Saturday, March 04, 2006

Back to New Mexico

Can't help going back to the subject of New Mexico's experiment in commuter rail. If you haven't read about it before, check my archives or go to New Mexico Rail Runner and read up.

Though the project is now about five months behind the original schedule proposed by NM Gov. Bill Richardson, and likely to be eight months behind before reaching fruition, it is still getting on line faster, from concept to first train out of the station, than any other similar project anywhere in the country. (Readers please challenge me on this if you can find one faster. I can't.)

NM Attorney General Patricia Madrid, as reported in the Albuquerque Journal has given her seal of approval to the legality of the contract to buy the rail line from Belen, NM, to Raton, NM. She just wants BNSF Railway to keep the portion up to Trinidad, CO, and everything is hunky dory, legally. She is not endorsing the concept or saying that she thinks it will be successful. She is running against Rep. Heather Wilson this year and needs all the votes she can get, and this whole Rail Runner thing could be a big flop by then.

Yes, Virginia, it will be a sure flop if it is over a year behind schedule, and it may be a flop if it starts running in June and we know how much money we are losing by November.

I don't want it to be a flop. (If you do, chime in with your two cents on the comments.) So if I sound too downbeat, please ignore it. I can't help thinking that the rail line is a pig in a poke and that the state would be better off without it. I don't see how the state will ever run a commuter train from Albuquerque to Las Vegas, NM. A more reasonable bet would be one from Albuquerque to Las Cruces and/or El Paso, TX. With Truth or Consequences (perhaps by then back to Hot Springs) as a tourist destination and three larger centers of population along it, Albuquerque to El Paso makes much more sense.

So why are we buying the line in the other direction?

I would love to have an explanation other than "Gov. Bill couldn't get his trains running in time for the 2008 Presidential Primaries if he didn't buy it." What a primary contest! Bill Richardson playing with trains and Hillary playing with . . . , oh, never mind.

Passenger Rail and politics are inseparably linked.

© 2006 - C. A. Turek -
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