Amtrak and members of the Southern Rail Commission are expressing optimism that intercity rail service will be restored to the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans.
During a meeting in Mobile, Alabama, they said that efforts to restore Amtrak service lost in August 2005 following Hurricane Katrina are close to being realized despite the proposal by the Trump administration to gut funding for Amtrak’s long-distance trains.
“When we look at the situation of where we are, we are closer now than we have ever been over the course of the last 12 years,” said Thomas Stennis III, Amtrak’s director of government affairs south.
Stennis urged residents of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida to ask their respective members of Congress to reject President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. “I cannot urge that enough,” he said.
Although neither Amtrak nor the Commission has provided any details about how the service would be funded or when it might be restored, Stennis said that Amtrak CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman supports the restoration of service to the line once served by the Sunset Limited.
Nos. 1 and 2 continue to operate tri-weekly between New Orleans and Los Angeles.
One proposal to serve the Gulf Coast has the daily City of New Orleans operating east of its namesake city.
During a meeting in Mobile, officials estimated that 154,000 passengers would use the proposed New Orleans to Mobile segment annually.
Knox Ross, a Mississippi Commissioner of the SRC, said that negotiations with CSX, which owns the rail line that would be used have been difficult.
“We are working very hard to come up with a number,” said Knox. “It’s a hard negotiation because we are working on their railroad and they own it and they wanna make money.”
Knox said Amtrak matched the $125,000 appropriated by the City of Mobile to carry out necessary upgrades to its station.
He said similar deals could be worked out with other cities along the Gulf Coast city stations that require upgrades, said Knox.
Tags: Amtrak, Amtrak Gulf Coast service, Amtrak trains, Amtrak's City of New Orleans, Amtrak's Sunset Limited, CSX, Gulf Coast rail service, intercity rail passenger service, Mobile Alabama, New Orleans, Southern Rail Commission, Thomas Stennis III, Trump adminstration