NM Rail Backers Still Pushing for Chief Track Pact

New Mexico passenger rail advocates are continuing to push for state support of a cost-sharing agreement to upgrade the tracks used by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

The $4 million agreement would rebuild BNSF tracks used by the Chicago-Los Angeles train that BNSF has said it will not maintain to passenger train speeds because there is little freight traffic on the route.

BNSF has said it would maintain the route to 30 mph standards whereas Amtrak insists the Chief must be allowed to operate at 79 mph.

The New Mexico rail advocates held a public meeting at the Amtrak station in Albuquerque, a city that stands to lose service if the Chief if rerouted or discontinued.

The proposed track upgrade pact would involve funding from the States of New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas as well as Amtrak and BNSF.

The expenses would be shared for 10 years.

Thus far New Mexico has not committed any funds toward the project and the state legislature recently adjourned without acting on the proposal.

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