Amtrak renews request for expedited STB consideration of Gulf Coast service

July 9, 2021
With the estimated start of service less than six months away, the railroad is working with CSX and NS to perform assessments on safety, operations and station infrastructure.

Amtrak has filed a second request with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) renewing its call for expedited consideration to operate passenger train service between New Orleans, La., and Mobile, Ala., using track owned by CSX and Norfolk Southern (NS).

The railroad first filed its request with the STB on March 16 and has been targeting a start date for the service of on or about Jan. 1, 2022. Similar service ended in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina severely damaged the track structure.

In its second filing, Amtrak noted “the restoration of passenger service between New Orleans and Mobile is an important piece of a national vision to make intercity passenger rail service a more vital part of the nation’s transportation system…The residents of the Gulf Coast have already waited many years to have their passenger rail service restored such that this vision can become a reality.”

There has been movement regarding work with the two Class 1 freight railroads. Amtrak reports in its filing that it has been granted access to CSX and NS properties to evaluate station infrastructure, as well as assess safety and operations aspects of service restoration.

In an opinion piece published in Mass Transit, Amtrak President Stephen Gardner and President and CEO of the New York Building Congress Carlo A. Scissura wrote that expanded infrastructure and transportation options can provide “tangible mechanisms of economic opportunity” with passenger rail providing a pivotal solution.

“To accomplish this, Amtrak aims to expand nationwide rail service to build infrastructure in and between our metropolitan areas (the Gulf Coast, Pacific Northwest, etc.) and create passenger rail corridors all around the country, similar to the highly trafficked Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston. Today, many of America’s fastest growing cities have insufficient or nonexistent passenger rail service. Amtrak is well suited to help them and the many communities – big and small – in between by providing a more sustainable and equitable way to connect cities, people and regional economies,” said Gardner and Scissura.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.