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Amtrak late last week filed with the Surface Transportation Board a supplemental brief and evidence in the railroad’s quest to relaunch passenger-rail service along the Gulf Coast.
The STB on May 12 asked Amtrak to provide additional information about its proposal to begin serving the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, an area that has been without Amtrak service since Hurricane Katrina struck the region in 2005. CSX and Norfolk Southern Railway, which own the tracks on which Amtrak trains would operate, oppose Amtrak’s proposal unless the intercity passenger railroad makes significant infrastructure investments.
Amtrak has asked the STB to require CSX and NS to allow passenger trains to operate on the line. Alabama Port Authority officials also have said Amtrak’s return to the Gulf Coast would have a negative economic impact on Port of Mobile operations.
In its latest filing with the STB, Amtrak says that its additional evidence confirms that the Gulf Coast service does not "unreasonably impair" CSX's and NS's freight transportation and that the Class Is' infrastructure demands are unsupported. Their and the port’s predictions about what would happen if Amtrak offers two round-trip trains are "greatly exaggerated."
Amtrak also claims that Gulf Coast service can be restored without the level of capital investment that CSX, NS and the port are seeking, and that any impact from Amtrak service can be mitigated with routine operational changes and cooperative service planning.
To read Amtrak’s filing in its entirety, click here.