W Line (RTD)

The W Line, also called the West Rail Line, is a light rail line in Denver, Lakewood, and Golden, Colorado, United States. The W Line was the first part of FasTracks to break ground, on May 16, 2007. The line, the only line to traverse the West Corridor, opened for service on Friday, April 26, 2013.[1]

W Line
6th Avenue Freeway Bridge.jpg
W Line bridge over 6th Avenue near the Federal Center
OwnerRegional Transportation District
LocaleDenver Metropolitan Area
TerminiUnion Station
Jefferson County Government Center–Golden
WebsiteOfficial website
TypeLight rail
SystemRegional Transportation District
Operator(s)Regional Transportation District
OpenedApril 26, 2013
Line length12.1 mi (19.47 km)
Number of tracks1–2
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead lines, 750 V DC
Route diagram

Union Station
Amtrak  A  B  G  N 
 C  E 
Pepsi Center–Elitch Gardens
Empower Field at Mile High
Auraria West
 C  E 
Fare Zone Boundary
US 6 (6th Avenue)
Federal Center
Up arrowdouble track
Down arrowsingle track
Red Rocks College
Fare Zone Boundary
US 6 (
6th Avenue/
Indiana Street Bridge
Jefferson County
Government Center/Golden


The Denver, Lakewood and Golden Railroad started operations in the area in 1893, switching to electric traction by 1909 as the Denver and Intermountain Railroad. The route ran from the downtown Denver interurban loop, through the Lakewood Dry Gulch near 13th Avenue and continued out to Golden. Interurban service continued until 1950, when all Denver area trolley and interurban service ceased.[2]

Plans to resurrect a railway line from Denver to Golden were advanced in the mid-1970s and in the 1980s RTD purchased the right-of-way to an unused rail corridor between the two cities.[3] A Major Investment Study conducted in 1997 stated the need for a rapid transit corridor through the region, and settled on 13th Avenue as the locally preferred alternative. The Environmental Impact Statement was started in 2001 and finished with a Record of Decision or "ROD" in 2004.[4] A "rail-pulling" ceremony was held on the 13th Avenue corridor on May 16, 2007 and construction started in earnest in early 2008.[5]

As project costs climbed above the initial estimates, cuts were made, including reducing the line from a double track to a single track operation from west of the Federal Center Station to the end of the line at the Jefferson County Government Center.[6]

The first full test run of the line happened Jan. 3, 2013 in anticipation of the official opening, April 26, 2013, eight months ahead of schedule.[7]


The W Line follows the Central Platte Valley Corridor (CPV) from Union Station, stopping at Pepsi Center/Elitch Gardens, Sports Authority Field at Mile High and a relocated Auraria West Campus station. It then leaves the CPV corridor, following a new bridge over the UP/BNSF Consolidated Main Line, traveling under Interstate 25, over the South Platte River. The corridor then travels west along the Lakewood Dry Gulch and 13th Avenue until it reaches the Lakewood Industrial Park, where it turns south along the Remington spur to reach the Denver Federal Center. From the Federal Center the line narrows to a single track line and travels west along U.S. 6 and Colfax Avenue to the western terminus at Jefferson County Government Center in Golden. This section is single track with the exception of an intermediate stop at Red Rocks Community College, which is used as a passing siding.[8]

The W Line is the first light rail route in metro Denver to make extensive use of gated grade crossings within its right-of-way (there were only four such grade crossings on the previously existing network). Some of the route goes through residential areas and concerns about noise led to an innovative solution for the warning system at crossing gates. The warning bells will adjust their volume in response to the ambient noise resulting in 50-70 dB during the evening hours compared to the standard volume of 90-100 dB.[3]

Four stations along the route were in use previously, including the Auraria West station which was relocated approximately 300 feet (91 m) to the north, and eleven new stations were built for the line.[9][10] Three different fare zones exist along the W Line.[11]


Name Opening Year Interchange Municipality Park and ride?
W Line (Union Station – Jefferson County Government Center/Golden)
Union Station 2002  C  &  E  Lines
Ski Train
FREE MallRide
(16th St)
Denver No
Pepsi Center–Elitch Gardens 2002  C  &  E  Lines Denver No
Empower Field at Mile High 2002  C  &  E  Lines Denver No
Auraria West 2002  C  &  E  Lines Denver No
Decatur–Federal 2013 None Denver Yes
Knox 2013 None Denver No
Perry 2013 None Denver No
Sheridan 2013 None Denver / Lakewood Yes
Fare Zone Boundary
Lamar 2013 None Lakewood No
Lakewood–Wadsworth 2013 None Lakewood Yes
Garrison 2013 None Lakewood No
Oak 2013 None Lakewood Yes
Federal Center 2013 None Lakewood Yes
Red Rocks College 2013 None Lakewood No
Fare Zone Boundary
Jefferson County Government Center–Golden 2013 None Golden Yes


  1. ^ "RTD West Rail Line to Open Early" (PDF). Regional Transportation District.
  2. ^ "See the history and diversity of the West Corridor, RTD's FasTracks first light rail line". Kevin Flynn's Inside Lane. Archived from the original on 20 June 2010. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  3. ^ a b T.R. Witcher. "Denver Opens Long-Awaited Extension to Transit System". Civil Engineering Magazine. Archived from the original on June 9, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  4. ^ "Project History". RTD FasTracks. Regional Transportation District. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Project Background". Regional Transportation District. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  6. ^ "Transportation project more than a billion dollars over budget". 9 News. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  7. ^ "RTD's West Rail Line sees glitches on first full test run". Denver Post. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  8. ^ "FAQs". Regional Transportation District. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
  9. ^ "Auraria Campus Happenings". Auraria Higher Education Campus. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  10. ^ "Auraria Station" (PDF). Regional Transportation District. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  11. ^ RTD - West Operations Brochure.pdf

External linksEdit

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata