New Mexico Delegation Announces Nearly $30 Million for Rail Runner Safety Upgrade

DOT grant will help fund implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) and keep Rail Runner running

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján, Steve Pearce, and Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded the Rio Metro Regional Transit District $29,359,208 to fund the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on the New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter rail.

In June, the New Mexico delegation wrote to DOT in support of this grant, which will help enable the Rail Runner to comply with a federal safety mandate requiring the implementation of PTC. Without the grant, the Rio Metro Regional Transit District would have likely needed to cut service significantly on the Rail Runner to accommodate the cost of PTC.

“The Rail Runner connects rural, Native, and urban communities in Central New Mexico, offering thousands of New Mexicans access to employment, education, health care and service opportunities,” said Udall. “While Positive Train Control represents a critical safety upgrade, it also carries with it a high price tag that threatened to limit the essential service the Rail Runner provides to Central New Mexico. I’m proud to have fought for this major investment, which keeps the Rail Runner running while ensuring the safety of those who ride it.” 

“This major federal investment in the Rail Runner will ensure the train will continue to connect communities from Santa Fe to Belen,” said Heinrich. “I am proud to support the long term viability of reliable transportation alternatives like the Rail Runner and the Southwest Chief. These passenger trains help New Mexicans access work, education, and health care. They also link rural and tribal communities to our state’s major cities and tourism economy. As the Ranking Member on the Joint Economic Committee, I will continue to fight for 21st century infrastructure investments in all of our communities.”

“The Rail Runner provides a critical service for New Mexicans from Santa Fe and Albuquerque through Belen and Los Lunas. Hundreds of residents rely on this transportation to access their work, their doctors, and their education. This significant federal funding represents safety improvements for which New Mexicans otherwise would have had to pay a high price for,” said Luján. “I was proud to support Rio Grande Metro Regional Transit District’s application for this grant and I’m pleased that the Department of Transportation chose to invest in Rail Runner’s ability to continue providing safe, reliable services to New Mexicans.”

“Implementing PTC on the Rail Runner will continue to ensure passenger and community safety for those that rely on it,” said Pearce. “This technology is federally mandated and able to monitor trains in real-time and stop collisions and accidents before they occur. I am pleased to see this grant coming to New Mexico to increase safety on the Rail Runner line and prevent disruptions in service due to compliance.”

“NMRX is part of a regional transit network that is integral to our state’s economy. It facilitates employment opportunities, connects our urban and rural communities, and helps ensure that New Mexicans have access to health care, higher education, and veteran services,” said Lujan Grisham. “This critical infrastructure grant will support NMRX ‘s efforts to continue providing safe and reliable service to New Mexicans and tourists who depend on it every single day. I remain committed to revitalizing our transportation and infrastructure systems, securing funding for our state’s long-term needs, and helping our economy grow.”

Each day, up to 16 one-way commuter trains follow a 100 mile corridor connecting Albuquerque to Santa Fe, Pueblos, Los Lunas, Belen, and rural communities in central New Mexico.