Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New Mexico Rail Runner could go into Denver, El Paso


Railroads are struggling to meet the Dec. 31 deadline to install Positive Train Control.
Amtrak and the Kansas City Terminal Railway say they have reached a tentative agreement about which party is responsible for paying for more than $30 million in safety upgrades, cooling the latest dispute that threatened the Southwest Chief passenger service in New Mexico. The route also includes stops in New Mexico at Raton, Las Vegas, Lamy, Albuquerque and Gallup. The Kansas City Terminal Railway had said that, because the Southwest Chief’s passenger service along its route triggered the federal requirement for safety upgrades, Amtrak should pay for the technology’s installation. Amtrak disagreed because it doesn’t own the tracks. [Santa Fe New Mexican]
A TIGER VII grant application requests $15,210,143 to rebuild track in New Mexico and Colorado.

At a meeting in La Junta on 2 July ColoRail provided an overview of its long range priorities for rail transportation in Colorado.
First is the maintenance of the present route of the Southwest Chief, vital to the transportation needs of Southeast Colorado. Next is the establishment of north-south connectivity along the route of I-25, which is dangerously overcrowded, and the connection by rail to Pueblo and Walsenburg, which will increase ridership exponentially. The vision for ColoRail: fast, frequent and safe passenger rail services. Connect Front Range communities, enabling single day round trips for business and pleasure. [La Junta Tribune-Democrat]
About 126,000 boardings and departures by Southwest Chief riders are made each year in New Mexico. Amtrak says it employs 57 New Mexicans and total wages were about $5.2 million in 2014.

New Mexico's GOP representative voted with the state's Democrats for final passage of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015.

The Santa Fe Southern Railroad owns the Lamy depot and the 22-mile spur between the historic community and Santa Fe. Calling itself Train X and after moving the company's rail assets to Santa Fe, Las Vegas Railway Express got some experience operating a 'party train' over the line. The company quit operations of 3½-hour round trips that began in July and abruptly ended at the end of September announcing sale of the rights to an undisclosed company.

The Rail Runner between south of ABQ and Santa Fe goes through several pueblos and is well-supported with stops in each community: it has brought at least access to prosperity in an historically poor state.

A bi-annual survey has found 86 percent of regular riders of the New Mexico Rail Runner rate the service very high. 77 percent of the passengers believe price structure is good or excellent.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation said it can’t afford PTC which could cost taxpayers more than $50 million noting the Rail Runner can’t go any faster than 78 mph by regulation.

Denver International Airport is Hell to fly into and then finding a way back into the city complicated and expensive. If the political will existed the Rail Runner could access the Lamy spur from Santa Fe and go directly into Denver serving Colorado communities along the way.

Amtrak has shown zero interest in connecting El Paso with Shelby, Montana so why not reroute the Southwest Chief through Amarillo and pass the savings to a group like the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority.

Equip the Rail Runner to connect with Amtrak farther south in New Mexico then on to El Paso and put the Rail Runner into downtown Denver to connect with the California Zephyr, maybe into Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Anyone with me?

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