April 20, 2022 - TRA Newswire -

Executives of Amtrak, Canadian Pacific and KCS along with federal, Louisiana state and local officials took an inspection tour of the Kansas City Southern Railway line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans today, in advance of regular passenger rail service to start up in the future.

@AmtrakConnects tweeted earlier today "We're live from Baton Rouge, LA where we're working with our partners @LA_DOTD, Kansas City Southern, @CanadianPacific and @USDOTFRA to launch Amtrak service between LA's two largest cities."

Another tweet later included photos when the train paused in Gonzales, Louisiana, which will be a station stop on the line. 

Officials used the Kansas City Southern business train to make the journey. 

Aboard the 80-some mile train ride was Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, state Secretary of Transportation and Development Dr. Shawn Wilson, FRA Administrator Amit Bose, along with the CEO's of Amtrak, Kansas City Southern. Canadian Pacific Railway and members of the Southern Rail Commission.   

Governor Edwards said this rail line is a priority for his administration. "It was only a few weeks ago that we made a request for an inspection train so we could further discuss this concept. The fact it was put together so quickly and that all of the principals are here speaks volumes of their commitment to establishing passenger rail. I am extremely encouraged."

Edwards said that people had been talking about running trains between Louisiana's two largest cities for years "The desire has always been there, we just didn't have the means, " according the the governor. "The Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act does provide the means." 

The Federal Railroad Administration competitive grant program could help pay for a majority of the cost for the service. $33 billion to be available in FRA grant funding would require a 20% local-state match. A previous study in 2014 determined that upgrades required for the line would cost around $300 million.

Future service will also include a stop at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. 

The governor said his administration is also looking at passenger service across Northern Louisiana. "The CP-KCS merger, if approved later this year, will bring additional opportunities for passenger rail with Amtrak service to connect Dallas to Atlanta, Washington and New York." An extension of Amtrak's Crescent service from New Orleans to the East Coast would mean a section of the train would run from Dallas-Fort Worth with stops in East Texas and Northern Louisiana before joining the service at Meridian, Mississippi to continue eastward. It would allow for next-day service to the East Coast, now a two day journey through Chicago. 

Shreveport and other northern Louisiana cities would regain passenger service that ended more than half a century ago. 

The Governor also said that restoring train service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama would be great for the economy.

See video of Governor in this link: https://www.wwno.org/news/2022-04-20/in-promoting-new-orleans-to-baton-rouge-passenger-train-gov-john-bel-edwards-takes-a-ride

Photo credit: AmtrakConnectsUS/twitter