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The New Mexico Railrunner
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   Author  Topic: The New Mexico Railrunner  (Read 979 times)
VentureForth
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The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« on: Jul 14th, 2006, 2:39pm »
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Today marks the first day of the New Mexico Railrunner!  I'm gonna try to hitch a ride later on today.
 
Jim


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Alco83

Posts: 3828
Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #1 on: Jul 14th, 2006, 4:44pm »
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Yep, here's the story!  Hope it does well.
 
New Mexico's Rail Runner commuter service begins today
 
 
TRAINS:  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Shake a tail feather! The white double-deck commuter cars decorated with the red-and-yellow "back half" of the speedy land bird Roadrunner, also the official state bird, and their MP36 locomotives which wear "the front half," after sitting around the yard and qualifying crews on test runs for months, finally scoot into action by offering a modest level of revenue service beginning today, Friday, July 14.
 
Thus the Land of Enchantment becomes the 18th U.S. state with commuter rail (three others-Michigan, New Hampshire, and Vermont-had it in recent decades but dropped it; Minnesota and Utah are next on tap to get it). Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city, becomes also the 18th U.S. hub of such trains, as differentiated from light-rail and "heavy rail" subway or elevated rapid-transit.
 
Officially the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, the service begins by serving three stations on nine miles of track in the Rio Grande valley the state purchased from BNSF Railway. The route, formerly the Santa Fe Railway, still hosts a handful of BNSF freights and Amtrak's daily Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.
 
The stations first served are in downtown and to the north: Albuquerque's Alvarado Transportation Center, adjacent to the Amtrak depot at the eastern edge of the city's business district; the Los Ranchos/Journal Center station; and Sandoval/U.S. 550 at Bernalillo. The downtown Albuquerque depot is named for the Alvarado Hotel, a Fred Harvey hotel that stood on the site until 1970. These will be the only stations served until September or October, when the service will be extended southward to Los Lunas and Belen.
 
Initially, trains will run on weekdays only: three round trips in the morning, one in midday trip, and three in the evening. The service will be free of charge for the first three months, until October 13.
 
When complete years hence, the Rail Runner will provide service over a 100-plus-mile route, from Belen north to the state capital of Santa Fe. The project is being developed in two phases. Phase I, the 48 miles between Belen and Bernalillo, uses existing track and is planned to be in full operation this year. Phase II, which will require some new track, will extend the service to Santa Fe. Federal funding is being pursued for Phase II, which is scheduled for completion in late 2008.
 
In December 2005, the state of New Mexico and BNSF signed an agreement to sell nearly 300 miles of BNSF line from Belen all the way over Raton Pass to Trinidad, Colo., to the state over a three-year period, for $75 million. New Mexico assumed ownership of the first 51 miles, between Belen and Bernalillo, on January 10, 2006. Plans are uncertain for the exact route into Santa Fe; three possibilities include the existing former Santa Fe branch from Lamy, now operated by short line Santa Fe Southern on state-owned track; and one of two new routes, one involving property along Interstate 25 and one on totally new right of way.
 
Rail Runner's locomotives are five new MP36PH-3C diesels built by MotivePower Inc. in Boise, Idaho. They haul 10 bi-level cars built by Bombardier, and the trains operate in push-pull mode, with the birds - er, locomotives - facing south.
 
"Beep-beep," and stand back!


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VentureForth
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Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
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« Reply #2 on: Jul 14th, 2006, 8:23pm »
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OK - here is my report.  I rode the 4:10 PM Northbound out of Albuquerque.  Amtrak #4 was on Track 1 and was pulled further South than normal to accomodate loading the Railrunner on Track 2.

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VentureForth
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Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
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« Reply #3 on: Jul 14th, 2006, 8:39pm »
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Ride was very smooth NB. Went about 2 miles at yard speeds then picked up to 50 then on up to full track speed. I'll tell you what - you'd never know we weren't on welded rail. The ride was extremely smooth.
 
The brand new locomotives weren't without their problems, though. For being fresh off the factory floor, they bellowed smoke like an old SP geep working overtime in the yard. The conductor told me that they had HEP problems just like the P59FHIs on the TRE had.
 
Here is the train at the Northern most station at Sandoval/US 550.


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VentureForth
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Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
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« Reply #4 on: Jul 14th, 2006, 8:40pm »
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For inaugauration day, they were running 5 cars and either one or two locos. The platforms are designed for a maximum of 3 cars. Some folks had to ride a little extra 'cause they didn't always announce that people getting off had to go to the Northernmost cars.
 
This pic is NMRX 105 ready to push train #510 back up to Bernalillo.  


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VentureForth
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Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
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« Reply #5 on: Jul 14th, 2006, 8:41pm »
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Finally, a bit of advertising on the side of the loco (and on some cars) encouraging Albuquerquites to visit the county to the North.

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Alco83

Posts: 3828
Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #6 on: Jul 19th, 2006, 3:00pm »
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Great news here...
 
Rail Runner off to fast start; Richardson sees expansion
 
TRAINS:  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Between 2,800 and 3,200 people rode New Mexico's Rail Runner Express on its first day of service, July 14, it was reported by the Albuquerque Tribune. Two extra cars had to be added to the afternoon trains to handle the passenger load. "We thought it would do well, but we didn't think it would to this well," Robert Gonzales, operations manager for the Mid-Region Council of Governments, a partner with the state on the Rail Runner project, told the Tribune.
 
Passengers can ride for free during the first three months of service.
 
On weekdays, the two-car trains make seven round trips between downtown Albuquerque and the U.S. 550 station in Bernalillo, N.M. The trains are decorated in a striking scheme that features a roadrunner, the state bird, and even include a nod to the memorable Warner Bros. "Road Runner" cartoon: When the doors on the cars close, the warning sound made is the Road Runner's "Beep! Beep!"
 
During the official dedication ceremony for the Rail Runner on July 17, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson predicted that passenger train service from El Paso, Texas, to Denver, running through Albuquerque, is a vision that "will happen," New Mexico Business Weekly reported. The governor did not attach any timeline to the prospect or discuss where funding would come from.
 
Gilbert Gallegos, Deputy Director of Communications for Governor Richardson, told TRAINS News Wire that El Paso-Denver service would benefit both New Mexico and Colorado. "Air fares between Albuquerque and Denver are exorbitant and sometimes hard to come by," he said. "We have to look at alternatives, and see if this is something people will buy into. Particularly in southeastern New Mexico people would like to see this service." But for now New Mexico is concentrating on the Rail Runner. "The focus right now is to expand Rail Runner service to Santa Fe," Gallegos said.
 
Current plans call for Rail Runner to be operating south from Albuquerque to Belen by fall 2007, with service to Santa Fe expected to begin in late 2008.


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VentureForth
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Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #7 on: Aug 6th, 2006, 12:28am »
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Monsoon Season begins!!
 


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VentureForth
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Posts: 1158
Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #8 on: Aug 6th, 2006, 12:30am »
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Same train, moments earlier, staging for a 4:10 PM departure back on July 28th.
 


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Alco83

Posts: 3828
Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #9 on: Oct 19th, 2006, 2:45pm »
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Very impressive!
 
--------------------------------
--------------------------------
 
New Mexico Rail Runner celebrates 200,000th passenger
 
TRAINS:  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - It's only been in operation for three months, but New Mexico's Rail Runner Express carried its 200,000th passenger on Friday, October 13. Commuter Bill Patterson rode the 8:45 a.m. Rail Runner train into the downtown Albuquerque Station to become the 200,000th traveler.
 
The Rail Runner was the fastest start-up of a new commuter rail operation in the country in the past 20 years. It currently carries commuters between Albuquerque and the Town of Bernalillo. The first three months of service were free. Beginning October 14 to the end of 2006, a discounted flat fare of $2 (one way) will be implemented, with options for a single-day, 10-day, or monthly pass. The Rail Runner will move into a permanent fare structure on January 1, 2007.
 
For the distinction of being the 200,000th passenger, Patterson received a bag of Rail Runner memorabilia, including a scale model of the train, and a certificate to ride the train free for one month once the free period is up and introductory fares kick in.
 
Expansion south from Albuquerque to Belen has been delayed until at least December 2006, Rail Runner spokesperson Augusta Meyers told Trains News Wire. Progress Rail, which is doing track work for the commuter service has had delays obtaining track materials. This in turn sets back construction and signal installation. While new stations are ready, until the track and signaling are complete, service expansion is on hold. For more information, visit www.nmrailrunner.com.


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VentureForth
Historian
Posts: 1158
Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #10 on: Jan 8th, 2007, 12:41pm »
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Well, for those of you who are interested, service to Los Lunas (the only stop SOUTH of ABQ) opened in December.
 
Schedule is such, though, that there is not easy 'railfanning' free rides.  Only into ABQ or points North until the evening rush.


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George_Harris
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Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #11 on: Jan 9th, 2007, 1:19am »
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Only Los Lunas to the south?  I thought there were going to be more.  In fact, when I look at the nmrailrunner web site. it says:
 
Downtown Albuquerque (Alvarado Transp. Center 1st St. and Central Ave.)
Rio Bravo/Airport (South Valley at Rio Bravo Blvd. and @nd St.)
Isleta Puebloo (NM 47 and Tribal Road 15)
Los Lunas (NM 314 and Courthouse Rd.)
Belen (Reinken Ave. and Wisconsin St.)


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NYC_Subway_Fan
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Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #12 on: Jan 9th, 2007, 11:50pm »
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on Jan 9th, 2007, 1:19am, George_Harris wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Only Los Lunas to the south? I thought there were going to be more. In fact, when I look at the nmrailrunner web site. it says:
 
Downtown Albuquerque (Alvarado Transp. Center 1st St. and Central Ave.)
Rio Bravo/Airport (South Valley at Rio Bravo Blvd. and @nd St.)
Isleta Puebloo (NM 47 and Tribal Road 15)
Los Lunas (NM 314 and Courthouse Rd.)
Belen (Reinken Ave. and Wisconsin St.)

 
Those stations are still coming, they're just not ready yet.  So service only runs to Los Lunas, until they finish track work and building the stations.


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Alan,

Take care and take trains!
VentureForth
Historian
Posts: 1158
Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #13 on: Jan 20th, 2007, 5:29pm »
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on Jan 9th, 2007, 11:50pm, NYC_Subway_Fan wrote:       (Click here for original message)

 
Those stations are still coming, they're just not ready yet. So service only runs to Los Lunas, until they finish track work and building the stations.

Rumor at the moment is that Belen will open on Feb 2.  
There are still a lot of stations to open, including Downtown Bernalillo, possibly Santa Ana Pueblo, Rio Bravo (which in my humble opinion they are foolishly calling "Airport"), Isleta Pueblo, and, of course, the aforementioned Belen.


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VentureForth
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Posts: 1158
Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #14 on: Feb 3rd, 2007, 11:13am »
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Rumor was confirmed.  Service started to Belen yesterday.  There was much fanfare on the train that arrived at 1:25 PM.  That was all great except, I wanted to catch that train.  Unfortunately, the SW Chief was about 30 minutes late getting to Isleta, and had to wait for nearly 45 minutes for the train I was going to catch to pass.
 
Oh well.    Service has started, and I think there was too much power on that train anyway (and I'm not talkin' motive power - more like the power that I get sick of, from Santa Fe).


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George_Harris
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Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #15 on: Feb 5th, 2007, 2:48am »
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on Feb 3rd, 2007, 11:13am, VentureForth wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Oh well. Service has started, and I think there was too much power on that train anyway (and I'm not talkin' motive power - more like the power that I get sick of, from Santa Fe).

I am assuming that you mean hyperinflated egos from the city of SF, as in the state level politicians normally residing in Santa Fe who otherwise have no concept of mass transportaion, and not power from the AT&SF railroad of fond memory.
 
George


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VentureForth
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Posts: 1158
Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #16 on: Feb 8th, 2007, 12:32pm »
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You got it.  Excess exhaust.

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George_Harris
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Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #17 on: Feb 11th, 2007, 10:41am »
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on Jul 19th, 2006, 3:00pm, Alco83 wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Great news here...
 
Rail Runner off to fast start; Richardson sees expansion
 
TRAINS: ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -  
 
Current plans call for Rail Runner to be operating south from Albuquerque to Belen by fall 2007, with service to Santa Fe expected to begin in late 2008.

Don't know where the 2008 idea came from.  This is going to require several miles of new line, and the route is not even selected yet.  Yeah, they could run via Lamy, but this would be excruciatingly slow as well as very round about.  Some interesting discussion can be found on the nmrailrunner web site.


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George_Harris
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Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #18 on: Feb 12th, 2007, 5:00am »
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And today I saw in trainorders a quote from the Albuquerque newspaper that the state has decided to generally follow the alignment of I-25 for the last miles into Santa Fe.  They are still quoting a 2008 date, which is absolutely impossible, even if they started construction right now.  It appears that the tie in point to the existing BNSF main will be about a mile east of I-25 and then back into the line into Santa Fe inself just north of I-25 there.  I have not read the newspaper article itself, for the simple reason that they require information about you and registration to access it, and I will no more do that than I will give personal information to a paper box before dropping in the money.  the railrunner website has an updated report on Santa Fe access as of mid December.
 
George


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VentureForth
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Posts: 1158
Re: The New Mexico Railrunner
 
« Reply #19 on: Feb 14th, 2007, 3:25pm »
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Here's a copy of the article:
 
Quote:
State OKs I-25 Median as Rail Runner Route to Santa Fe  
 
Associated Press
 SANTA FE The Rail Runner Express commuter train will travel to Santa Fe by following the Interstate 25 median, state Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught said today.  
    The route will have the least impact on communities, she said.
    The Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization selected the I-25 route last week over an alternative that would have gone through the Santa Fe Community College district east of the highway.  
    Four routes were originally proposed, and engineers estimated a travel time of between 81 and 85 minutes on each of the alternatives with existing stops in the Albuquerque area and two stops near downtown Santa Fe.  
    The Rail Runner, which currently operates the 50 miles between Belen and Bernalillo, passing through Albuquerque, is to be extended to the capital city by late 2008.
    Lawrence Rael, executive director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments, which has responsibility for the commuter train, said the decision is a critical step in developing the commuter train for Santa Fe.  
    Currently, the train averages 1,800 riders a day, the state Transportation Department said.
    The $393 million Rail Runner project began running between Albuquerque and Bernalillo last July. The commuter train is expected to cost $10 million a year to operate.  
    Faught has said that a $75 million federal grant for the train has been stalled in Congress.

 
As I was writing a critical relpy to why this route should not have been chosen, I was going over the "Albuquerque to Santa Fe Commuter Rail Project Overview and Status of Project Elements Revised December 14, 2006" report and I guess this does make the most sense.  Some things that will need to be considered include the troughing of some parts of the median as they grade it suitable for rail use (any plans to ever run freight?) and it's impact on the accumulation of rain and snow as well as the communities that will be missed from Alternative 5 including the college.
 
Overall, though, I didn't see how the cost would be that much different, and it looks to be about the same amount of new track, but much more direct.  I hope they put in plenty of sidings to keep from having to inconvienience Amtrak operations.  
 
Now if they could just run Amtrak from Lamy to Santa Fe then back down the new ROW....


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