Thinking of Trains at Christmas
A model train under the Christmas tree is nostalgic decoration. Actual trains running through New Mexico (like the Southwest Chief and Rail Runner Express) have a definite history, but do they have a future? That depends on decisions made by the NMDOT in the newest New Mexico State Rail Plan. While you're enjoying a holiday break you may wish to send the NMDOT your thoughts supporting rail travel in New Mexico.
One important item from the Rail Plan is the status of Amtrak's Southwest Chief passenger train service. Amtrak is asking Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico to pick up some of the costs for track repairs and upgrades.
from Operational Challenges - Passenger Rail(page 102)
"The allocation of maintenance cost responsibilities may result in future Amtrak routing changes in New Mexico. BNSF and Amtrak are negotiating a new joint operating agreement to replace the current agreement that is set to expire in 2016. ... However, should Amtrak be required to pay the full incremental costs of maintaining the existing route, estimated to exceed $10 million per year, it may be in Amtrak’s interest to reroute the Southwest Chief to the Transcon. This would effectively eliminate Amtrak service to Raton, Las Vegas, and Lamy as well as communities in Kansas and Colorado."
If you missed the public meetings (as I did) here is your chance to comment on the NMDOT Rail Plan. The NMDOT has posted the New Mexico State Rail Plan asking for public comment through January 3, 2014 via email at Rail.Plan@state.nm.us.
Santa Fe New Mexican - Martinez: Amtrak shouldn’t stick state with large tab
Sangre de Cristo Chronicle - Coalition: Threatened railroad generates $29.3 million