El Paso

Study: Commuter rail service between Las Cruces and El Paso feasible, wanted

EL PASO, Texas - The results of a study on proposed commuter rail service between Las Cruces and El Paso suggest it is financially feasible and wanted by commuters.

The study was commissioned by the South Central Regional Transit District.
The track of the proposed passenger rail line is the 42-mile existing BNSF railroad connecting El Paso Union Station to Las Cruces, running parallel to I-25.

The study states the rail would link major activity centers in El Paso and Las Cruces and provide service to Sunland Park, Montoya, Canutillo, Anthony, Berino and Vado. 

The study found the Las Cruces El Paso corridor has a sufficient population and economy to support and benefit from a commuter rail service.

Researchers say the communities along the corridor are growing. They found since 2000, population
increased by 20 percent and is expected to add another 20 percent by 2030.

The projected daily ridership for the proposed passenger rail line is between 5,500 and 9,200 passengers on an average working day.

The authors recommend eight to 10 round-trip train movements per day, with average times of 30 to 45 minutes during morning and evening rush hours.

The study found four train sets would be needed, each of which includes a locomotive and three passenger cars. The capital investment needed would be approximately $76.8 million for new equipment and $13.86 for used equipment.

Analyzes based on 12 comparable rail services estimate the costs to operate the proposed service, once established, at $15.61 to $18.68 per one way trip, $26.87 to 27.46 per service mile.

The authors ended their study with some recommendations to turn the idea of commuter rail service between Las Cruces and El Paso into reality:

In light of anticipated difficulties in BNSF negotiations and in securing state and federal investment support: 

  • Develop a partnership with authorities of metropolitan El Paso for rail service funding, BNSF negotiations, and operations.
  • Recruit a short line railroad as the service operator and a negotiating partner.
  • With El Paso authorities, create an action plan for improved transit connections around terminal rail stations.  

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