Amtrak & Southern Rail Commission Update Louisiana Passenger Rail
Louisiana travelers who have been patiently waiting for updated information about passenger rail service between New Orleans and Mobile, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and along the I-20 corridor now know a little bit more. Officials with Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission along with elected officials and investors met in Point Clear Alabama this past weekend to update the three major passenger rail projects being discussed for Louisiana.
Here's what was discussed and where the outcomes of those meetings leave each of the projects.
What is the Latest on Passenger Rail Service Between New Orleans and Mobile Alabama?
As we have covered in previous articles Amtrak is continuing to run familarization runs between the two cities. This has been going on for some time. The reason for the familiarization runs is to get the train crews and station personnel along the route accustomed to passenger trains and their schedules.
The practice runs are also done for the benefit of motorists who might travel roadways that cross the tracks too. For years, there haven't been high-speed trains on those tracks, so it's important to get drivers in the habit of looking out for speeding trains.
The sticking point still appears to be in Mobile Alabama where final plans for a permanent train station have still not been made. According to the report from the Southern Rail Commission, "all plans and partnerships are moving forward". But, until those plans are finalized and a station location is agreed upon the start of service along the Gulf Coast will be delayed. We should note that the SRC is hopeful that agreements will be reached soon and passenger service can be once again offered by early next year.
What is the Status of Passenger Rail Service Between Baton Rouge and New Orleans?
It was recently announced that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards' office will allocate some $20.5 million dollars toward local match requirements for federal grants to fix the Bonnet Carre Spillway bridge. These repairs will have to be made before passenger rail service can be implemented.
What is the Status of Passenger Rail Service Along Louisiana's I-20 Corridor?
The Southern Rail Commission in partnership with Amtrak has applied for a federal-state grant to study the feasibility of passenger service that would connect Amtrak's Crescent Train from its stop in Meridian Mississippi across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas terminating in the Dallas Fort Worth area.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Southern Rail Commission is set for December 1st. It is hoped that even more progress on all three of these projects will be announced at this time.
But, as they stand now, it does look as if passenger rail service from New Orleans to Mobile could be a reality as soon as early 2024. The other two projects, Baton Rouge to New Orleans and the I-20 corridor connection will likely not be happening as quickly since there are significant infrastructure repairs and new construction that will be needed before those trains can run with passengers on board.
19 Straight Up Facts You Can't Argue with About Louisiana