Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico’

Ex-Harvey House Hotel Reopened in Las Vegas, NM

April 7, 2019

The former Harvey House hotel near the Amtrak station in Las Vegas, New Mexico, has reopened.

The Hotel La Castañeda, began accepting guests on April 1, although restoration of the facility built in 1898 is ongoing with a saloon expected to open later this month and a restaurant in June.

The hotel closed in 1948 and was sold at least twice, sometimes operating as apartment complex with a bar.

Allan Affeldt purchased the building in in 2014. He also owns and restored La Posada, the popular historic Harvey House in Winslow, Ariz., and the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, built in 1882.

Developers plan to make the La Castañeda the centerpiece of the “railroad district” in Las Vegas, which includes historic buildings that are being restored.

Amtrak’s Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief serves Las Vegas.

N.M. Agency Gets PTC Grant From FRA

August 27, 2018

The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded a $30 million grant to the Rio Metro Regional Transit District to be used to install positive train control.

The agency operates the New Mexico Rail Runner Express over 96 miles that line the cities of Belen, Albuquerque, Los Lunas and Santa Fe.

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief uses a portion of this route network.

Officials said without the funding, rail passenger service would likely have ended because the agency lacks the money to final installing PTC equipment.

Lack of PTC has been one of the reasons given by Amtrak for its idea to operate a bus service between Albuquerque and Dodge City, Kansas, in lieu of a train.

The U.S. Senate has approved $2.5 billion for intercity passenger rail service in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2019, and directed Amtrak to preserve service on the Southwest Chief corridor.

N.M. Senator Rips Plans for S.W. Chief

June 23, 2018

A New Mexico lawmaker has blasted Amtrak’s proposals to truncate the Southwest Chief and described a meeting held with Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson to discuss the Chief as having been unproductive.

“I think this was one of the most unproductive meetings with an agency level official that I’ve ever experienced,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. “To learn that not only are they planning to pull back their commitment to the TIGER grant, but that they’re going to abandon the route I think is just outrageous.”

Anderson recently met with the congressional delegation from New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas to describe a proposal to operate the Chicago-Los Angeles train between Los Angeles and Albuquerque, New Mexico; and between Chicago and Dodge City, Kansas, or La Junta, Colorado.

Passengers would be transported on charter buses between Albuquerque and La Junta/Dodge City.

The meeting with Anderson had been requested by members of Congress after word got out about Amtrak’s plans.

Anderson told the lawmakers that the signals and track between Raton Pass and Lamy, New Mexico, are outdated.

Rebuilding those is the purpose of U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant that was won by Colfax County, New Mexico.

But Amtrak has said it won’t provide its $3 million match to the grant without a “comprehensive plan from other stakeholders.”

Amtrak contends that passengers will still be able to travel to rail between Chicago and Los Angeles and to all intermediate points, but part of their journey may be on a bus.

Heinrich said the fight over the Chief is far from over.

“There are very active conversations going on right now to figure out what our appropriations strategy is and to push back forcibly and vigorously,” he said. “We’ve had to fight for the Southwest Chief before and we will fight for the Southwest Chief again.”

In a statement, Amtrak  said that it is considering “various service options for the Southwest Chief in response to the significant host railroad costs facing Amtrak for continued use of the middle portion of the route between Dodge City and Albuquerque.”

The statement cited significant costs that Amtrak faces to rebuild the track, which is owned by BNSF but used only by Amtrak in some places.

It also said Amtrak wants to continue providing transportation to all communities served by the route.

“Amtrak is thoroughly analyzing the route and considering the appropriate strategies for enhancing safety for operations after the December 2018 federal deadline for Positive Train Control,” the statement said.

See an earlier related post below on this subject.

 

TIGER Grant Sought for SW Chief Route Upgrades

October 11, 2017

Officials in Colfax County in New Mexico are seeking a TIGER grant to upgrade the tracks used by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

If awarded, it would be the third federal grant used to improve the tracks, which are owned by BNSF.

Four state departments of transportation have pledged $1 million each while Amtrak and BNSF have each pledged $3 million in matching funds. Some local governments have also pledged matching funds.

The $25 million project will rebuild tracks within New Mexico. Previous TIGER grants of $25 million and $12 million were used for track work in Kansas and Colorado.

In Position as Required by Rule

December 17, 2016
sw-limited-novemer-1-1981

The rear brakeman of Amtrak No. 4 stands watch in Lamy, New Mexico, on Nov. 1, 1981.

Amtrak’s eastbound Southwest Limited is making its station stop in Lamy, New Mexico, and the Santa Fe rear brakeman watches the boarding process from toward the rear of the train.

The two Superliner sleepers assigned to No. 4 today are on the rear end. I got to talking with this crew member during my journey, which began the night before in Los Angeles and would end early the next morning in Kansas City. Before he went off duty, he handed me the train bulletin for that day.

I made this image from the vestibule of the sleeper in which I had a room.

NM Rail Backers Still Pushing for Chief Track Pact

March 29, 2015

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.