Passengers disembark the Southwest Chief in La Junta in March 2018. (Jeff Thomas, Special to The Colorado Sun)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Amtrak a $5.6 million grant for track improvements and other work in New Mexico and Colorado along the Southwest Chief passenger train route between Chicago and Los Angeles.

The grant will help pay for upgrading 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) of rail near Lamy, New Mexico, replacing thousands of ties south of Raton Pass and along another section of track and removing loose rock in Raton Pass and other locations, the department said.

Other planned work includes rebuilding railroad bridges and grade crossings.

Together, the projects will result in higher speed limits for trains and reduced maintenance costs, the department said.

Other funding for the project will include nearly $5 million set aside by Amtrak and $1 million from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday.

The work is scheduled to begin in 2021 and be completed in 2022. The BNSF Railway and the Rio Metro Transportation District will perform much of the work in New Mexico.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative, serving member newspapers and broadcasters in the U.S., and other customers around the world. The Colorado Sun is proud to be one of them. AP journalists in more...