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Proposal for Atlanta-area commuter rail line may be scrapped

By | September 16, 2021

Norfolk Southern declines to share line, substantially raising project cost

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MARTA LogoATLANTA — A proposed Atlanta-area commuter rail line is likely to be scrapped after Norfolk Southern told the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority it would not share its rail line with the passenger operation.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the planned line would run from MARTA’s East Point station southwest of downtown Atlanta to the Clayton County communities of Jonesboro and Lovejoy, a distance of about 15 miles. To build the route without using the existing NS line, Marta would have to acquire about 300 separate properties, raising the construction cost of the line from $1.7 billion to $2.3 billion.

“Without the ability to share the existing rail corridor with the railroad, the impacts of that project are immense and will make the project difficult to deliver,” MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker told county commissioners.

In a written statement to the paper, Norfolk Southern cited a 2016 study saying it would be possible for MARTA to build a parallel but separate line, which would serve both commuter and freight customers. “We remain open to working toward this approach so we may collectively serve the needs of all stakeholders,” the statement said.

MARTA will now study other options, such as bus rapid transit.

5 thoughts on “Proposal for Atlanta-area commuter rail line may be scrapped

  1. I think a case could be made that NS is violating the terms of their charter by not providing common carrier service. They can either provide the service themselves or sell the tracks to the state to manage and use get trackage rights.

  2. This type of action by the railroads needs to stop…permanently, otherwise the choice of allowing right-of-way use by government agencies will not be a choice in the near future, it will be mandated and there won’t be any compensation included.

  3. This is a very busy single track corridor, one of the busiest in the country. It’s hard to see how trains can be added w/out risking gridlock. Note that NS isn’t opposed to the corridor being used. They are working to ensure it works efficiently for all parties.

  4. Georgia DOT has long fancied the notion of a 100 mile intrastate passenger train between Atlanta and Macon. Their current plans look to use this route. Maybe the state of Georgia is going to be willing to chip in money for the line? Or maybe this means the practical end of that Atlanta-Macon dream.

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