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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

STB wants Amtrak Gulf Coast status update by March 15


Amtrak, two Class Is and other parties involved in a proposal to launch Gulf Coast passenger-rail service have until March 15 to submit a joint status report to the Surface Transportation Board.

Issued yesterday, the STB's decision relates to a Feb. 14 hearing at which the board wanted to know when Amtrak's Gulf Coast service would begin. Besides Amtrak, the parties involved in the proposed service are CSX, Norfolk Southern Railway, the Alabama State Port Authority and its Terminal Railway Alabama State Docks.

The case before the STB dates to March 2021, when Amtrak petitioned the board to force CSX and NS to allow the passenger railroad to run trains on the Class Is' track along the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Mobile. Amtrak service has been unavailable in the area since Hurricane Katrina swept through in 2005.

In its original petition, Amtrak said it had the legal right to run trains on the route. But Amtrak and two Class Is disputed who was responsible for various infrastructure costs and whether Amtrak's use of the line would interfere with freight-rail service, including to and from the Port of Mobile. The STB encouraged the parties to find a solution on their own, and by November 2022 they announced a settlement.

In September 2023, the Federal Railroad Administration announced a $178.4 million grant to help fund the costs involved in restoring the Amtrak service.

On Feb. 14, the STB held a hearing to find out the status of the service, including when it would begin. The parties said they're still working out certain details. In its decision announced yesterday, the STB ordered the parties to file a status report by March 15 that addresses the issues raised during the hearing. After receiving that report, the STB will determine further steps.

To read the board's Feb. 26 decision, click here


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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