RTD's airport rail car model takes off from Union Station: Where does it go now?

This afternoon, the full-scale model of a rail car that will run to DIA is scheduled to depart from Union Station, where it's been displayed for five weeks to gather feedback. But unlike the real DIA train cars of the future, this one won't be departing on rails. The 10,700-pound unit will be lifted through the air courtesy of a giant crane, placed on a trailer and driven to a storage facility. So what happens to the funny little train car after that?

The model car was provided by the contractor building the new trains, since RTD has never had a train of this kind before and folks wanted to get an idea of what, exactly, the rail cars would look like as the rebirth of Denver's Union Station unfolds. And according to Kevin Flynn, RTD spokesman for the project, the 7,000-plus people who took a faux ride on the faux car over the past five weeks -- from tourists from Japan and Germany to the crowds using the light rail to get to Rockies games -- offered a lot of responses. Stuff they liked? Flynn says visitors gave thumbs up to the spaciousness of the car and the fact that all train doors will be level with station platforms, which means mobility-impaired riders can board at any entrance. Stuff that might need some work? The limited storage space for luggage and the fact that a service dog who stepped aboard had a hard time figuring out where to stand on the car.

There were a few odd encounters on the train, too, says Flynn -- like the wedding party that decided to have a few of their album photos taken there (how romantic). And the "plankers" who showed up, who, as part of the internationally recognized "lying-down game," lay face down, stiff as a board, across the seats and posted photos of themselves online. Um, yeah.

So what happens now to the make-believe train car? "We are still going to show this model to the public and special-interest groups," Flynn notes. One location may be in the center of DIA's main concourse, where the decorative fountain used to be. That is, if they can actually get the darned thing inside. Flynn, who's well versed in DIA conspiracy theories, has a suggestion as to how to do that: ""They should bring it in via the underground runway."

And after that? There's no possibility of the model actually riding the rails, Flynn concedes, since it's just a steel and plywood mock-up of the front third of the 85-foot rail car's interior. (Flynn admits that the picture of the rest of the car's interior that bookends one end of the model is realistic enough that they decided to cover it with safety tape, so nobody would pull a Wile E. Coyote and try to walk into the image.)

Who knows, jokes Flynn: "Maybe we could put it on Craigslist."

There's surely a better use for a make-believe full-size section of a rail car. Anyone have any suggestions?

As for your first thought, you dirty little buggers: No, it won't fit up there, so don't even suggest it.

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