Why is Alabama against passenger train travel through Mississippi?

Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Gov. Kay Ivey said Alabama will oppose an Amtrak plan to resume passenger train service between New Orleans and Mobile without a study of its potential impact.

While Amtrak asked federal regulators last month to force CSX and Norfolk Southern Railway to let passenger trains run on its track linking the two Gulf Coast cities, Ivey wrote the Surface Transportation Board saying Amtrak should be required to complete a study on the potential impact on freight traffic, WPMI-TV reported.

The northern Gulf Coast has been without passenger service since Hurricane Katrina badly damaged tracks and equipment in 2005. While Louisiana and Mississippi have supported a resumption, Ivey wrote that Alabama has withheld funding for new service for several years over concern that Amtrak trains would interfere with freight service at the Port of Mobile.

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A study would show what new infrastructure would be needed to support both passenger and freight service, plus future growth in freight movement through the port, Ivey said.

“Without a completed operational modeling study, Alabama will not commit to providing any financial support to new Gulf Coast passenger service,” she wrote.

Amtrak, which contends the issue has been studied enough, will respond directly to Ivey, said spokesman Marc Magliari.

In a separate decision that could affect travel in the region, the Federal Aviation Administration approved a plan to move Mobile’s passenger airport from a site west of downtown to a downtown location near Mobile Bay. The decision means a plan to develop a new terminal can move ahead at Mobile Downtown Airport, the Mobile Airport Authority said in a statement.

Passenger trains could stop at the new airport location if Amtrak is allowed to resume service, officials have said.