Meeting explores prospects for passenger route linking Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth

Government officials, Amtrak, Canadian Pacific among those at session in Monroe, La.

By News & Reviews

MONROE, La. — Officials and other interested parties from Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Alabama met Thursday in Monroe to discuss funding efforts needed to launch service I-20 Corridor Passenger Rail Service, a proposal for an Amtrak route linking Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth, as well as existing Texas Eagle, City of New Orleans, and Crescent operations, by splitting the Crescent at Meridian, Miss.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Monroe Mayor Friday Ellis hosted the meeting in partnership with the Southern Rail Commission and Transportation for America. Attendees U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith (both R-Miss.); other elected officials, and representatives of the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, and Canadian Pacific. CP has indicated it is open to passenger operations on the joint Kansas City Southern-Norfolk Southern Meridian Speedway between Meridian and Shreveport, La., if the CP-KCS merger is approved.

“Today’s event reflects an incredibly exciting time for passenger rail service,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose. “Today also reflects the strong collaboration and success of the SRC and its partners, providing an example of what we would like to see happen across the country. The I-20 Corridor has tremendous potential, and the FRA is eager to continue working with state and local leaders in planning and pursuing funding for passenger rail service.”

Cassidy, in a press release, cited a 2017 study that said less than $80 million would be required to prepare the route in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and notes that the Louisiana legislature has already appropriated $10 million for an extension of long-distance Amtrak service in Northern Louisiana.

New passenger funding under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enhances the possibility of launching service on the route, as Southern Rail Commission Chairman Knox Ross noted: ““With funding available, an agreeable freight [railroad], and strong leadership at the state, local, and national level, we are confident that this project will soon be underway.”