Santa Fe Southern Railway

The Santa Fe Southern Railway (reporting mark SFSR) is a short line railroad in New Mexico, United States. In addition to carrying freight on occasion, it also operates as a tourist railroad called Sky Railway that carries passengers between Lamy and Santa Fe: a distance of 18.1 miles (29.1 km).[1] The Santa Fe Rail Trail, a multi-use trail, parallels its route.

Santa Fe Southern Railway
RailRunner loco SFSR loco and dome car.jpg
Santa Fe Depot, with a Rail Runner Express train (right), alongside a diesel locomotive and ex-Santa Fe Pleasure Dome operated by the SFSR
Reporting markSFSR
LocaleSanta Fe County, New Mexico, USA
Dates of operation1992–Present
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Santa Fe Southern Railway
Santa Fe Depot
Rail Runner to Albuquerque
Interstate 25
Arroyo Hondo
Cienaga Creek
Cañada de las Minas
Cañada Ancha
Arroyo Gallina
Cañon Ancho
Avenida Vista Grande
Pueblo Cañon
Avenida Eldorado
Cañada de los Alamos
Spur Ranch Road
US Route 285
County Road 33
Junction, BNSF/NMDOT
end of line/private track


Beginnings and the expansion of tourist operationsEdit

The Santa Fe Southern began operations in 1992, after the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway ended operations on its Lamy to Santa Fe branch line and a group of local businesspeople purchased the track to continue freight service in the area. Passenger service was added later on.[1]

On October 8, 2010, the railroad was purchased by STI-Global, Ltd., an Australian-based company. STI-Global said that the purchase would allow it to test the safety systems the company produces.[2]

On May 20, 2011, the railroad was evicted from its headquarters at the depot in Santa Fe to make way for a new visitors' center planned to serve New Mexico Rail Runner passengers.[3]

On August 12, 2012, the railroad was featured in the AMC TV series Breaking Bad season 5 episode "Dead Freight", in which one of the railroad's locomotives was delayed at a highway crossing in order to facilitate the theft of 1,000 gallons of the industrial chemical methylamine from a tank car near the end of the train. The locomotive featured was SFSR 07, a GP7u. In the credits, special thanks were given to the railroad for making the episode possible.

Financial troubles and attempted recoveryEdit

The railroad's business fluctuated greatly; in 2004, it hauled 401 carloads of freight, and in 2007 carried 25,907 passengers, but in 2009 these counts decreased to 25 and 12,208, both record lows.[1] Towards the end of its existence, the railroad changed from separate freight and passenger operations to mixed trains (which carry both freight and passengers) at least twice a week, depending on the season.[1][4] The railroad also offered charter and special trains.[1]

After the close of the 2012 operating season, things took a turn for the worse. On May 23, 2013, the Santa Fe Southern board chairman announced that he had laid-off all of the railroad's full-time staffers and many seasonal employees. The railroad did not operate any trains during the year 2013.[5]

On April 24, 2014, the Las Vegas Railway Express (LVRE) announced that it had reached an agreement with the Santa Fe Southern to jointly operate excursion trains that summer.[6] LVRE would provide the capital to restore the line to operating condition, while Santa Fe Southern would operate the trains.[6]

End of regularly scheduled passenger excursion trainsEdit

On September 26, 2014, despite a reportedly-successful first summer, LVRE informed the Santa Fe Southern that it would be terminating the operation, effective on the 29th.[7] Those who had purchased tickets for future excursion trains were informed that their trains were cancelled, and received refunds. Remaining freight operations were also suspended. Santa Fe Southern officials commented that they were unsure when the railroad would resume operations, and at the present time the railroad is still lacking regularly-scheduled passenger excursions, although it is still running private charter events (weddings, parties, corporate events, etc.), Private Varnishes, and the occasional movie or TV film shoot.[5]

Revival as Sky RailwayEdit

In 2019, the railway came under new ownership, including George R. R. Martin and entertainment and restaurant business owner Bill Banowsky.[8] It resumed excursion operations under the brand Sky Railway in December 2021.[9]

Rolling stockEdit

The railroad operates several coaches formerly owned by the Central Railroad of New Jersey, as well as a flatcar and a caboose. Motive power consists of one EMD GP7 and one EMD GP16, the latter being a rebuild from a GP7.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Lustig, David (July 2010). "Santa Fe Southern". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing.
  2. ^ "Santa Fe Southern purchased by Australian high-tech company". Trains Magazine. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  3. ^ "Santa Fe boots short line from depot". Trains Magazine. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Lamy Freight Run". Santa Fe Southern Railway. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Santa Fe Southern owner: End of line for tourist trains to Lamy".
  6. ^ a b "X Train to operate Santa Fe Southern excursion trains". 24 April 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Santa Fe Southern Railway ceases passenger service". Albuquerque Business First. 30 September 2014. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  8. ^ Roman Gagnier, Monica (May 18, 2020). "George R.R. Martin and friends are working on the railroad". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  9. ^ "Sky Railway will roar back to life this December". Retrieved 2021-11-28.

External linksEdit