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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak again asks STB to order passenger-rail access to Gulf Coast freight tracks


Amtrak has again asked the Surface Transportation Board (STB) for an interim order requiring CSX and Norfolk Southern Railway to allow Amtrak trains access to the Class Is’ rail lines between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

Amtrak wants access to the freight-rail lines so that it can relaunch passenger-rail service along the Gulf Coast. Amtrak trains haven’t traveled along the coast since Hurricane Katrina hit the area in 2005.

Initially, Amtrak sought an interim order in March, but the STB ruled in August that the request was moot because Amtrak received the access it sought and the parties were working to reach agreement on the matter.

"Unfortunately, in certain areas, Amtrak is no longer receiving the access to CSX's rail lines that Amtrak seeks and CSX is no longer working with Amtrak to reach a suitable accommodation," Amtrak states in an Oct. 20 filing with the STB.

At issue now is Amtrak's request for access to survey CSX's Choctaw Yard as a site for a temporary layover track for the Gulf Coast service. Amtrak previously used a track at the yard to store trains on Amtrak’s Gulf Coast Limited and Gulf Breeze services.

However, in 2019 CSX removed the track from the yard and Amtrak is now seeking the Class I’s cooperation on a survey of the site for potential restoration of the track or to determine the options for an interim layover of the track, according to Amtrak’s filing.

Amtrak, CSX and NS have been at odds over some issues involving the passenger railroad’s interest in reestablishing service along the coast. Amtrak announced earlier this year that it wants to start serving the region in early 2022.

Amtrak's recent filing with the STB can be viewed here.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/22/2021