ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Passengers on the Rail Runner may soon have a much more enjoyable experience. The Rio Metro Regional Transit District has begun construction on its traffic control extension project to help save time for commuters on the train. 

New Mexico Rail Runner Express Communications Manager, Augusta Meyers says the downtown Albuquerque station is where they see the most commuters. Meyers says the hope is to give passengers a smoother ride. “This is the centralized traffic control extension and basically it’s going to do a number of things to improve the rail runner experience, but more so to really help the flow of trains in the downtown corridor which it’s very busy along that line,” said Meyers.

The communications manager says around 20 Rail Runner trains cross the station daily carrying a current average of 2,000 people from Belen to Santa Fe. Meyers says once the Amtrak and the occasional freight trains come in, the flow of traffic can become slightly congested as trains have to take turns on the track.

Meyers says the plan is to try and increase the speed of the Rail Runner and decrease travel times which would include regulating train movements to control signals and switches. “Right now when one train comes in, somebody has to hand throw a switch so that it can go to another track or one of the trains has to pull over. this is going to eliminate that and make that better so that the flow of those trains is actually a lot smoother,” said Meyers.

Part of the redesign would also include the reconstruction of about a mile of track near Second St. and Alameda Blvd. that currently is unusable. That would result in two sets of tracks that the Rail Runner could use. Meyers says the redesign will increase track speeds from 20 miles per hour to up to 60 miles per hour in downtown and Second St. and Alameda Blvd. area which could reduce travel times by up to nine minutes.

Meyers says the plan is to have the project complete by the end of the summer but says delays in materials could prolong the plans.