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Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) will jointly apply for federal funds to study a proposed extension of a passenger-rail route across Mississippi and Louisiana to Texas along Interstate 20.
Extending Amtrak’s Crescent train service has been under consideration for more than 20 years. But the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021 created the opportunity to study expanded long-distance service, Amtrak and SRC officials said in a press release.
Amtrak Network Development Vice President Nicole Bucich announced the decision to partner with the SRC to apply for the planning funds at the commission’s quarterly meeting held March 10 in New Orleans.
If the study is funded under the Federal Railroad Administration's Federal-State Partnership For Intercity Passenger-Rail Grant Program and if it produces a sufficient business case for a direct connection between the Northeast Corridor and fast-growing areas in the South and West, Amtrak would partner with the SRC and others to seek federal capital and operating support to initiate the service, they said.
Amtrak set the stage for such a study in an agreement with Canadian Pacific, which has acquired the route subject to Surface Transportation Board approval. Among other parties would be Norfolk Southern Railway, which shares ownership of the line with Kansas City Southern. Amtrak has endorsed CP’s merger with KCS.
The Amtrak agreement with CP announced early last year also provides for future service on a route owned by KCS between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, another SRC priority, Amtrak officials said.