New Mexico is on the right track with Amtrak

ARaton Comet editorial from November 21, 2013 carried the stark headline “Gov. to Raton: Drop dead” then went on to lament Gov. Susana Martinez’s lack of interest or support for helping to keep the Southwest Chief route alive in New Mexico.

Fortunately for New Mexico, Raton, Philmont Scout Ranch and many small communities in New Mexico, others have shown greater willingness. In this week’s Comet, the article “Amtrak: Chief will keep rolling through New Mexico” by Milan Simonich of The Santa Fe New Mexican states, “Colorado and Kansas moved aggressively last year to secure a federal grant and to allocate money for repairs on their sections of the Southwest Chief tracks.… Martinez was less willing… to commit to the project because she said Amtrak historically was the beneficiary of federal subsidies.”

Her views notwithstanding, it is gratifying to learn that New Mexico’s Department of Transportation will be “devising ways to pay for repairs in New Mexico” and that New Mexico lawmakers like Rep. Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales, D-Taos, have also been working on ways to find needed funding.

We agree with Raton Mayor Sandra Mantz’s assessment that Amtrak is important to this area’s economy: Over 4,000 Boy Scouts arrive in Raton by train each summer on their way to Philmont Scout Ranch. Simonich’s article states, “This accounts for half the business at the Raton station.”

Another economic study suggests that train service in Northern New Mexico brings in about $29 million a year, a significant portion of which ends up in Raton.

Raton has been hard hit in years past with the loss of mining and horse racing. It also has numerous dedicated public servants, residents and business owners who are committed to helping the community grow.

We are glad to see them get a little help.

Editor’s Note — This editorial is the opinion

of the Raton Comet.