Amtrak is in favor of restoration of service along the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans.
The letter spoke of Amtrak’s “firm commitment to the Gulf Coast project, and our interest and support for other projects that are underway in (the) region.”
Until August 2005, Amtrak’s Sunset Limited had operated between New Orleans and Orlando, Florida, as part of its transcontinental route.
But the service was suspended in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which heavily damaged the CSX tracks used by the train and some Amtrak stations.
The tracks have been repaired, but the service has yet to resume.
“We are committed to operating both the long-distance and corridor services on the Gulf Coast route as soon as the necessary funding can be arranged, and the necessary agreements are in place to implement the service,” Moorman wrote.
The Southern Rail Commission is made up of representatives of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It has formed a Gulf Coast Working Group to come up with a plan to restore daily Amtrak service between New Orleans and Florida.
The group is also seeking to create a second train that would originate in Alabama and terminate in New Orleans. The final report from the working group has yet to be released.
Members of the working group also include representatives of Amtrak, CSX, the Federal Railroad Administration.
In his letter, Moorman said Amtrak also “strongly supports” the Commission’s efforts to launch a Baton Rouge-New Orleans corridor and an extension of a section of the New York-New Orleans Crescent west from Meridian, Miss., to Fort Worth, Texas.
Moorman pledged to “obtain the necessary commitments from host railroads to determine the capital and operating needs of each service in order to advance all of these important projects.” The host railroads would be Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific.
The Fort Worth extension of the Crescent proposal dates to the late 1990s when Amtrak was activity courting mail and express business.
Trains magazine recently reported that an Amtrak study has found that the Fort Worth train would have enough ridership to make it worthwhile.
It is not clear, though, if Amtrak has enough rolling stock to equip all of the services being sought by the Southern Rail Commission.
Tags: Amtrak, Amtrak Gulf Coast service, Amtrak trains, Amtrak's Sunset Limited, Charles Wick Moorman, Gulf Coast, Gulf Coast rail service, Hurricane Katrina, Southern Rail Commission, Sunset Limited, Wick Moorman