Plans to restore Panhandle Amtrak service advance (REPORT)

December 17, 2015

After a decade without passenger rail access, the service could be returning to the Florida Panhandle within the next five years.

By KATIE LANDECK, Panama City News Herald Reporter

Posted Dec. 16, 2015 at 6:20 PM
Updated at 6:23 PM

PANAMA CITY — After a decade without passenger rail access, the service could be returning to the Florida Panhandle within the next five years.Website Insert Cars and Financing copy

“It’s realistic,” Gregory White, chairman of the Southern Rail Commission, said Wednesday. “And we’re excited about it.”

The commission, which covers Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Georgia, is currently in talks with Amtrak about starting a daily service that runs from Orlando to New Orleans, as well as supplemental service that runs from Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans, according to White.

The plan is still in its early stages, as a provider such as Amtra would need to be selected. Negotiations with CSX, the company that owns the existing freight tracks the service would use, also need to begin and financing must be arranged.

However, White said he is “confident” a passenger train will be operational within the next three to five years.

“We have an unprecedented amount of support from elected officials and partners from all over the Gulf Coast region,” White said.

On Monday, Amtrak and the commission released a report outlining five different business proposals for the passenger rail service. The most likely one would extend Amtrak’s City of New Orleans passenger train, a route that currently stretches from New Orleans to Chicago and includes stops in Jackson, Miss., and Memphis, Tenn.

The plan, according to the study, likely would generate an annual ridership of 138,300 passengers and cost about $5.48 million to operate.

Click here to read the full story from the Panama City News Herald.

Previous post:

Next post: