Steps taken toward first expansion of passenger rail in decades

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Amtrak and SRC submit a planning grant that will expand long-distance passenger rail service along the I-20 Corridor and in the Deep South.

Today, the Southern Rail Commission and Amtrak announced their application for a Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant from the Federal Railroad Administration for the I-20 Corridor—the first concrete steps to expand long-distance passenger rail service in decades. This grant would fund planning efforts for a new passenger rail service from Fort Worth, TX, across Mississippi and Louisiana, to Atlanta, GA, and is a critical step in bringing connectivity to communities along the route. 

“This route will be one more arrow in the economic quiver for small and midsize communities across the Deep South,” said Beth Osborne, Director of Transportation for America. “We thank Amtrak for their leadership in moving this expansion forward, and we applaud Canadian Pacific for setting an example by serving as a willing and strong partner throughout this process. We look forward to seeing the completion of this route, which has been a long time coming, and hope for similar results in the greater Northwest and Mid-Atlantic, as well as all other underserved parts of the country.”

The I-20 Corridor has been previously studied twice for passenger rail and was determined to be an excellent candidate. The corridor includes numerous underserved and historically disadvantaged communities that will benefit from better transportation options. The rail line would link communities along the route to universities and larger cities, opening the door to attracting a bright young workforce, increasing economic opportunity, and bringing a sense of place to their downtowns. Amtrak’s decision to move forward with plans for the expansion comes before the FRA’s long-distance rail study, which was mandated under the 2021 infrastructure law, demonstrating tremendous initiative to move the project forward.

Partnerships between freight companies and passenger rail providers have been pivotal in moving this expansion along. Freight railroad Canadian Pacific acquired the route from KC Southern, and they’ve proven to be a willing and supportive partner to passenger rail. They will work to implement service for at least one round trip per year within two years, and two round trips within four years.

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