BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - With the prospect of Amtrak passenger train service returning to South Mississippi, coast leaders have big plans to welcome Amtrak officials when they roll through on a tour Thursday.
If a proposal to revive Amtrak's old Sunset Limited route comes to fruition, Biloxi thinks it's in a good position to take advantage of the city's downtown transit center.
"We built this center with Coast Transit hoping this day would arrive with Amtrak coming back. We're hopeful that day has arrived," said Vincent Creel with the city of Biloxi.
Thursday morning, Amtrak officials, including the President of the federally subsidized passenger rail service, will take a tour on what's called an inspection train to gauge the interest and viability of following through on a study that suggests an Amtrak route connecting Florida to New Orleans would be a strong concept. Biloxi plans to roll out the red carpet.
"We're going to have restaurants out here on Thursday starting at 10:45. We're hoping people come out and have lunch. They can enjoy a jazz band and secondliners. It'll be real festive when the head of Amtrak steps off that train Thursday morning at 11:21 right here in Biloxi," Creel said.
And it won't just be happening in Biloxi. Cities all along the coast are getting on board with the idea to bring Amtrak passenger service to South Mississippi. The train will make stops in Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi, and then on to Pascagoula to end its tour of South Mississippi. Cities plan to hold pep rallies with food, marching bands and more.
Amtrak is considering a couple of proposals. One would establish a route from Mobile to New Orleans. A more elaborate plan would connect Louisiana to Florida with coastal Mississippi stops along the way.