Memphis Wants More Amtrak Service

Passengers board the City of New Orleans in March 2012.

Passengers board the City of New Orleans in March 2012.

Memphis wants more Amtrak service and it recently met with Amtrak officials to talk about how to make that a reality. One option would be to extend one of the Chicago-Carbondale, Ill., trains to Memphis.

Conducting a feasibility study to show the costs, benefits, and possible ridership for such an expansion would be the first step in doing that. With that data, Amtrak could work out the details with the Tennessee and Illinois departments of transportation.

“This is the most likely venue for expanding and adding new service to Memphis,” said Charlie Monte Verde, a government affairs official with Amtrak. “So, the future of expanding rail service in Memphis would be having a train in and out of here to Chicago every single day in each direction.”

Memphis is currently served by Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, which operates daily between Chicago and New Orleans. Memphis is located about 200 miles south of Carbondale.

“Our long-term goal would be to get another train coming through Memphis at Central Station,” said Memphis Councilmember Myron Lowery. “The markets between Chicago and Memphis and Memphis and New Orleans are very productive markets and are increasing on an annualized basis.”

The City of New Orleans is scheduled to stop in Memphis at about 6:30 a.m. southbound and 10 p.m. northbound. Amtrak traffic through Memphis has increased about 46 percent since 1997.

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