Gulf Coast passenger rail service development agreement signed between Louisiana Gov. Edwards, Louisiana DOTD and Amtrak

Oct. 27, 2023
The new route will connect to the New Orleans to Mobile corridor projected to open in 2024; the service could start as early as 2027 and the planned route is scheduled to take 75-90 minutes from start to finish.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, along with representatives from Louisiana Department of Transportation and development and Amtrak, signed a service development agreement Oct. 26 that will advance the return of intercity passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

“An Amtrak line connecting Louisiana’s capital to the largest metropolitan area in the state will have immense economic benefits for both cities and the parishes in between,” said Gov. Edwards. “Not only will this service potentially reduce the number of vehicles on the roadways, which will result in less congestion, but it will also connect communities through employment opportunities and allow for more transportation options for festivals, sporting events and concerts.”  

 The agreement is a breakthrough for a project that has roots in 2008, when the idea was introduced through a concept study. According to the agreement, passenger service could start as early as 2027. 

“Baton Rouge lost passenger rail service in 1969, two years before Amtrak began,” said Amtrak Chief CEO Stephen Gardner. “This is a step toward correcting a gap in the Amtrak National Network that is more than 54 years old. Amtrak is working with states and others across the nation to have a route map that reflects where the population has grown and where people want to travel. In poll after poll, here in Louisiana and nationally, when given the option to take a train rather than drive, the public wants Amtrak and passenger trains as a travel choice.” 

The route, which has yet to be named, is planned to have the following stops: 

  • Baton Rouge Downtown 
  • Baton Rouge South 
  • Gonzales 
  • LaPlace 
  • New Orleans Int’l Airport 
  • Jefferson Parish 
  • New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal 

The planned route is scheduled to take 75-90 minutes from start to finish. The initial plan is for one round trip daily, expanding to two round trips daily later, pending evaluation of operations and potential railroad improvement needs. Additional round trips could be introduced in the future. 

"This historic agreement represents a significant step forward in uniting our dynamic capital city, Baton Rouge, with our neighbor, New Orleans,” said Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “It emphasizes our commitment to economic growth and improved public transportation for our residents and commuters along the route. We’re excited to welcome travelers to our future train depot, a link that will further position Baton Rouge as an important hub in southeast Louisiana."  

Amtrak will release schedules and fares at a later date closer to the launch of the new service. Amtrak will use tracks currently in place and owned by Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) and CN railways. The tracks, which run along the I-10 corridor, are one of three routes that connect New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The CPKC/CN tracks were selected because they were the most direct and had less conflict with freight transportation. 

Benefits of adding the service include a reliable, safe alternative to driving, environmental quality with less vehicular traffic, economic development near stations, added jobs in multiple sectors and emergency evacuation availability if needed. 

Infrastructure upgrades will begin in 2024 and can include replacing the existing CPKC rail bridge across the Bonnet Carre Spillway near Airline Highway pending the outcome of several federal discretionary grant applications submitted within the last year. 

The new route will connect to the New Orleans to Mobile corridor projected to open in 2024. These routes will join the Sunset Limited, city of New Orleans and Crescent lines in Amtrak’s Louisiana route schedule, all using the city-owned New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal and Amtrak facilities immediately to the west.  

The last passenger train between Baton Rouge and New Orleans was the Southern Belle, which a railroad predecessor of CPKC was given permission to discontinue in November of 1969

Amtraklogo 10626064


Sept. 30, 2011