RTD withholds $827,500 in performance payments to DIA train operator

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DENVER — Constant delays and shutdowns in service on the RTD commuter rail line between Union Station and Denver International Airport resulted in the transportation agency to withhold more than $827,500 from the company that operates the route.

RTD spokesman Scott Reed said the withholding is because of the performance by Denver Transit Partners. Performance stipulations are part of the 34-year contract between RTD and Denver Transit Partners for the operation and maintenance of the A Line.

Since opening in late April, the line has been plagued by several outages and problems with crossing gates along the 23-mile route.

Reed said RTD pays the company about $3 million a month to operate the service. He said $750,000 was withheld — $250,000 for each of the first three months — because of the crossing gate issues. An additional $77,583 was not paid because of on-time performance through July.

Reed said the $250,000-a-month withholding was mutually agreed to between the partners before the opening of the line when it became apparent there were issues.

Reed said RTD believed there was a good incentive in place because Denver Transit Partners thought it would be able to fix the crossing gate issues, but that hasn’t happened.

Denver Transit Partners also hired flaggers to stand at crossings around the clock because gates were dropping at the wrong time or not at all when trains are approaching.

Reed said he does not know when the issues will be resolved, that it’s up to Denver Transit Partners. Reed said RTD and Denver Transit Partner take the issues seriously and officials meet frequently.

The A Line has been plagued by by switching, electrical and power problems since its ballyhooed opening in April, causing passengers to miss flights or having to pay more for alternative transportation.

Bus lines are brought in to shuttle passengers when the lines are forced to close.

Crossing issues led to “severe” delays on Aug. 17. Power outages on Aug. 10 and 11 led to long delays. Train service was halted both days between the 61st and Pena Station and the airport because of a damaged power wire.

Bus shuttles operated between the station and the airport until power was restored.

There were delays on June 9 because of issues with the positive train control switch and wayside signals. On June 4 and May 22, there were delays because of crossing issues.

Power problems stopped the trains on May 16, 21, 23 and 24. On May 24, a lightning strike cut power to the line, stranding 80 passengers who had to walk on a 50-foot-high bridge.