Albuquerque New Mexico Rail Runner Railrunner

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Re: Alberquerque, New Mexico: Railrunner

Postby Backshophoss » Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:47 am

On March 22 the Amtrak Exibit train makes a 1 day visit to Santa Fe NM at the depot.
On April 7,a new schedule and a new station opens,Montano with a 290 parking space lot
bus connection to ABQ Ride route 157 (Kirtland AFB-North Valley-Westside Transit Center)
For Details http://riometro.org
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Re: Alberquerque, New Mexico: Railrunner

Postby Desertdweller » Fri Mar 07, 2014 7:00 pm

I generally like Governor Martinez's policies, but I think she was wrong on the Santa Fe r.o.w issue. To let go of rail r.o.ws, especially main line routes, has a crippling effect on future transportation options that can seldom be undone.

The abandonment of the route will have an effect that extends beyond the state line. It will affect rail transportation in Colorado (a state trying to rebuild its rail network), and probably affect rail traffic patterns in Kansas as well.

We need to consider the effect on rail traffic patterns in Southern Colorado. Both the ex-C&S line and the ex-D&RGW lines still connect Pueblo and Denver with Trinidad. What will happen to the ex-ATSF line from Pueblo to La Junta? What will happen to the ex-ATSF line from Trinidad to Garden City KS?

If these lines are abandoned, will there be any traffic on BNSF west of Dodge City? Dodge City, Garden City, and LaJunta are active AMTRAK stations. The only other line west out of Dodge City is an ex-ATSF short line that dead-ends in Springfield, CO.

My point is, when segments of through routes get axed in one state, the effect has a ripple effect on other nearby states. At least NM has commuter service south from Santa Fe. This should have been part of a regional passenger network linking El Paso with Denver. With the Raton Pass route gone, the only railroad north out of Santa Fe would be the abandoned D&RGW narrow-gauge route to Alamosa, CO (where it connected with the D&RGW standard gauge line to Denver).

Les
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Re: Alberquerque, New Mexico: Railrunner

Postby electricron » Fri Mar 07, 2014 7:47 pm

Your point would be more valid if Colorado had shown more interest for a regional train all the way to New Mexico, but Colorado was and still is dreaming about a high speed train that ran short of New Mexico. At times, Colorado has shown more interest in a high speed train heading west instead of one heading south and north. Without seeing any interest from Colorado and the proposed regional train you espouse, the likely only trains using the tracks north of Santa Fe would have been the Chief. Hello, those same tracks require $200 million in upgrades to keep the Chief at an acceptable speed, and the price of ownership for that corridor in New Mexico was an additional $5 million.

Here's the history of NMDOT on purchasing BNSF right-of-way per the ABQJournal:
In Phase One, the state agreed to pay BNSF $50 million for 51 miles of track between Belen and Bernalillo. Train service on that stretch began in July 2006.
In Phase Two, the state paid another $20 million for track between Bernalillo and Santa Fe. That portion of the Rail Runner service started in late 2008.
The Railrunner total capital costs exceeded $500 million.

Back in 2005, DOT officials defended buying the extra 200 miles of track as vital to the goal of creating the Rail Runner Express. BNSF wouldn't sell the 99 miles of train track needed for the Belen-to-Santa Fe commuter service without the state also pitching in to buy the additional 200 miles between Lamy and the Colorado border for an additional $5 million.

Then NMDOT Secretary Rhonda Faught wrote a column published in the Journal in December 2005, saying: "We didn't go into the deal with idea of purchasing the extra section of track, but it was a necessary part of the deal." "The important point," she wrote, "is that if we were to decide not to purchase the line from Lamy to ... Colorado, the cost would still be $75 million. I strongly believe that it is a good investment for the overall success of the commuter rail project and for New Mexico's future."
http://www.abqjournal.com/news/state/05232044state12-05-10.htm#ixzz2vKKWqHht

Then 2005 NMDOT governor was the Democrat Bill Richardson. Apparently the preliminary decision not to buy the corridor north of Lamy was decided then, although I will grant the final decision wasn't made until 2008 under tHe GOP Governor Martinez.

When BNSF eventually abandons the corridor, NM and CO could apply for some federal rail to trail funds and make a really great bike trail out of this corridor. I would hazard to suggest a bike trail might attract more tourist dollars than the Chief does today.
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Re: Alberquerque, New Mexico: Railrunner

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Mar 07, 2014 10:23 pm

Desertdweller wrote:We need to consider the effect on rail traffic patterns in Southern Colorado. Both the ex-C&S line and the ex-D&RGW lines still connect Pueblo and Denver with Trinidad. What will happen to the ex-ATSF line from Pueblo to La Junta? What will happen to the ex-ATSF line from Trinidad to Garden City KS?

If these lines are abandoned, will there be any traffic on BNSF west of Dodge City? Dodge City, Garden City, and LaJunta are active AMTRAK stations. The only other line west out of Dodge City is an ex-ATSF short line that dead-ends in Springfield, CO.


Pueblo - La Junta, the Pueblo Sub, is definitely safe. It and the Boise City Sub (La Junta, CO - Boise City, OK) are heavily used by coal traffic from the Powder River region to Texas.

Trinidad - La Junta (the north half of the Raton Sub) is probably a goner. Other members in this forum have stated that there is no on-line traffic between those points, nor is there likely to be any. Amtrak is the only user.

La Junta - Garden City is part of the La Junta Sub, which is also probably safe from the axe. It has agricultural traffic, and if I understand correctly, it also hosts through trains.

Desertdweller wrote:My point is, when segments of through routes get axed in one state, the effect has a ripple effect on other nearby states. At least NM has commuter service south from Santa Fe. This should have been part of a regional passenger network linking El Paso with Denver. With the Raton Pass route gone, the only railroad north out of Santa Fe would be the abandoned D&RGW narrow-gauge route to Alamosa, CO (where it connected with the D&RGW standard gauge line to Denver).

Les

Agreed.
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Re: Alberquerque, New Mexico: Railrunner

Postby Backshophoss » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:13 am

The Montano Station opened as planned on April 7 to little fanfare,may see some passengers changing to this station
from the crowded Los Ranchos-Journal Center station.

Rio Metro/NMRX will be hosting again on National Train Day along with Amtrak,ATSF 2926 may not make it due to
track condition of the GSA siding where the restoration of 2926 is in progress.
(The ties have turned to dust,basicly)
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Re: Alberquerque, New Mexico: Railrunner

Postby Backshophoss » Sat May 03, 2014 1:17 am

Tonight,RioMetro created a mascot,named Trax. Trax can be described to be a cross between Woody Woodpecker and
the cartoon Roadrunner. Trax will tour the system and make apperances at various locations for PR duties.
http://riometro.org for details.
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Re: Alberquerque, New Mexico: Railrunner

Postby Backshophoss » Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:01 am

After 2 bike vs Railrunner accidents(both were fatal)and an upgrade to all grade crossings in Santa Fe,
NMRX over 4 days in Jan or Feb of '15 will do"test" stops at the "Mothballed" Zia Road station,testing
the RR and traffic light signal intergration.
Upgrades have included a"Barrier" to stop bikes and people on foot from entering the tracks at
all grade crossings
Zia road is rigged for remote activation by DTMF tone code for trains stopped at station heading RR east,
there are 2 other crossing 1 ABQ,the other at Los Lunas rigged for remote activation by stopped trains.
No opening date has been set for Zia Road,the local NIMBY's are against the "test" stops,would rather
the station stay "mothballed" claiming traffic congestion.

The Santa Fe Southern was active for the summer with the"help" from "X-train" for a"dinner train"
experance,but bills were not paid,SFSR has shut down and still has the 2 LW cars from X train
stored at Santa Fe Depot. :(
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Re: Alberquerque, New Mexico: Railrunner

Postby Backshophoss » Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:49 am

The Santa Fe city council has approved plans to open the Zia Road station in the near future,and approved some
form of development at the station site as well. The testing done in Feb of this year by NMRX was sucessful.
www.kob.com for details(filler piece)
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Re: Albuquerque New Mexico Rail Runner Railrunner

Postby Jeff Smith » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:21 pm

Apparently, NM is "stuck" with the system: Washington Times

Study finds abandoning Rail Runner too expensive
<SNIP>
The study, unveiled Wednesday, found selling the commuter train isn’t feasible and switching to a bus service between Belen and Santa Fe would not save much money, The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1Q6RXgt ).
<SNIP>
The Rail Runner began service in 2006 and has since been scrutinized for its high cost. While rider fares, federal funds and tax revenue from counties exceed the rail’s $26.8 million operating cost, it does not cover debt service payments.

The state is expected to pay more than $25 million in debt service payments on the rail this year alone, with payments expected to grow to more than $110 million in both 2025 and 2026.

The study looked at replacing the Rail Runner with commuter bus service along the state’s Rio Grande corridor, but found it would take at least 50 buses making 89 one-way trips to replicate the 22 Rail Runner trips. The total operating cost of the bus service would be about $15 million annually, compared to the current Rail Runner cost of $26.8 million.
Next stop, Willoughby
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Re: Albuquerque New Mexico Rail Runner Railrunner

Postby Backshophoss » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:37 am

This might have been tied to the Southwest Chief study(quietly,I might add),the "Balloon Payments" problem might
be solved by refinancing the bonds.
This was 1 of 2 major Front Page stories of today's(11/05/15) ABQ Journal,the other was a $ 1 million "clawback" from Google
for moving Titan Aerospace to Ca from NM.(infrastructure upgrade grant)
When the Rail runner started up,it replaced a Bus Commuter operation run by NMDOT that was a "bare bones" operation at best
With an avg of 163 passengers per train per day,too many people prefer NMRX over the old bus operation and has become
a part of NM tourism as well.

The ABQ Journal,along with the Rio Grande Foundation,has never supported the Railrunner from the beginning.
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Re: Albuquerque New Mexico Rail Runner Railrunner

Postby electricron » Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:55 am

The total operating cost of the bus service would be about $15 million annually, compared to the current Rail Runner cost of $26.8 million.

Apparently the train would cost 11.8 million more each year to operate than an enhance bus service.
About the capital payments, Railrunner has already spent the money so someone will have to repay the bonds whether Railrunner stays or goes.
The entire NMDOT budget is a $807 million per year, so $26.8 million is 3.3% of $807 million. ;)
30% or $242 million, goes towards its operations, including maintenance, fuel, and personnel; salaries and benefits.
70%, or $565 million, goes into its capital funding projects.
Of that, $404.5 million in Federal Funds comes from three major programs Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Therefore, just considering operations, maintenance, fuel, and personnel costs, the Railrunner's $26.8 million is 11% of $242 million.


I'm not so sure spending 11% of NMDOT O&M budget each year on the Railrunner is a wise investment.

Source of additional data:
http://dot.state.nm.us/en/Infrastructure.html
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Re: Albuquerque New Mexico Rail Runner Railrunner

Postby dowlingm » Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:18 am

Is there scope to improve Railrunner ridership in any way?
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Re: Albuquerque New Mexico Rail Runner Railrunner

Postby Backshophoss » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:56 pm

There's an ongoing ad campaign,both TV and Radio,Weather and Gas Prices seem to be the drivers of more passengers,
there will always be a spike when the "Roundhouse"(State Capitol) is in session,and when the snow falls,making I-25 unsafe.
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Re: Albuquerque New Mexico Rail Runner Railrunner

Postby Backshophoss » Tue Jul 04, 2017 11:16 pm

At times referred to as "Rail Runner South", Las Cruces-El Paso commuter rail has been surveyed.
The article was a "wire" pick up by the ABQ Journal last fri(07/01/17) from the Las Cruces Sun-News.
Fair use quote,per regs," Cruces-El Paso commuter train support surveyed"
"A feasibility study by the Chicago based nonprofit Center for Neighborhood Technology was presented this week.
The $50,000 study commissioned by the South Central Regional Transit District,point to a need to begin coordination between
Las Cruces and El Paso,as well as Dona Ana County and BNSF."
"The study estimates rail ridership between 4,452 and 7,403 passengers on an average workday."

http://www.abqjournal.com
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