Amtrak Service Returning Next Year To The Gulf Coast. But Not To Pensacola Or Atmore.

March 1, 2021

Daily Amtrak service will return to the Gulf Coast next year, but stops will not include Pensacola or Atmore.

Amtrak has confirmed it intends to begin passenger rail service between New Orleans and Mobile in 2022. The daily passenger rail service will feature two business friendly round trips each morning and evening, with stops in Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula.

“Having worked tirelessly with federal, state, and local officials on this project, we are thrilled that a departure time is in sight for passenger rail service on the Gulf Coast,” said Wiley Blankenship, chairman of the Southern Rail Commission. “Since the 2016 inspection train, which brought out thousands of citizens across the Gulf Coast demonstrating enthusiastic support for passenger rail, this is one of the major milestones we have been working toward.”

While the Amtrak inspection train was enthusiastically welcomed to Pensacola and Atmore, Mobile will be the end of the line. That will leave Atmore, which was designated by the Alabama Legislature as the state’s official rail welcome station, without passenger train service. And service will not return to Florida.

The SRC has been uniquely successful in securing multiple federal grants to enable the Amtrak trains roll next year between New Orleans and Mobile, including full federal support of operating costs for the first year of service and continued federal support in the second and third year ($11.2 million), and a federal grant and local matching funds for improvements to area railroad infrastructure for passenger and freight service ($66 million) to cities along the route for planning, upgrading, and constructing their rail stations ($2 million).

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

Comments

34 Responses to “Amtrak Service Returning Next Year To The Gulf Coast. But Not To Pensacola Or Atmore.”

  1. Paula on May 1st, 2021 8:50 pm

    Some great comments here.
    We have to put the horse back before the cart. A large federal investment could create sensible nationwide and local routes and viable schedules instead of the piecemeal mess we have now, especially, interestingly, in the south. This would make AMTRAK useful and attractive to a lot more people. Then, the volume of rides would start the increase in fares and financial input to the system that would help support what should be a public service in the first place.

  2. J.E. McMillan on March 9th, 2021 1:06 pm

    Its highly unlikely that Northwest Florida will ever see another Passenger Train however Megabus is a viable alternative. It roars through Pensacola at a reasonable hour instead of the dead of night and arrives in major cities east and west in daylight and is very affordable. In addition, the railroad tracks between Pensacola and Jacksonville have been sold to a private Freight entity that’s more than likely not willing to accommodate extremely expensive upgrades in order to host Passenger Trains. The previous visit in 2016 by any Amtrak Train was a nice gesture but in the end that’s all it was.

  3. Alex32534 on March 3rd, 2021 8:56 am

    It’s more economical both financially and timewise to take Greyhound. Takes roughly 3hrs and only stops in Mobile, drops you off by the Superdome and you save on parking, plus they have wifi. I used to balk at taking the bus, but it isn’t bad at all. Barring it costs $100 round trip and gets you there in under 3hrs, the train just wouldn’t be worth it.
    I remember when we had Amtrack to NOLA, it was very expensive, left at crummy hours, and took forever… You could literally drive to NOLA, eat lunch, and drive home in the time it took the train.

  4. Kathy on March 2nd, 2021 7:32 pm

    Pensacola, Tallahassee and Jacksonville need to be stops.

  5. Debra Verner on March 2nd, 2021 5:35 pm

    I wish it was coming back to Pensacola, but I’ll take Mobile over New Orleans any day. Woo Hoo!

  6. Shadrick on March 2nd, 2021 5:21 pm

    Looks like your politicians failed you again Pensacola. You have one of the newer structures on the line that could have been a premiere station stop. It would have generated more revenue for the beaches, Uber drivers, restaurants, motels, but you failed to see the big picture. I think Pensacola beaches are a bigger tourist draw than New Orleans, but who knows. I still think if the politicians wanted it, it would have happened.

  7. W. Walther on March 2nd, 2021 1:35 pm

    This is a “public” transit system, not a “for profit” business, regardless of the original concept of Amtrak. The highways are not “for profit”, nor are airports, city bus systems, etc. This silly notion that everything we touch must make money is so ludicrous. I ran my own businesses for most of my life, so please do not accuse me of being some sort of socialist or communist. There are services that should provide anyone the ability to, at the very least, transport themselves even if they do not own a vehicle. Not everyone can afford one, nor are some, like disabled and elderly, able to drive a car to any great distance, even if they have one.

  8. T on March 2nd, 2021 9:02 am

    I would rather it come back to Pensacola but catching the train from mobile us better than the options we have now.

  9. Duke off Wawbeek on March 2nd, 2021 8:24 am

    Stop in Canoe. They could use the economic stimulus and Canoe borders my domain, I like to see my neighbors do good.

    There is public money for every thing else under the sun; old cash cow America.

  10. James Williams on March 2nd, 2021 6:56 am

    Amtrack needs to expand this service to Jacksonville Florida or at least Tallahassee or bare minimum Pensacola.

  11. James Porter on March 2nd, 2021 3:36 am

    Amtrak has never even broke even. Has always cost us tax payers a lot of money.
    Projected cost of this short route $79,2000,000. How many fares will it take to make that feasible?
    It’s our money folks. The government doesn’t make money (well they do print it at will which devalues what we already have).
    How much burden are you willing to put on wage earners, kids and grandkids for a nostalgic ride?

  12. Timothy John Trivino on March 2nd, 2021 2:21 am

    that seems good news to hear that amtrak is resuming gulf coast service from new orleans to mobile

  13. Wendell on March 2nd, 2021 1:21 am

    This is good to hear. Amtrak, is an enjoyable escape from, driving, rushing, and offer relaxing way to be ready for your destination. New Orleans to Mobile, Penscola or Jacksonville, let’s do it.

  14. Lenora Gray on March 2nd, 2021 12:08 am

    Looking forward to this adventure. As chairperson of a Senior Adult Ministry, we have always enjoyed Amtrak.We have experienced several adventures via Amtrak to Chicago, Memphis and Laurel, Mississippi. Always , comfort, excitement and relaxing. I have three or four dozen senior adults anxiously awaiting the reinstatement of the train ride to the Gulf Coast.

  15. Brandi Fleischmann on March 1st, 2021 11:52 pm

    I am absolutely waiting for AMTRAK to go to Mobile. I will ride it from Emeryville, CA to LA, CA and on to Alabama. Yippee!!!!!

  16. Nancy Hall on March 1st, 2021 11:25 pm

    My husband and I taken the train from Seattle to Chicago several times- those trains are better than the New Orleans/Chicago trains. We have also taken the train from Chicago to San Francisco- those trains are very comfortable and the staff is terrific. First, I think the tracks in the northern regions are much better than the NOLA/Chi tracks. Secondly, my husband tips generously before we leave the station and thirdly, we always get the deluxe bedroom. We usually have dinner served in our bedroom and eat the other two meals in the dining car. Train travel gives us the opportunity to slow our pace, enjoy the scenery and enjoy each other. We love the trains.

  17. Susie Q on March 1st, 2021 8:45 pm

    Looking forward to it.

  18. Safebear on March 1st, 2021 3:15 pm

    A few years ago I decided to take Amtrak from Newark, NJ to Birmingham for my Christmas trip home. 22 hours on the train. I was in a business class seat that laid almost flat for me to sleep. Staff was very cordial. There was a dining car where I ate dinner and breakfast and was surprised it was really good. I thought it would be microwaved but it was cooked on the train. The driving time for this trip is 17 hours, not counting bio-breaks, food and fuel. This trip was fun, I had people to talk to and it was really cool seeing all the holiday decorations in a lot of the small towns we went through at night.

    I’ll do it again if I have the time to do it. I did fly back because I wanted to spend more time with the family and the cost 1 way on the train and 1 way back on the airplane was as much as a round-trip airfare. It would have been a lot more expensive if I had gotten a sleeper car for the trip. Sleeper car 1 way was over $400. Business class train 1 way – $158 and one way back on the airplane was $166.

  19. Osman Hossain on March 1st, 2021 2:32 pm

    I want to keep all the Amtrak and Amtrak trains all year every year.

  20. Melvin on March 1st, 2021 1:26 pm

    Glad to hear,This will eliminate the need to drive to New Orleans if you desire a train

  21. Maria Castillo on March 1st, 2021 12:41 pm

    I wish the Amtrak would come to Pensacola .I like the train ride. I live in Michigan and take the train from Flint, Michigan to San Antonio ,Texas

    When I heard the Amtrak was going to the Gulf
    Coast I was so excited . Disappointed that Pensacola, Florida wasn’t included.
    I call my friends and family from Texas and Michigan.What a let down when Pensacola wasn’t included.

  22. Just saying on March 1st, 2021 11:41 am

    Until passenger rail service travels high speed on its own tracks passenger service is a nothing more than a novelty.

  23. Honest John on March 1st, 2021 11:38 am

    Good news for me cause I sure plan to be on it !

  24. Bill on March 1st, 2021 11:30 am

    Amtrak is great if you’re looking for a more expensive and slower way to travel.

  25. Sunrise Photo on March 1st, 2021 11:01 am

    @SueB

    That’s not true. Amtrak made a survey of the rails through Pensacola on 2/19/2016 as part of a larger survey of 28 cities by the Southern Rail Commission. Federal Regulations require the railroads to undertake a great deal of expense and install positive train control, which is not installed between Pensacola and further east and south down to Orlando and Jacksonville (at least that was the case as of 2016). Following that, CSX sold the rail line between Pensacola and Jacksonville to a regional railroad concern – RailUSA – in mid-2019. I am only speculating here, but since RailUSA is not a Class 1 railroad (the largest size), I am guessing they will never be able to afford to upgrade to positive train control, nor do they desire to. This is probably the biggest reason Amtrak won’t be seen through Pensacola any time soon. The only thing that would probably change that is the railroad, state and/or federal government dumping a ton of money on improving the line and upgrading to positive train control. I’m guessing that will never happen.

  26. J.E. McMillan on March 1st, 2021 9:43 am

    In regards to passenger train services along the Florida Gulf Coast, Amtrak has proven to be a disappointment almost from its arrival in 1993. In addition, Floridas own leadership has a history of hostility towards Passenger Rail.

  27. former passenger on March 1st, 2021 9:42 am

    Passenger service in the US is simply too slow for working age people that have jobs and children. Scheduled arrivals and departures are meaningless due to the delays that result from sharing the tracks with Freight. When Amtrak ran the Sunset Limited coast to coast prior to Katrina it took almost 6 hours to go from Downtown Pensacola to New Orleans. Another trip I took from Pensacola to Los Angeles arrived to Los Angeles 11 hours late, not bad when considering the trip is 2 and a half days long. I enjoyed those trips because I was 18 without a career, kids, and wife. Amtrak outside of the Northeast Corridor is only feasible for retirees and railroad fans. Here is the old Sunset Limited timetable from amtrak.com. https://history.amtrak.com/archives/i-sunset-limited-i-schedule

  28. Choooo Chooo on March 1st, 2021 9:13 am

    Ppl will not even ride a “free” city bus (when it was free for a promotion) …… much less a train

  29. Dave Walby on March 1st, 2021 9:06 am

    My wife and I would have loved to travel by rail from Pensacola. We don’t like to drive and trains have a lower footprint than planes.

  30. Rufus Lowgun on March 1st, 2021 9:01 am

    Some of my fondest childhood memories are taking the Amtrack train from Los Angeles to San Diego with my nana and brother to spend the day at the zoo and the museums in Balboa Park (also the giant carousel with an honst-to-God brass ring). I would feel very fortunate indeed if I could do something similar with my nine year old daughter and day trips to New Orleans. Can’t think how this is anything but good news.

  31. Ron Wilson on March 1st, 2021 8:28 am

    Back in the mid-eighties, my girlfriend and I took the train from Pensacola to NO. It was the most uncomfortable trip I ever took with the all noise, smells, stops, people and bad AC.

    We rented a car to come back which took a little over 3 hours compared the 9 hour trip on the hot smelly train.

  32. SueB on March 1st, 2021 8:18 am

    Amtrak never consulted Pensacola or asked residents. But Yes, it would be a great adventure, again.

  33. chris on March 1st, 2021 7:55 am

    “just not enough interest or need in this area.” Exactly. I’m fairly certain that when nationwide travelers look at a map, Atmore is not the place they choose.

  34. sam on March 1st, 2021 7:19 am

    just not enough interest or need in this area.





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