Budget Bill Puts Gulf Coast Amtrak Service Back On Track

March 27, 2018

The $1.3 trillion omnibus bill signed by President Donald Trump provides big wins and great opportunities for the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) and for the return of Amtrak service on the Gulf Coast, including Pensacola and Atmore.

The bill provides significant increases in funding for passenger rail capital and operating programs, and includes report language that is supportive of the ongoing work to support passenger rail projects across the southern coast, the SRC said Monday.

“The Southern Rail Commission is grateful to Senator Thad Cochran, Appropriations Committee Chair and Senator Roger Wicker of the Commerce Committee – as well as the Congressional delegations from Alabama, Louisiana, and  Mississippi – for the commitment to the restoration of passenger rail service across America’s Gulf Coast. These programs can provide the resources that will get passenger rail up and going,” said SRC Mississippi Commissioner, Vice Chairman Knox Ross.

The final bill represents the largest single year increase for the full Amtrak budget as well as the national system. There is $35,547,000 set aside to restore lost passenger rail service such as the Gulf Coast route.

Amtrak service between New Orleans and Orlando was suspended in 2005 due to significant damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Work is underway in collaboration with the Federal Rail Administration (FRA), the states of  Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast Congressional leadership, CSX, Amtrak and the SRC to identify needs and specific funding for phasing capital construction and operations for the restored passenger rail service. Some of this funding could be acquired through the newly appropriated federal rail programs. The SRC has also received significant interest and initial commitments from private sector partners across the Gulf Coast interested in contributing to the rail project.

Also, the SRC and FRA are currently providing $1.33M in grant funds to communities in Louisiana,  Mississippi and Alabama for station area planning and rail safety improvements. These communities have contributed their own cash match, resulting in more than $2.6M in projects underway in preparation for service restoration.

Pictured: An Amtrak inspection train rolls in Atmore (top and bottom) and Pensacola (inset) in February 2016. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


14 Responses to “Budget Bill Puts Gulf Coast Amtrak Service Back On Track”

  1. Randy Burke on April 23rd, 2018 2:57 pm

    This comment is for all the people who are complaining about the funding bill let me ask you this what about the billions upon billions of tax dollars being wasted on wars and foreign aid you do the math is that ok no it’s not I would rather my tax dollars be invested on building a much better passenger rail infrastructure it would create jobs in the rail and tourism industry

  2. mike on March 29th, 2018 9:00 pm

    Ronald Reagan said economic growth must come from the private sector. I don’t think he meant taxpayer dollars. That said, after all the hogs have been at the trough, at least the (southern) American citizen will be able to use a train, just like our northern neighbors.

    How about a bailout for us? Be nice to get OUR debt wiped out for a change instead of bankers, stock brokers and loan officers. :D

  3. Northend resident on March 28th, 2018 10:24 pm

    This service would be a nice asset to have for our community, but when you can’t afford something, it’s better to do without!

    Bottom line is….the Commander in Chief of this Country, didn’t even know what was in the Omnibus bill that he signed, his words. The powers that be had 16 hours and 40 minutes to read and debate 2232 pages. I mean, how ridiculous is that and what happened to common sense Gov’t?

    One would think that it would be a #1 policy priority after this to change that procedure or this sort of thing will just continue to occur. I’m just shaking my head!

  4. HappyPedaler on March 28th, 2018 1:13 pm

    Thinker, not sure what NAFTA has to do with any of this, but since you brought it up:

    The bill passed the Senate on November 20, 1993, 61–38. Senate supporters were 34 Republicans and 27 Democrats. Clinton signed it into law on December 8, 1993; the agreement went into effect on January 1, 1994.

  5. Jim on March 28th, 2018 9:43 am

    Again, dumping millions of our dollars into ths pipe dream of a few. And, not enough money for school resource officers?

  6. CXS RR on March 28th, 2018 4:11 am

    There is $35,547,000 set aside to restore lost passenger rail service such as the Gulf Coast route…

    CSX, owner of the rails Amtrak would use on a Gulf Coast route estimated it would cost 1.2 billion to become compliant for passenger service. That is a long way from 35.5 million set aside.
    New fed regulations for passenger service require a remote train control system to limit speed or stop the train if needed . None of the gulf coast route from Mobile to Orlando is so equipped.

  7. Avis on March 27th, 2018 11:19 pm

    Passenger trains never caught on in USA because we have spent a fortune on building roads and highways to go anywhere you want in your own car. Those roads are far superior to those in countries where trains are popular and people can’t afford to buy cars there. If you cannot appreciate the conveniences of American roads and highways and how well they are maintained, then you really should get out more. Trust me, you don’t want a train dependent transportation system.

  8. Kay on March 27th, 2018 7:59 pm

    Can’t wait for Amtrak to return to Pensacola. Rode my first Amtrak in 2010 & it was soooo cool. Can’t wait to travel the gulf coast on Amtrak again.

  9. Niknak50 on March 27th, 2018 6:42 pm

    Thinker……stop and think….federal funds ARE taxpayer dollars.

  10. chris on March 27th, 2018 2:04 pm

    Because Atmore doesn’t have enough trains coming through as it is….

  11. Thinker on March 27th, 2018 1:29 pm

    Those that are so critical of federal funds being used to try and spur business in the United States… resurrect our failing economy… would you really rather all federal assistance keep going to third world countries? How much more should we spend to rebuild bridges and buildings there, only to blow them up again later??

    Since all industry was sent overseas after NAFTA was signed into being… by a republican president… ours jobs disappeared. Now everyone is critical of the tariffs being put in place to make it a lot less profitable for industry to use slave labor overseas and maybe consider doing business right here,

    The government made this mess. Why shouldn’t they clean it up!

  12. mike on March 27th, 2018 9:47 am

    Wall Street, Detroit, Fannie and Freddy, now Amtrak. Wow, the American taxpayer sure has propped up big biz. Anybody see a pattern here, and more importantly, what does it bode for the economy when the private sector can’t stand on it’s own? :D

  13. gabe on March 27th, 2018 9:39 am

    Awesome,looking forward to travel along the Gulf Coast by train

  14. Niknak50 on March 27th, 2018 9:10 am

    I’m sorry, I don’t care what your business is, if it can’t make it without being subsidized by the taxpayers, it needs to go. Where in our constitution did our founding fathers provide for tax dollars to be supporting of any business?

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