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Amtrak has sent a team to assess the remaining work underway on stations along its route from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans to ensure the line is ready for passenger-rail service to start in 2022, according to a Southern Rail Commission news release.
At the recent quarterly commission meeting, Amtrak Vice President of Stations and Accessibility David Handera said the railroad will work with the cities on a phased approach to initially modify the existing platforms and complete all needed route repairs. Amtrak plans to pay for the repairs, subject to Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approval, and construct new accessible and ADA-complaint platforms in the second phase of work, he said.
"We are working with FRA on assembling funding sources for short-term and long-term repairs, and will work collaboratively with the cities to redirect current grant funds towards other station upgrades that improve the path of travel to the station, such as accessible parking, lighting other depot amenities,” Handera said.
Amtrak confirmed in February that it has notified freight railroads of its intent to begin service along the Gulf Coast between Mobile and New Orleans in 2022, marking the return of passenger trains that have not operated in the region since Hurricane Katrina damaged rail infrastructure there in 2005.