Person biking past the D Line on the track in downtown Denver

Light Rail Speed Restrictions

Update: July 22, 2024

Slow Zone #1

  • Colorado Station to Yale Station
    Isolated sections of track between Colorado and Yale stations have been identified for maintenance work.
  • Yale Station to Southmoor Station
    Isolated sections of track between Yale and Southmoor stations have been identified for replacement.

Slow Zone #2

  • Belleview Station to Orchard Station
    All speed restrictions have been lifted along this segment of the Southeast Corridor.
  • Orchard Station to Arapahoe at Village Center Station
    All speed restrictions have been lifted along this segment of the Southeast Corridor.
  • Arapahoe at Village Center Station to Dry Creek Station
    All northbound speed restrictions have been lifted.
  • County Line Station to Lincoln Station
    Isolated sections of track between County Line and Lincoln stations have been identified for maintenance work.

Slow Zone #3

  • Nine Mile Station to Dayton Station
    Isolated sections of track between Nine Mile and Dayton stations have been identified for maintenance work.
  • Dayton Station to Belleview Station
    Isolated sections of track between Dayton and Belleview stations have been identified for maintenance work.

Slow Zone #4

  • Englewood Station to Oxford•City of Sheridan Station
    Isolated sections of track between Englewood and Oxford•City of Sheridan stations have been identified for maintenance work.
  • Oxford•City of Sheridan Station to Littleton•Downtown Station
    Isolated sections of track between Oxford•City of Sheridan and Littleton•Downtown stations have been identified for maintenance work.

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Speed Restrictions

Speed restrictions are in place for D, E, H, and R line trains. The 10 mile-per-hour speed restrictions were first implemented in Zones 1 and 2 on June 4, and in Zones 3 and 4 on July 12. Restrictions will be in place until necessary preventative maintenance work is completed. As repairs are made to isolated sections of track, speed restrictions will continue to be lifted.

What are speed restrictions?

A speed restriction is a section of track where trains run at slower-than-normal speeds due to any number of ride quality, track, or maintenance issues. Speed restrictions, also known as slow zones, are put in place to ensure customers and employees are safe until any necessary repairs or preventive maintenance work is completed. Track conditions that make speed restrictions necessary can develop for several reasons, including the age of the rail’s infrastructure and weather.

Why were speed restrictions implemented?

In May 2024, RTD staff began using an enhanced inspection methodology on the Southeast Corridor’s light rail track. The thorough and comprehensive inspections included an examination of the track, ties, ballast, clips, and other related infrastructure.

The intent of RTD’s inspections is to identify preventive maintenance that may need to be addressed in the near-term or future. A number of minor issues and cosmetic defects were discovered during RTD’s recent track inspection, and speed restrictions have been temporarily put into place until maintenance issues are resolved.

Customer Support

RTD appreciates everyone’s patience during the temporary impact to light rail services. Customers are encouraged to plan ahead and allow for extra time to reach their destinations. To assist customers impacted by the speed restrictions, RTD provides a number of resources and support options.

  • Service Alerts – text, email, and online notices that provide real-time information on delays, detours, disruptions, cancellations, and the resumption of service
  • Impact Team – RTD is dispatching employee ambassadors to various rail stations and bus stops to assist customers with trip planning and to provide disruption information
  • Customer Care – customers are encouraged to call Customer Care at 303.299.6000 for help planning trips, making connections, or navigating the disruptions
  • Next Ride App– customers can use RTD’s Next Ride app to plan trips and learn about disruptions
  • Social Media –RTD’s digital team is available via social media to provide customized help and assistance

Will RTD provide bus shuttles for customers impacted by the speed restrictions?

No. RTD will not provide bus shuttles between stations in the Southeast Corridor’s slowdown zones while trains continue operating along the alignment. The agency also does not have the required people power resources to expand its bus operations at a magnitude necessary to support bus shuttles. However, as overnight maintenance work impacts light rail service, shuttles will be provided.

How will RTD update customers about service impacts and repair work?

Maintenance and repair work timelines will be updated online and shared with customers and the public through media advisories, Service Alerts, and social media. Customers impacted by the speed restrictions are encouraged to check this webpage or sign up for Service Alerts.

Additional Transit Options

RTD Bus Routes

RTD has a multiple bus routes operating along the Southeast Corridor to support customers. Specifically, the routes below provide regular service and connections to some of the impacted stations served by the E, H, and R lines.

Route 21 - Evans Avenue Connects Colorado Station (E and H lines) to Evans Station (D Line)
Route 40 - Colorado Boulevard Connects Southmoor Station (E and H lines), Colorado Station (E and H lines), and 40th•Colorado Station (A Line)
Route 46 - South DahliaConnects Colorado Station, Yale Station, and Southmoor Station (E and H lines)
Route 66 - Arapahoe Road Connects Arapahoe at Village Center Station (E and R lines) to Littleton•Downtown Station (D Line)
Route 83D / 83L - Cherry Creek / Parker Road Connects Civic Center Station (Downtown Denver) to Nine Mile Station (H and R lines)
Route 153 - Chambers RoadConnects Arapahoe at Village Center Station (E and R lines), Aurora Metro Center (R Line), and Peoria Station (A and R lines)
Route 402L - Highlands Ranch Parkway Connects County Line Station (E and R lines) to Littleton•Mineral Station (D Line)
Route AT - Arapahoe County / Denver AirportConnects Arapahoe at Village Center Station (E and R lines) and Nine Mile Station (H and R lines) to Denver International Airport
Route P - Parker / Denver Connects Civic Center Station (Downtown Denver) and Parker

Bustang South Line

RTD customers have an option to use CDOT’s Bustang service during the temporary disruption. RTD customers can ride the Bustang South Line between Sky Ridge Station, Colorado Station, and Denver Union Station using RTD fares until September 14.

Customers simply need to show a valid RTD fare to the operator while boarding Bustang at any of the three stations.

Link On Demand Shuttle

Individuals traveling anywhere in Lone Tree and Meridian can use the Link On Demand shuttle service to access light rail stations in that area.

The below map highlights where temporary slow zones are occurring in areas between stations.

Maintenance Timeline

Maintenance work is currently underway. The resumption of normal train speeds is dependent on how quickly repairs are made to the isolated sections of track. As repairs are made, speed restrictions will continue to be lifted. A timeline of the maintenance work and situational updates are available online.

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State of Good Repair

In 2023, RTD launched the strategic initiative of Back to Basics, a priority emphasis on maintaining all of the agency’s assets in a state of good repair. Like other mass transit agencies, RTD’s assets are at varying ages within their useful life.

All of RTD’s fixed assets are regularly monitored and inspected to ensure they support operationally safe, accessible, and dependable services. Inspections are also a critical component of effective rail management, contributing to the safe, reliable, and efficient operation of RTD’s rail system.

Why is it important for RTD to maintain its assets in a state of good repair?

Regular inspections guarantee that the public’s previous investments in RTD’s system remain intact. Maintaining assets in a state of good repair also ensures that the light rail system is reliable and operationally safe.

Light Rail Inspections

RTD conducts regular inspections of its entire light rail system. The intent of inspections is to identify preventative maintenance that may need to be addressed in the near-term or future. This proactive approach allows the agency to ensure all rail assets are in a state of good repair.

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Safety

RTD always adheres to the highest level of safety standards, even when it results in an impact to scheduled services and on-time performance. Agency decisions are based in applying the highest level of standards to prioritize safe operations. The Southeast Light Rail Line remains safe for RTD to continue running trains. If, at any time, the track is not safe for operations, light rail services would immediately cease. RTD proactively issued the speed restrictions out of an abundance of caution.

RTD’s track inspections are similar to road inspections conducted to find and fix potholes. A road that needs repaving is still safe to drive on, but drivers may need to slow down near potholes out of an abundance of caution.

Does the presence of a speed restriction indicate that the track is unsafe?

Speed restrictions are temporarily applied to a section of track until necessary maintenance work is performed. The Southeast Light Rail Corridor remains safe for RTD to continue running trains. If, at any time, the track was deemed not safe for operations, light rail services would immediately cease.

RTD proactively issued the current speed restrictions out of an abundance of caution. Agency decisions are based in applying the highest level of standards to prioritize safe operations.

Are speed restrictions used at other transit agencies?

Yes. Speed restrictions are regularly implemented by transit agencies to ensure rail operations remain safe. There are many recent examples of other mass transit agencies implementing speed restrictions. For example, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) currently has a number of speed restrictions in place across its system to support ongoing track renewal work.

Southeast Corridor

The Southeast Light Rail Corridor is approximately 20 miles of track that runs along I-25 from Broadway in Denver to RidgeGate Parkway Station in Lone Tree. Construction on the light rail corridor began in 2001 and was completed in September 2006. Light rail service began in November 2006, and a 2.3-mile extension to RidgeGate Station was completed in May 2019. The Southeast Corridor includes 15 light rail stations and 12 Park-n-Rides, and it is served by the E, H, and R lines.

An Overview of Speed Restrictions

Planned Maintenance Projects Currently Underway

Coping Panels Project

RTD began a two-year maintenance project in April 2023 to repair the caps on retaining walls, also known as coping panels, that run along I-25 adjacent to the light rail alignment. The second and final phase of the Coping Panels Project began on May 26, 2024, and is scheduled to be completed in mid-September. The project requires light rail trains to single-track around work crews, which means all north- and south-bound trains use the same track in areas where crews are working.

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Downtown Rail Reconstruction Project

RTD began a full-depth reconstruction of five intersections in the Downtown Loop in May 2024. The first phase of the project, which runs through mid-September, will rebuild rail infrastructure to improve safety and mobility, address deteriorating transit infrastructure, and extend the design life of the agency’s key transportation assets. Following completion of the first phase in September, light rail service will resume in the Downtown Loop until the subsequent phases begin in 2025.

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Repairs in Action