First steps toward Baton Rouge commuter rail

While it is still three to five years away from becoming reality, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards is seeking matching federal funds to put into motion a plan to build out a commuter rail corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. According to a report in the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, funds allocated this week by the Southern Rail Commission to repair and build new Amtrak stations in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana also includes funding for the design of a new passenger terminal in Baton Rouge. While Lousiana is facing a substantial budget shortfall, the governor is actively seeking funding for the proposed new terminal from state and federal sources.

The last regular passenger service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge operated in 1969. Governor Bobby Jindal blocked federal funds to create a commuter route during his term in office, a move the current governor regrets. Plans revealed by the Louisiana Super Region Rail Authority in 2014 call for a service on existing tracks at a top speed of 79 m.p.h. It is estimated that the project would cost up to $260 million to build out, and require nearly $7 million in annual subsidies.

—Passenger Train Journal

This article was posted on: December 26, 2016