Rail Passengers Backs Amtrak's STB Filing on Gulf Coast Rail
March 16, 2021
The Rail Passengers Association fully supports today’s decision by Amtrak to ask the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to speed the restoration of passenger service to the Gulf Coast.
For Immediate Release (21-02)
Contact: Sean Jeans-Gail (202) 320-2723; [email protected]
Washington, D.C. — The Rail Passengers Association fully supports today’s decision by Amtrak to ask the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to speed the restoration of passenger service to the Gulf Coast. It is the next logical step in a process that has been slowed at every opportunity by CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern and others; this obstructionism will deny Alabama’s residents some $6 million in economic benefits from building and launching the new service, and anywhere from $12 million to as much as $220 million in benefits every single year to Alabama’s economy. We trust the STB will inject much needed transparency in the effort to restore a vital transportation link for the 2 million residents of the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama—severed since Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in 2005.
“People all over this country are pleading for more passenger train service as an alternative to congested highways and overcrowded airports,” said Jim Mathews, Rail Passengers President & CEO. “If a freight railroad can draw out the process to restore passenger train service along a single corridor for longer than a decade, then there is little hope for passenger rail projects anywhere in the U.S. This lack of access will leave Americans permanently stuck using a second-class transportation system. We join with the Southern Rail Commission, Transportation for America and Amtrak in asking the STB to bring this access negotiation to a speedy and fair resolution.”
“The overriding principle at play is Amtrak’s legal right to access freight railroad track structure for a fair and reasonable cost,” Mathews continued. “CSX has said it will take $2 billion to accommodate a single train every 12 hours; that is not reasonable, and it is not fair.”
Despite breathless claims that adding Amtrak service would somehow paralyze rail operations at the Port of Alabama, CSX has offered no concrete details on how precisely a single train, spending perhaps a minute or two transiting to park for several hours on a siding off the main line, can possibly bring freight traffic to a halt.
Mathews notes that NASA was able to send a rover 150 million miles from Earth to Mars for the same amount of money that CSX is asking to accommodate a single train 140 miles from New Orleans to Mobile.
“Amtrak’s decision to go to the STB will allow us to see what the true costs of restoring this service will be.”
Rail Passengers is already organizing our members along the Gulf Coast to ensure that elected officials in the region understand the deep reservoir of local support for this project.
About Rail Passengers Association
The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization serving as a voice for the more than 40 million rail passengers in the U.S. Our mission is to improve and expand conventional intercity and regional passenger train services, support higher speed rail initiatives, increase connectivity among all forms of transportation and ensure safety for our country's trains and passengers. All of this makes communities safer, more accessible and more productive, improving the lives of everyone who lives, works and plays in towns all across America.
"The National Association of Railroad Passengers has done yeoman work over the years and in fact if it weren’t for NARP, I'd be surprised if Amtrak were still in possession of as a large a network as they have. So they've done good work, they're very good on the factual case."
Robert Gallamore, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University and former Federal Railroad Administration official, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University
November 17, 2005, on The Leonard Lopate Show (with guest host Chris Bannon), WNYC New York.