Amtrak Service Could Return; Senator Wants Your Opinion

November 18, 2016

Amtrak passenger rail service restoration could be possible in the future for the Gulf Coast.

The Gulf Coast Rail Service Working Group was established by the FAST Act in December 2015 to evaluate the restoration of rail passenger service between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Orlando, Florida. The previously-existing passenger rail service was stopped prior to Hurricane Katrina. Damage to the route has been repaired and freight service was restored, but the passenger rail service has not been restored.

The group evaluating the possible restoration of passenger rail service includes members from the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, CSX, Southern Rail Commission, West Florida Regional Planning Council, and other stakeholders along the Gulf Coast. The group has been convening to discuss details for the possible restoration, including funding and prioritization of actions to be taken should the restoration be approved. The result of these meetings will be a full report submitted by the group to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, and the committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives.

The Gulf Coast Rail Service Working Group encourages community input regarding the project. Senator Bill Nelson is a ranking member of the Senate Committee that will review the final report provided by the Gulf Coast Rail Service Working Group. Community members are asked to send an email stating their position on the project to one of the following contacts at Senator Bill Nelson’s office by the end of the year:

Devon Barnhart –

Mary Louise Hester -

Pictured top and inset: An Amtrak inspection train rolls in Atmore in February 2016. Pictured below: The train arrives in Pensacola. file photos, click to enlarge.


40 Responses to “Amtrak Service Could Return; Senator Wants Your Opinion”

  1. E Ramos on January 9th, 2017 1:48 am

    YES!! Please bring Amtrak back and with a reasonable schedule and routes! But be warned, if you have a train that goes to Jacksonville, I suggest you have another SEPARATE train that goes to Orlando. I’m a huge advocate of improving our FL infrastructure, especially via trains. But please, ensure a more direct and quicker route to/from the panhandle to/from Orlando. if not, that could be detrimental to the train’s success. I realize everyone can’t be satisfied but hopefully, you can accommodate most of us.

    This is wonderful news that this is coming back, but when???? I’m ready to go to Destin (or a near-by station). Yippeee!!

  2. John on December 14th, 2016 7:41 am

    YES YES YES When this rail line returns many snow birds and their family’s will be on board. We here in Wisconsin and Illinois will be ready to come down to the Gulf Coast . I could foresee folks doing long weekends or mini vacations Build it and we will come. Cant wait! Its a win win .

  3. Paw Paw on November 21st, 2016 7:30 pm

    If the ticket prices were lowered the number of passengers would go up. A full car costs the same to pull down the tracks as one with 5 or 6 passengers. Same as filling a restaurant. Lower the price of each ticket to increase riders and increase profit. Common sense!

  4. M in Bratt on November 21st, 2016 7:08 pm

    I have to comment again, This country just elected a president, and both houses of congress that promised to cut waste, and balance the budget. How in the world can they ever balance the budget if they dump more money down the bottomless pit of AMTRAK and other wasteful endeavors? If it were feasible to run passenger trains, CSX and the other railroads would be clamoring to get passenger cars on their tracks. We all want to balance the budget unless doing so affects the serving of pork we want to put on our plates. If AMTRAK can not make a profit, or at least break even, it should be shut down. If the government gave up their monopoly on passenger train service, private investors could possibly take over and run passenger trains in places where it is economically feasible.

  5. Richard Loza on November 21st, 2016 10:00 am

    I whole heartedly support the restoration of Amtrak service along the Gulf Coast. I have read the comments that it previously had low ridership but I feel that was due to the time the train used to pull into Pensacola. Remind me, 1 or 2 am? Amtrak, make the schedule worth while and you will get riders.

  6. Freda Whaley on November 21st, 2016 7:54 am

    I’d give anything to see it come back to Pensacola. I now live in Ohio with Amtrak service. It’s a wonderful way to travel. To be able to come back *home* via the train. It would make traveling safer and easier for me. It’s also cheaper than driving or taking a plane. And if they put an auto train on it would be even better.

  7. js on November 20th, 2016 12:36 am

    more govt subsidized waste, paid by the taxpayer. (ECAT)
    Do your homework, a quick search will give you the numbers.
    It will literally put you in a bad mood.
    Take a step back, look at the numbers, and ask, do we really “need” to spend more tax money on something this trivial? Forget nostalgia.
    It’s money you will never get back in any way, shape or form. Unless you win a contract to make the improvements to make it happen.
    Improvements made to accommodate a “passenger rail” will be paid by you and I, and millions of other who will never use it.
    Why don’t they just set up a gov’t funded ferry that goes to the halfway point of garcon point bridge and turns around? Because they just have not figured out a way to convince people “they” need it.

  8. Todd OBert on November 19th, 2016 9:35 pm

    I can’t believe a happening city like Pensacola doesn’t have Amtrak service. The sooner the better for this community.

  9. M in Bratt on November 19th, 2016 8:23 pm

    These responses are hilarious, I’ll refresh your memory, AMTRAK was here and nobody rode it and it was shut down. Even with the heavy subsidies they received from the tax payers, the low ridership shut it down. I am all for any form of transportation that pays it’s own way, but AMTRAK has proven that it can not. I challenge anybody that is all for this to make the trip to the Jacksonville AMTRAK station and see the collection of people that use the service. I suspect that a lot of them are there because they can not for what ever reason get through TSA screenings to get on a plane. For the railroad nostalgia buffs, got to Disney world, or Dollywood, both places have passenger trains that operate for a profit, and don’t cost the treasury a cent.

  10. TRAVELING NANA on November 19th, 2016 11:33 am

    Hey I’m a (young 70) … How about rushing this along, would love to travel by train. Still have a lot of places 2 see and short time 2 get there.

  11. Don on November 19th, 2016 10:18 am

    Yes! Passenger service would be a great benefit to those who would rather relax traveling rather than spending time driving.

  12. Elizabeth Perry on November 19th, 2016 9:56 am

    This would be wonderful. I have friends in New Orleans and it would be so much easier to visit or shop.

  13. Molly Sanford on November 19th, 2016 7:31 am

    Yes, definitely! Amtrak is my favorite way to travel.

  14. Derrick Edmondson on November 19th, 2016 7:16 am

    It’s about time this part of our infrastructure!

  15. Renee on November 19th, 2016 7:12 am

    I would use the railroad extension.I would want a train from west palm to cape coral. East to west coast.

  16. Dave DeWitt on November 19th, 2016 2:24 am

    Sweet!!! I’ve been hoping for this for years!

  17. Zach on November 18th, 2016 11:58 pm

    Yes for the Amtrak!

  18. Cheryl Cole on November 18th, 2016 11:44 pm

    I support the train coming back to the Gulf coast.I do not fly and the bus is to long.CNN not get up n stretch please come and support gulf Coast etc band together.

  19. David Sutherlin on November 18th, 2016 11:00 pm

    CSX what a responsible railroad. Hope they will agree to putting Amtrak trains ahead of freight if possible. Thus giving the option to save the inconvience of going north to Virgina to go south to get to Florida. What a Great idea–Bring the service on!

  20. William Guy on November 18th, 2016 10:57 pm

    Return of service along the Gulf coast is way overdue!

  21. Cathi on November 18th, 2016 9:43 pm

    Yes, with different cruise terminals from New Orleans to south Fl, this would be a great way to travel to them. We would use it!

  22. Charlotte Mullen on November 18th, 2016 9:31 pm

    I think this would be wonderful for the economy

  23. Cheyenne on November 18th, 2016 9:26 pm


  24. Joanne on November 18th, 2016 7:58 pm

    Would love to see service here ! That means more family would come visit for those that don’t fly.

  25. Dave on November 18th, 2016 5:29 pm

    Yes, we need it.

  26. Susan Hamel on November 18th, 2016 4:05 pm

    It would be awesome if passenger train service returned to North Florida. We would definitely use it!

  27. Brenda on November 18th, 2016 2:35 pm

    absolutely FOR bringing Amtrak back; we need it!

  28. Henry Lee Swarey on November 18th, 2016 1:26 pm

    Our whole family would love to see this service restored in this part of the country! We are train enthusiasts, and as soon as there is service between Florida and New Orleans again you will see us riding the rails! We have been waiting for this for years! Please make this happen ASAP!

  29. Dan on November 18th, 2016 11:00 am

    It would be great, we need the relief, at a reasonable price.

  30. chris on November 18th, 2016 10:59 am

    “A vintage steam Locomotive pulling vintage passenger cars .” I am sure that 20-somethings would just flock to that! Ask Century how living in the past is working out for them.

  31. Grandma on November 18th, 2016 10:58 am

    As a retired senior, if the ticket prices are low enough I would love to travel the whole USA on Amtrak. With the baby boomers retiring, it would rival RVing!

  32. Me on November 18th, 2016 10:25 am

    I think it would be great if there was a direct route to the Atlanta airport. It would be more convenient for travel. It’s crazy how much time you have to wait around at the airport only to have to change flights in an hour. Just hop on the train and get a cheaper flight.

  33. Ray on November 18th, 2016 10:14 am

    Amtrak would not be on the old Frisco tracks at all they will be on CSX tracks I hope to see them comming back .

  34. Bob Barkman on November 18th, 2016 9:56 am

    Absolutely; YES. Positive’s outweigh the negatives. Lets make it happen.

  35. bwayne on November 18th, 2016 8:26 am

    NO….too fast, too dangerous, and we have enough traffic hold-ups with CSX now. Don’t need Amtrak adding to the congestion.

  36. sue on November 18th, 2016 8:21 am

    “restoration of rail passenger service between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Orlando, Florida”
    The article doesn’t sound like a leisure Pensacola to Atmore trip is in the mix. And, I have always been leery of some of the condition of the rails in this area when it comes to using them for the fast moving passenger trains like AmTrak vs. our normal trains that just transport goods, especially if the “seldom used old Frisco line” has not been routinely maintained. Train rides sound great, until you read about the derailment accidents…. Just sayin….

  37. Ben Gilardi on November 18th, 2016 7:15 am

    In principle I am very strongly for restoring passenger rail service to the gulf coast. For it to be successful however it will need to transport people between the major destinations faster / easier than one driving the same route. I would not be surprised in the service does not meet this goal when first opened, but I hope the goal is to continuously improve until the goal is met.

    Thank you for your time!

    Ben Gilardi

  38. Jack Anthony on November 18th, 2016 6:53 am

    Yes for return of Amtrak service to the Gulf Coast. That would close a huge gap in service.

  39. SHO-NUFF on November 18th, 2016 6:00 am

    A passenger train from Pensacola to Atmore on the seldom used old Frisco line would do well.
    People could take a day trip from Pensacola to Atmore, then a shuttle to the Casino and return home the same day.
    Its beautiful scenery along the route, and rail fans would come from all over just for the ride.
    A vintage steam Locomotive pulling vintage passenger cars would really make the trip a must do!

  40. mike on November 18th, 2016 5:28 am

    Yes! Can’t be anything but good for Florida & the nation! :)

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