Front Range passenger rail not happening any time soon

Combined with some $5 million it has set aside, $1 million from the state and a $5.6 million federal grant Amtrak will conduct track and infrastructure improvements for the Southwest Chief between Trinidad, Colorado, Lamy and Los Cerrillos, New Mexico. 

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Rio Metro Transportation District, which operates the New Mexico Rail Runner, will lay new ties along a 31-mile stretch of track south of Raton Pass, replace some 12 miles of bolted rail with welded rail between Lamy and Los Cerrillos and complete installation of a Positive Train Control system. 

Earlier this year Game of Thrones author George RR Martin and two other New Mexico celebrities purchased the Santa Fe Southern Railroad and the depot in Lamy. The State of New Mexico bought the track bed that Amtrak's Southwest Chief uses from just north of Lamy to Behlen south of Albuquerque from the BNSF Railway when the Rail Runner was built. BNSF owns virtually all the rail rights of way in New Mexico. SFSR was featured in the Breaking Bad episode, Dead Freight
“Our past and current investments, from Kansas through Colorado and New Mexico, demonstrate our commitment to the Chief route and also preserve this segment for eventual inclusion in a north-south connection along the Front Range between Denver and Albuquerque, via Colorado Springs and Pueblo,” Bill Flynn, Amtrak’s president and CEO, said in a news release. [Albuquerque Journal
Amtrak has long expressed interest in establishing passenger rail service along the Front Range but that "project is a long way away from reality." 

As rail coal traffic dies Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and the Big Sky Rail Authority have moved nine counties to restore the North Coast Hiawatha line through southern Montana after Amtrak ended service in 1979. A Front Range route would connect the Southwest Chief to the Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana through Denver, Cheyenne and Gillette, Wyoming and intersect with the North Coast Hiawatha line at Laurel, Montana.

ip photo is of the Lamy depot.

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