Rail Runner damage settlements reach nearly $8M

Created: 08/18/2014 11:16 AM
By: BARRY MASSEY Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - State records show that New Mexico has paid nearly $8 million to settle damage claims against the Rail Runner Express.

But the commuter rail system, until last month, made no premium payments into the state's self-insurance program that provides liability coverage for settlements of lawsuits against government agencies. The insurance arrangement represented a little-known subsidy for the state-owned passenger train.

According to General Services Department records, the taxpayer-financed liability fund has covered $7.7 million in settlements involving the Rail Runner since it started in mid-2006. Those settlements include about $4 million for wrongful death claims for car-train accidents that killed three people in 2007.

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration assessed a $2 million annual insurance premium on the Rail Runner for the budget year that began last month.

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