Slow but steady is the name of the game with the new Amtrak passenger trains. Updates are trickling in, but we know one thing for sure — the trains are going to bring a lot of change to Hancock County.
- by Nikki Moon
The recent meeting of the Southern Rail Commission addressed the future of passenger rail service – not only on the coast, but also along the I-20 corridor. The route from New Orleans has been in the works for several years and now that test runs are well underway, the SRC has set its sights on additional routes. The hope is to eventually connect Dallas to Atlanta via passenger trains, and plans are in the making.
SRC Chairman, Knox Ross said, “Now that we have a way forward for new state-sponsored corridor service between New Orleans and Mobile, the I-20 route has been identified by the SRC as its next priority.”
The SRC brings together federal, state, and local government officials and individuals within the private sector to discuss potential rail service. The Commission identifies potential routes and conceptualizes the feasibility of these projects by weighing the benefits against the challenges. Current proposed routes include: Baton Rouge to New Orleans, Dallas to Meridian, and Shreveport to New Orleans.
One of the big topics at this meeting was safety. The SRC met with the police chiefs and emergency management teams across the coast to address safety protocols and procedures. There is a lot of concern around people trying to beat the trains and going around the track barriers and people walking along the tracks. These trains will run at 79 MPH!
While we still don’t have a start date for the New Orleans to Mobile run, nor the exact times of the twice a day-seven day a week service, we know its coming and that is the best news ever.
Think of what it will do for us along the coast. Passenger train service will make our cities more livable, especially with the updates in our depot and the surrounding area in downtown Bay St. Louis. Trains will increase our visitor traffic, driving new economic development and bringing in more tax dollars. It attracts business travelers working in our industries along the coast, not only for the convenience, but also for the novelty. It will definitely bring some of the 700,000 annual international visitors to New Orleans over to the Bay – they are used to traveling by train and love it!
In a few words – it is a game changer.
More to follow after the June 9th meeting of the Commission.
See the attached press release for full details below.
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