Even with more scrutiny on train service after several notable derailments, Amtrak is looking to expand its service.
Amtrak will partner with the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) to apply for federal funds to study a new service between New York City, Atlanta and Dallas/Fort Worth by extending a section of the popular Amtrak Crescent train from Meridian, Mississippi, across Mississippi and Louisiana to Texas along Interstate 20, the company said in a release.
It is a bold move, considering the Norfolk Southern freight train line derailed in Ohio less than a month ago, spilling hazardous materials.
Even though this would be a passenger line and not freight, there is plenty of high-profile attention on the railroad industry these days.
Amtrak and its partners have been exploring this idea for more than 20 years, but last year’s Congressional passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now creates new opportunities to study possible expanded long-distance Amtrak service.
“As the entity responsible for providing the nation’s long-distance intercity passenger rail service, Amtrak will work with our partners to seek the funds needed to study expansion and
improvement options where strong stakeholder support exists and initial analysis show opportunity,” Amtrak development vice president Nicole Bucich said in a statement.
“With the encouragement and support of federal, state and local officials, this application is the first step in determining the feasibility of this concept and the benefits and challenges, including federal funding commitments of expanding Amtrak service to the I-20 route.”
SRC Chairman Knox Ross noted that has been a long time since this type of service has been explored.
“This has the potential to be the first new Amtrak service of its kind in more than 25 years. It would come in an area that has long been underserved by passenger rail,” said Ross. “Now that we have a way forward for new state-sponsored corridor service between New Orleans and Mobile, the I-20 route has been identified by the SRC as its next priority.”
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