MOBILE, Ala. — The long-awaited return of passenger service to the Gulf Coast will come in 2022, Amtrak officials tell the Mobile’s Press-Register. Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari has said the service between New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., could begin as early as next January.
“We have notified the railroads that we believe we can start the service. There is money set aside for capital improvements. There is money granted for the operating costs,” he said. “We also have asked the freight railroads to give us feedback on how practical that is for them. We remain open to talking to the freight railroads about their concerns.”
The Gulf Coast east of New Orleans last had passenger service in 2005. Hurricane Katrina heavily damaged the route east of there and while the rail line was rebuilt for freight service a year or so later, passenger service has never returned. The Southern Rail Commission, a Congressionally-created multi-state compact, has been pushing to resume service ever since. Amtrak has been working with the commission as well with the two freight railroads they will run over, Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation, for the last few years to get the effort off the ground.
Over the last few years, the effort has received millions of dollars in state and federal funding to help build up infrastructure for the service. The train will operate between New Orleans and Mobile with four stops in Mississippi: Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula.