Governor Phil Bryant is coming to Bay St. Louis to board an Amtrak train, and if local leaders have their way, he’s just the first of thousands who will have that opportunity.
A special VIP Amtrak train will depart New Orleans on Thursday, February, making 13 stops over two days before it reaches Jacksonville, Florida. On board will be at least 60 VIPs, including the president of Amtrak. They’ll be considering restoring passenger service along the route as Amtrak considers restoration of passenger service.
The train’s first stop will be in Bay St. Louis. It is slated to be at town’s historic depot from 10:10am to 10:20am, when Mississippi’s governor will board.
Nikki Moon, president of the Hancock Tourism Development Bureau, calls the event a “once in a lifetime opportunity for the town.”
“All the decision-makers will be on board,” says Moon. “It’s crucial they understand how much we support the restoration of the passenger line.”
She also encourages local citizens to be at the depot or at any of the crossings as the train passes through town.
“Wave, jump up and down, bring a sign of welcome, or an American flag,” she says. “Nothing else should take priority the morning that train comes through. Restoration of that service represents an enormous positive change for Bay St. Louis. “
Moon points out that the train will allow easy access to the Bay for New Orleanians - and for visitors to the city who want to take a side trip. Also, coast residents will finally have transportation options to New Orleans and other destinations across the coast. Currently, there is no public transportation between New Orleans and the coast.
Historically, train service connecting the Bay and New Orleans made it possible for many city dwellers to have second homes on the coast. Business people commuted to work in the city by train. Often, entire families moved to the coast for the summer, with head of households commuting as well. Moon believes the time has come to revive that successful model of the past.
Several local groups are collaborating on plans to greet the train, including the office of the Mayor, the Old Town Merchants’ Association, the Bay St. Louis Rotary, Hancock County Tourism and the Hancock Chamber.
“We all understand how passenger train service would be a real game-changer,” says Moon. “Showing our enthusiasm and support is one way we can help make this a reality.”
The Amtrak Inspection Train Schedule