Passenger rail service proposed from New Orleans to Mobile with stops on the Coast
By Hugh Keeton| February 23, 2018 at 2:49 AM CST - Updated August 14 at 6:45 AM
BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX)
The Bay St. Louis City Council is showing support for a new proposal to bring back passenger rail service to the Coast.
In a letter addressed to Governor Phil Bryant from Coast lawmakers, the plan calls for Amtrak service to be added from New Orleans to Mobile with stops in Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi and Pascagoula. This proposal does not offer service to Jacksonville, FL.
Knox Ross with the Southern Rail Commission said the shorter route gives passenger rail service a better chance of becoming a reality sooner.
"Much of the track between Mobile and New Orleans already has positive train control, which has been in the news a lot lately and it's signaled correctly," said Ross. "It's in great physical condition and they [CSX] have indicated to us that this would be a much more preferable option for them as well."
The latest plan calls for $19.7 million in BP settlement money to match federal funds for the passenger rail service to be restored for the route in South Mississippi.
The letter to the Governor also lays out a plan for the state to purchase train sets. It says the maker of those trains has promised to put a maintenance facility in Mississippi, which would possibly create 95 jobs.
Concerning the plan, a statement from the City of Biloxi said:
"Mayor "FoFo" Gilich has been a consistent proponent of passenger rail service and likes this Mobile-to-New Orleans concept, the city has $75 million in requests for Restore Act funding for proposals along Point Cadet and Back Bay. These proposals would create jobs, enhance waterfront engagement and create new revenue for the city and state. One of the mayor's considerations is would this rail proposal jeopardize or diminish funding for those important projects."