption reading “E-Clip(s) which hold the rail in place are severely corroded and missing.”

The next caption said, “Maintaining rail gauge is no longer viable significantly increasing probability of derailment.”

That is why 9NEWS wanted to know more about the “replacing clips” portion of the response.

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RTD slows down light rail for needed repairs

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