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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak crews to begin training for future Gulf Coast route

The Gulf Coast region has been without Amtrak service since Hurricane Katrina destroyed rail infrastructure there in 2005.
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Amtrak train crews this week will begin required training for future operation of its new Gulf Coast passenger-rail service between Mobile, Alabama, and New Orleans.

The crews will make "familiarization trips" to learn the physical characteristics of the Gulf Coast route. The service will begin this year, although a date has not yet been announced.

Also this week, Amtrak and members of the Southern Rail Commission and Gulf Regional Planning Commission will begin a public education campaign with Operation Lifesaver Inc. to raise public awareness of Amtrak trains that will travel through grade crossings.

Amtrak trains have not operated along the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina damaged track there in 2005. In November 2022, Amtrak notified the Surface Transportation Board that it reached a settlement agreement with CSX, Norfolk Southern Railway and the Alabama State Port Authority over Amtrak’s proposal to restore passenger-rail service along the coast.

Details of the settlement have not been released. The agreement followed months of mediation talks over Amtrak’s plan to restore service on the route, which will use tracks owned by CSX and NS. The Class Is, and later, the port authority, initially objected to Amtrak's plan to restore service unless certain conditions were met. Amtrak then asked the STB to require the freight railroads to allow passenger trains to use the route.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/6/2023