The 18.5 mile (29.77km) North Metro Rail Line is a commuter railway line coming up in the city of Denver, Colorado, US. The line will run from Denver Union Station to Highway 7 via Commerce City, Thornton, and Northglenn.
On 22 March 2010 a new rapid transit system, Capital Metro, began its operations in Austin, Texas, US. It is the foremost metro system in Central Texas and connects Texas cities, Austin and Leander.
The project is part of Denver Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) FasTracks programme. Ground breaking ceremony for the new line is scheduled to take place in March 2014 and the first phase of the project is planned to be completed by January 2018.
RTD will finance the project by issuing Certificates of Participation (COPs). The line will be extended from 124th to 162nd Avenue/ Colorado Highway 7 based on the availability of further funding.
North Metro Rail Line background
RTD preferred the North Metro Rail Line as the most feasible alternative for the North Metro corridor in June 2006 after conducting detailed environmental evaluation of various possibilities and considering feedback received from public and civic bodies.
RTD secured the right-of-way for the project from Union Pacific Railroad for $119m in 2009. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed by the end of 2010 and the project was approved by Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in April 2011.
New commuter rail vehicles were purchased between 2011 and 2013, and the commuter rail maintenance facility was expanded to accommodate up to 30 trains.
The design of the commuter rail maintenance facility (CRMF) was completed in January 2013 following which various approvals and sanctions were obtained to construct the project. RTD appointed Regional Rail Partners (RRP), a joint venture between Balfour Beatty and Graham, to design and construct the rail line from Denver Union Station to 124th Avenue, with an option to extend the line further to 62nd Avenue.
Details of the Denver metro
The North Metro line will be an electrified commuter rail line with six intermediate stations at National Western Stock Show (National Western Complex), and 70th, 88th, 104th 112th and 124th Avenues. It will be later extended with two new stations at 144th and 162nd Avenue.
The project will share many common elements with the Eagle P3 commuter project, which is also a part of the FastTracks programme. The common features such as similar railcars, common commuter rail maintenance facility, common signal and electrical components, and a single contractor to regulate train operations once the lines are open will enable easier maintenance of the project infrastructure.
The FasTracks programme, which is estimated to cost $6.7bn to be spent over 12 years, will add 122 miles (196km) of commuter and light-rail services in addition to 18 miles (29km) of bus services in the Denver district.
The £209m ($343m) contract to design and build the railway line was awarded to Regional Rail Partners (RRP) in December 2013.
AECOM was chosen to provide design for the first two segments of the line. The scope of work included design services for the tracks, stations, roadways, drainage and other utilities, parkways, bridges, MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) and transit systems coordination.
RTD signed an easement agreement with Suncor Energy (US) Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Suncor Energy, for the pipeline and bridge easements along the North Metro Rail Line and Utility Corridor.
Rolling stock for the North Metro Line
The North Metro Rail will be serviced by Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) manufactured by Hyundai-Rotem. Each car, with a capacity to carry up to 232 passengers, will have a maximum operating speed of 79mph.
RTD purchased 56 commuter vehicles of which 50 are meant for the Eagle P3 project and the remaining six for the North Metro Rail Line.