Amtrak’s Sunset Limited Passenger Train Could Return
August 16, 2012
Amtrak’s Sunset Limited passenger train, which rain from New Orleans through Pensacola to Jacksonville before Hurricane Katrina, may once again travel the rails.
On Thursday, Gulf Coast officials will meet to discuss moving closer to the return of passenger rail service to the area. In all, more than 40 mayors, lawmakers and representatives will attend a summit in Mobile. When they are done, the group hopes to have a proposal to present to Amtrak and Congress.
Prior to Katrina, the Sunset Limited stopped in Atmore before heading south through North Escambia for a stop in Pensacola. Due to track damage by Hurricane Katrina, service ended east of New Orleans. But those tracks have been repaired and are currently supporting freight service.
The Escambia County Commission passed a resolution earlier this year in support of returning passenger rail service for several reasons. The resolution pointed out that the Pensacola area is isolated with no train service and no passenger connection to the rest of the nation. The commission also said that the Sunset Limited would create economic opportunities for Escambia County.
While a New Orleans to Jacksonville Sunset Limited route would include a stop in Pensacola, it is not yet known if the Atmore stop would be restored. A 2009 report indicated that it would cost $740,147 to demolish the Atmore station and replace it with a new station that meets current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
Documents obtained by NorthEscambia.com show that very few people — less than an average of three per week — ever boarded the Sunset Limited in Atmore. In 2003, there were 223 that boarded the passenger rail service in Atmore; 292 in 2004; and 255 prior to the service’s end in August 2005.
Pictured top: The train station in Atmore has not seen a passenger train since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.