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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » New Mexico cancels Raton deal

   
Author Topic: New Mexico cancels Raton deal
palmland
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The latest from today's 'Trains' newswire @ trains.com :

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"New Mexico says it’s backing out of 2008 Raton purchase
Published: April 29, 2011
wootton
Amtrak's Southwest Chief climbs Raton Pass on Nov. 5, 2010. New Mexico says it's backing out of a deal to purchase the line between Lamy, N.M., and the Colorado border.
Photo by TRAINS: Andy Cummings
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s governor claims BNSF Railway never closed on the sale of its Raton Pass line, and she said the state no longer wants it, the Albuquerque Journal has reported. Republican Susana Martinez is also insisting BNSF pay back $2.35 million the state paid, half the “earnest money” tendered in the 2008 deal.

The state agreed to purchase the route from Lamy, N.M., 182 miles north to the Colorado border as BNSF diverted its freight trains to other routes. Today, just Amtrak’s Southwest Chief uses the line. The previous governor, Democrat Bill Richardson, offered to buy the line so the Chief could continue to use it, and for potential future services northward into Colorado.

Martinez’s administration contends the line “would have saddled New Mexico taxpayers with a legacy project from the previous administration… with very little, if any, return on investment.”

The state paid BNSF $5 million to buy the line, but Martinez alleges BNSF failed to close on the deal, a breach of the purchase agreement. BNSF spokesman Joseph Faust said the railroad hasn’t yet received the state’s letter, saying, “We expect to continue to work with the New Mexico DOT.”

The Raton Pass route served as Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe’s primary passenger route, with most freight trains taking a more southerly route through Clovis, N.M. As successor BNSF has added double track to the Clovis route, it diverted the last freight trains from Raton.

Posts: 1535 | From: Camden, SC | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gilbert B Norman
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Well?????

Anyone care to place their bets that Amtrak will step up and buy the line?

While it simply makes sense, and especially in view of repeated pronouncements by BNSF that 3-4 are welcome to use the "Transcon", to route the Chief over such, Raton NM is where the Scouts camp out. I think I can report first-hand that scouting is "a ticket" that aspiring railroad managers should best have "punched".

Posts: 6651 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.34) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Henry Kisor
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With Boy Scout enrollment having been in steady and increasingly sharp decline over the last 30 or so years (from 6 million in 1972 to less than 4 million today, with a 20 per cent drop over the last decade), possibly there just aren't that many Scouts arriving in Raton by train anymore.
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notelvis
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I believe that Raton Pass has just moved from 'endangered' to 'highly endangered'.

I expect that the next western reroute will likely be the Empire Builder in North Dakota but the Chief will likely be moving soon as well.

Eventually, the only way to arrive by train in Lamy will be via tourist varnish offered up by the Santa Fe Southern.

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Southwest Chief
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Shame, real shame [Frown]

I take the Chief to Lamy every summer.

If the Chief reroutes, Albuquerque is also off the list. They will never do the complicated wye thing just to get to ABQ. Belen is it, with a possible bus up north...eck [Embarrassed]

New Mexico is obviously being very foolish about this if they loose the Chief in the north. Lots of tourists take the train to get to Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Unlikely as many with a reroute.

And as for the number of Scouts using the train, a lounge attendant on the Chief told me that if it weren't for the boy scouts in the summer, lounge car sales would be way in the red. He also said the Scouts practically subsidize the train during the summer.

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Matt
Click Here for photos of our train layouts

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palmland
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If Amtrak could get the line for only $5M, they should. They certainly have the expertise to maintain it as the Raton line is certainly less demanding from a maintenance standpoint than the NEC that Amtrak maintains. I wonder how much they would 'save' by owning the railroad and not having to pay fees to operate over the BNSF?

It'll be interesting to see BNSF's take on this. It sounds like they think a deal has been made. This may just be political grandstanding. In any case, lots of lawyers will be getting paid.

But, just in case, I see another SWC trip in the near future.

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notelvis
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I'm making my way west in June for rides on the Empire Builder and the Coast Starlight.....

But the Southwest Chief is now officially 'next up' for my next trip west...... no later than August 2012.

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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RRCHINA
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It seems very unlikely, to me, that BNSF would have taken any action such as describded by the State in the above notice. More probable, in my opinion, is that the State is using its political power to "persuade" BNSF to allow them to withdraw with some "saved money and face".
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PullmanCo
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From a different forum, Kansas did not pursue funding to upgrade the historic Santa Fe back to FRA Class 4 track on the 179 miles of historic Santa Fe road.

The reason was Amtrak could not guarantee they'd still be using the line 20 years from now. If Amtrak leaves the line before the 20 years is up, Kansas has to pay it back ... all of it ... immediately.

The reasonable man would conclude either at some point Amtrak is going to hang the Adios signs on the LDs or that 3-4 will shift from the historic Santa Fe to the Transcon.

Source:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/deborah-fischer-stout/kdot-passenger-rail-funding-update/214304675248106

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The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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