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I live in New Mexico and have been following the politics of railroads in the state for some time, and write an occasional blog on passenger rail. It is supreme irony that, in order to keep Amtrak running through Albuquerque, we now have to fund maintenance on the track that Gov. Martinez effectively gave back to BNSF precisely because it would be too costly to maintain. (I do not think a rerouted Southwest Chief would stop in Albuquerque. Instead, the likely result of the reroute would be a stop in Belen, NM with bus--ugh!--service to Albuquerque. Only if New Mexico Rail Runner gets involved could we expect an "all rail" ride from Albuquerque or Santa Fe. That would be predicated on Amtrak actually making connections, as I would hate to have to wait hours at a Belen station.) But back to the topic: In all fairness, Gov. Richardson should never have entered into a deal to purchase the BNSF line from Albuquerque to Raton, but he was desperate for political points, had an open purse, and BNSF saw him coming a milepost away. Rep. Gonzales has the right idea, though. It's the best result coming out of a bad situation, and would be in line with Gov. Martinez's other so-called initiatives to garner more business and tourism. The only good I could see coming from a reroute would be if New Mexico decided to fund a regional Amtrak route from Belen to Las Vegas, NM, or Raton (or jointly with Colorado to Denver) that would serve Santa Fe and NM Highlands University in Las Vegas.
(Photo by Drew Mitchem credit to Trains Magazine.)