News & Reviews News Wire Gulf Coast passenger filings pit Alabama against Mississippi

Gulf Coast passenger filings pit Alabama against Mississippi

By David Lassen | April 29, 2021

Comments to Surface Transportation Board on Amtrak efforts to restore service fall in two distinct camps

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Blue sign with white lettering, with some information removed
On Feb. 12, 2015, a sign at the Pascagoula, Miss., station remains that showed departure information for the ‘Gulf Coast Limited.’ which ceased operation in 1997. (Bob Johnston)

Selected comments of politicians, organizations, and communities on the fight over Gulf Coast passenger service, as expressed in letters to the Surface Transportation Board [see “Analysis: Amtrak defends its Gulf Coast access request in new STB filing,” Trains News Wire, April 29, 2021]:

Calling for completion of traffic modeling

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R): “For several years, Alabama has withheld funding for the new Gulf Coast passenger service because of our concern that any economic benefit from new passenger rail service will be outweighed by the potential harm to freight rail service based on current infrastructure.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.): “I believe that initiating new Gulf Coast passenger rail service should be guided by the best available data and information.”

Alabama Railway Association: “The ARA has deep reservations regarding Amtrak initiating new passenger rail service at Mobile without the proper study or investments to ensure freight and container intermodal rail service is not degraded, and ensuring there is sufficient capacity for continued freight growth.”

Alabama State Port Authority: “Amtrak’s STB petition deprives our seaport, our shippers, and our freight railroads of appropriate assessments to preserve safety and reliability of freight rail service at one of the nation’s largest seaports.”

Port of New Orleans and New Orleans Public Belt: “Since 2005, when Passenger Rail Service was last active, Port Nola and the NOPB have both experienced significant growth and increased economic development and investments in the area….This comprehensive study is needed to adequately understand the impact the Passenger Rail Service will have on current and future freight service through the region.

Supporting an expedited STB hearing

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R): “Amtrak has the right to access necessary freight rail infrastructure and Mississippi residents deserve to benefit from passenger rail service.”

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.): “The groundwork for successful passenger service has already been laid with the Southern Rail Commission having secured approximately $11 million in federal funding for operating costs and $66 million in federal and local funding to make improvements along the Gulf Coast Corridor.”

Southern Rail Commission: “The SRC has diligently worked to address purported obstacles to restoring service CSX identified: working with the U.S. Coast Guard to successfully resolve bridge access issues, resolving missing and incomplete bridge tender log data, and making trips to ports and yards along the Gulf Coast to collaborate with locals identifying solutions to address access and movement concerns.”

Port of Pascagoula, Miss.: “We modified the design of our 2015 rail relocation project to move the CSX interchange (with the port’s railroad) off the CSX mainline, thereby reducing congestion on it. We feel that passenger and freight rail can coexist in Pascagoula and hope the STB will look favorably on Amtrak’s request.”

Hancock County Development Foundation and Chamber of Commerce: (identical letters) “Today, with the hope of passenger rail service on the horizon, outside investors have come in [to Bay St. Louis, Miss.], purchased dilapidated and non-producing buildings, put them back on the tax rolls, and recruited retail businesses and restaurants to invest in opening new businesses there.”

4 thoughts on “Gulf Coast passenger filings pit Alabama against Mississippi

  1. sounds like it is not really wanted and the highways and other RR’s have taken over. Maybe it is best to forget it and move on. If the people in the area really want it, they should flood Congress with letters and calls, so Amtrak has a better idea of what to do.

  2. The proposed 3 hour 23 minute schedule is approximately the same as the Hummingbird in 1961. Meanwhile Interstate 10 has reduced the car or bus time between NOPUT (Amtrak station) and the proposed Mobile Amtrak station to less than 2 hours 15 minutes by car or express bus (Google drive times). The service as proposed does not make sense. I can see Amtrak fighting for a 2 hour 30 minute trip or faster but not this anachronism.

  3. Why doesn’t Amtrak give up on this venture & put their effort into regions that want the service, they don’t want them in Alabama or Ohio.

    1. The real issue isn’t the people of Mobile, it is the damn port of Alabama and NS and CSX that have taken obstructionism to a new level.

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