$5.45 Million Grant Awarded To Support Amtrak’s Return To The Gulf Coast. But Not To Pensacola Or Atmore.

May 4, 2020

The return of passenger rail service along part of the Gulf Coast has received millions in funding, but not for service to Atmore, Pensacola and the rest of Florida.
A $5.45 million grant has been awarded from Restoration and Enhancement Grants Program for service from New Orleans to Mobile, The award will fund operating expenses for the first and second years of service along the restored rail line and also leverages commitments from the states of Louisiana and Mississippi and the City of Mobile. Florida is not a member of the Southern Rail Commission.

“I would like express my gratitude for continued support at the federal, state, and local levels as we work to bring passenger rail back to the Gulf Coast. This award brings us one step closer to realizing the many benefits that restored passenger service will have for our communities in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana,” SRC Chairman Wiley Blackenship said.

So far there’s no word of any funding continue service past Mobile to Atmore which is home to Alabama’s office rail welcome station or on into Florida. Existing railroad track heads from Atmore to Flomaton and south through Century to Pensacola then eastward to Jacksonville. Passenger rail service from Pensacola to Jacksonville ended after Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

The announcement follows other recent federal awards to the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) for Gulf Coast passenger service restoration, including $33 million through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program to complete major infrastructure and capital improvements necessary for service restoration.

The Commission was also awarded a R&E grant of $4.36 million in 2019 to support operating expenses for a portion of the first year of service along the new rail line. These investments confirm the regional and national support for rail restoration along the Gulf Coast and show confidence in the anticipated benefits of the returned service.

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


17 Responses to “$5.45 Million Grant Awarded To Support Amtrak’s Return To The Gulf Coast. But Not To Pensacola Or Atmore.”

  1. Charlotte R Bates on May 5th, 2020 7:28 pm

    This is one of my bucket list, is to ride on a train before I die. Flying is totally out of the question. I have been on an airplane in the past, but since 911, I just can’t bring myself to get on a plane. I’m not for AmTraks or against them, just something I would love to do, is ride on one, before I die.

  2. JTV on May 4th, 2020 7:54 pm

    @ Tom, why would we want a high speed rail? Amtrak is losing money and we can fly for way less. I’m glad we aren’t paying for government led crap. We are a country of drivers, cars are our life.

  3. chris on May 4th, 2020 5:46 pm

    @Angela Sealy: Why would Amtrak stop in Atmore? What could possibly be profitable for them there? If not for the tribe, Atmore would dry up and blow away.

  4. Henry Coe on May 4th, 2020 3:32 pm

    With low gas prices and a serious lack of tourist destinations for the next year or two, this seems like bad timing or maybe good timing if you are Amtrak trying to tap into future stimulus dollars?

  5. Anthony Walker Sr on May 4th, 2020 2:52 pm

    It would be great to have Amtrak back in Pensacola, FL. again. Our city is growing plus the surrounding areas. Thanks.

  6. David T. on May 4th, 2020 1:46 pm

    In the Pensacola area – public funds are better spent on expanded local bus routes.
    Otherwise – multi-use paths to get bikes and rollerblades out of traffic.

  7. Hugh jones on May 4th, 2020 1:24 pm

    To those who say no subsidy for Amtrak
    They forget the we pay one for airline travel and for riding in the highways.
    Those subsidies are called The Federal Aviation Admin anFederal Highway system.
    They cost US a hundred of what the railroad costs !!!
    In fact just about EVERYTHING that we use from the feds is subsidised.
    Amtrak carries more people than the top airlines combined but not as an industry

  8. JJ on May 4th, 2020 12:28 pm

    Florida is NOT a member of Southern Rail Commission? There just might be a reason to join for East-West tourism traffic. Would love a train adventure getaway!

  9. Freda Lee Whaley on May 4th, 2020 12:09 pm

    Sure wish they would add a car carrier to this route so I could come visit and not have to rent a car while there.

  10. Gustavo de la Fuente Jr on May 4th, 2020 10:40 am

    My daughter used to visit me from PA, but since Amtrak stopped running she hasn’t come down. She won’t fly or drive!!

  11. southerner on May 4th, 2020 9:28 am

    It should be a service provided by the private sector, not a government subsidized, socialistic system.

  12. Alan on May 4th, 2020 9:05 am

    If my fading memory serves me correctly, when Hurricane Ivan took out sections of track in Northwest Florida, the railroad company that owns it (CSX I think) only spent money to replace the track for hauling freight. There is some sort of additional cost to upgrade the track to be able to carry people.

  13. Choo Choo on May 4th, 2020 8:10 am

    Passenger trains in Pensacola is just someone’s pipe dream. Amtrak checked out of here many years ago because it’s not profitable. Spend your money somewhere else Amtrak…………….

  14. James on May 4th, 2020 7:59 am

    @Tom I can only speak to the UK rail system. It is a money pit where both the British and Scottish governments dump millions in subsidies each year. American taxpayers in most parts of the country where road congestion is minimal and gas prices are cheap compared to the UK, EU, and Japan, won’t support passenger rail.

  15. sam on May 4th, 2020 7:50 am

    if i want to go to pensacola or mobile, i get in my car and go. just don’t see the need.

  16. Angela Sealy on May 4th, 2020 7:26 am

    Need Amtrak to come to Atmore and Montgomery AL

  17. Tom on May 4th, 2020 4:18 am

    It certainly sounds as if they are stopping at the money making locations to start. Then if all goes well we may see smaller cities and towns reopening to Amtrak service, You all must remember Amtrak doesn’t have a dedicated high speed rail line like most other developed countries, I mean if Japan,The EU,United Kingdom and even China can do it certainly we can…

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