Amtrak and Southern Rail Commission Representatives meet with local leaders to discuss I-20 corridor passenger rail project


The Southern Rail Commission and Amtrak will meet with local leaders along the I-20 corridor today and tomorrow to highlight the application for funding for passenger rail service through North Louisiana. Southern Rail Commission Chairman Knox Ross says the goal is to get the federal railroad administration to fund all phases of it.

“This gets us to the point that we know what infrastructure has to be put into place. Rail infrastructure. What station infrastructure has to be put into place. Those sorts of things.”

The passenger rail service will run from Meridian, MS to Dallas/Fort Worth. Canadian Pacific merged with Kansas City Southern, which shares ownership of the tracks between Meridian and Dallas/Fort Worth with Norfolk Southern. Ross says Canadian Pacific has contributed to the progression of the Gulf Coast passenger rail service.

“Candian Pacific has been an excellent partner of Amtrak. And they agreed to work with us to make this service a reality. And instead of it sort of always being in the talking phase, we’re moving to the doing phase.” 

Amtrak and its partners have explored this idea for more than 20 years, but last year’s Congressional passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now creates new opportunities to study possible expanded long-distance Amtrak service. Ross believes the question is no longer “if”, but when.

“We will know what needs to be done. We don’t believe there’s a tremendous amount of work that has to be done cause that railroad is in really good shape. So this is something that could happen two years, three years, four years from now.”

If the study is funded by FRA and it produces a sufficient business case for a direct connection, Amtrak would partner with the SRC and others to seek capital to initiate the service.

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