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Santa Fe-Lamy passenger rail trips look set to return

The Santa Fe Southern Railway’s passenger excursions apparently are on their way back.

X Train Holdings of Las Vegas, Nev., announced this week that it has entered into a contract to operate passenger and special event services on the 18-mile rail route between Santa Fe and Lamy.

The Santa Fe Southern, whose train rides have been a longtime staple for both tourists and locals, has gone through a rocky period the past few years.

It stopped its passenger service in 2013, with company officials citing the recession and lack of money in the train passenger business. The railway laid off its full-time employees and seasonal workers last May.

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As the railway was facing financial problems earlier, in 2010, a controlling interest was sold to STI-Global Ltd., an Australian company. The next year, city government put the railway out of the old depot in the Rail Yard, now a city-operated visitors’ center.

X Train describes itself as a luxury train travel service with plans to partner with or acquire existing railways. Under its agreement with the Santa Fe Southern, X Train will operate passenger excursions, take over the passenger service contract rights and “provide the capital necessary” to improve the track and train equipment, according to a news release.

“SFSR personnel will continue to provide the transportation services, and will be compensated by (X Train) to operate the equipment,” the release says. Over the years, the rail line also has been used for freight services from Lamy, where a Burlington Northern Santa Fe line passes and Amtrak trains stop.

“We are very pleased to be working with SFSR to see this historic rail service dating back to 1881 reinstated,” Brian Harrington, an X Train vice president, said.

Karl Ziebarth, Santa Fe Southern’s chairman and CEO, said, “While SFSR will not receive any immediate cash from this transaction, it provides a way to restore a vital and living part of history, the rail service from the connection with AMTRAK, America’s national passenger railway, to the historic capital of the southwest, Santa Fe.”

The release didn’t provide a timeline for return of passenger service and a public relations contact couldn’t provide additional details.

X Train’s website says it is starting a luxury train between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

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