Up to $750,000 in severance tax bonds have been approved for the track rehabilitation and related infrastructure improvements on the famous Cumbres and Toltec rail line.
The funding, passed by members of the New Mexico State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Susana Martinez, will allow the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission to also pay for improvements to passenger cars on the lines, as well as general locomotive and boiler upgrades in compliance with Federal Railroad Administration standards.
Running a 64-mile route between the towns of Chamas, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado, the railroad is the longest steam rail line of its kind, pushing up into the 10,000-foot Cumberland Pass.
The railroad consists of five active locomotives and 19 passenger cars, running daily passenger services.
Originally launched in 1880, the railroad was last used for freight purposes in the late 1960s. In 1970, the combined state railroad authorities of New Mexico and Colorado purchased the railroad for just over $500,000.
Through the years, both states have approved appropriations for the upkeep and operation of the railroad.
In the process, the two states also created the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission, tasked with keeping the railroad running.
The railroad was named a National Historic Landmark Designation in 2012.
By Garry Boulard
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