There has been a decent amount of discussion in New Mexico over the future of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief. The train runs on the tracks that were purchased by the State for the Rail Runner and run from Raton in the north through Albuquerque. The train then runs West through Gallup and Grants, but New Mexico doesn’t own those tracks.
Amtrak is demanding improvements to the tracks or they won’t run the trains anymore. As noted in the story, Gov. Martinez put up $1 million of our tax dollars as a “down payment” on the $4 million annually that Amtrak is asking for states through which the Southwest Chief runs.
The interview is below. My interview starts around the halfway mark. One interesting note is that the reporter who did the story is based out of Los Angeles. Even though the Southwest Chief travels between New Mexico and Los Angeles, as he notes, he flew home.
3 Replies to “Discussing Amtrak’s Southwest Chief w/ NPR’s Morning Edition”
There is no reason for NM to pump millions into Amtrak to keep it running on its present route. It needs to be rerouted through Clovis and into Belen. The riders destined to ABQ or SFE can use the wonderful Richardson Rail to get there. Riders cannot get to SFE now. They have to take a connection shuttle from Lamy which is a real lame connection. The southern track is all new 80 mph double track. Just last weekend I had a mile long freight train pass me and I was doing 70. Rerouting would be a blessing for passengers and maybe generate a few bucks for the RR.
Just parking the Richardson Rail Runner would save the State about 22 million a year. That doesn’t seem to me to be a difficult decision! If funding Amtrak to the tune of 4 million a year is a good idea, at least let’s park the Richardson train so we’re not at another net loss. For a State that is clearly struggling economically I simply don’t understant why we feel the need to lose 22 million annually on a train we don’t need. I would guess the school systems would love some of that money!
Having completed a cross-Canada train trip, Vancouver to Halifax (First Class! With overnights in Vancouver, Kamloops, Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax), among other wonderful rail adventures here in the USA, I am an unequivocal supporter of excellent rail service. The USA has NOTHING like the Canadian rides, and could use them. But the NM Railrunner, if the $22 mil can be believed, divided by total trip/ridership, is WAY out of line. (What would be the subsidy? Send me a check.) And Albuquerque/Santa are not big customers (I think Taos Ski Valley generates more train-derived income)