Mobile City Council Votes to Bring Back Amtrak Service
February 4, 2020
The Mobile City Council approved a resolution this morning to restore Amtrak service along the Gulf Coast, delighting a packed room of supporters who have worked for over a decade to bring train service back to the region.
Following the 6 to 1 vote in favor of the train led by Mayor Sandy Stimpson, Alabama will now join with Mississippi and Louisiana to help cover the operational costs of a twice-daily Amtrak service that will connect New Orleans, Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport, Bay St. Louis, and Mobile. The corridor has been without intercity passenger rail since Hurricane Katrina disrupted Amtrak service in 2005. Mobile's share will be just over $3 million spread across three years, with Louisiana providing $10 million and Mississippi $18 million across the same period.
Conservative estimates predict the new service will add $19 million each year to Alabama’s economy, bringing more than $170 million in new jobs, tourist dollars, and other economic benefits to Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana in total.
“This vote for passenger rail is a huge win for communities in Alabama and along the Gulf Coast,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews. “It wouldn’t have happened without the work of our members, the Southern Rail Commission, Transportation for America, Amtrak, and forward-looking elected officials in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. We can’t thank these people enough, and we’re ready to get to work to get this train up and running."
The Council’s approval is contingent upon a freight rail impact study that will verify that the new passenger service won’t hinder freight operations in and out of the Port of Mobile.
[Rail Passengers will update this story as more information becomes available.]
UPDATE - Feb. 5th, 2:00PM - Statement from Alabma Governor Kay Ivey:
“I commend Mayor Stimpson for his leadership in helping get this issue addressed in a thorough and prudent way.
“We’ve never been opposed to seeing passenger service return to Mobile; it’s been more of a methodical, fact-finding mission to get the facts before a final decision could be made. As the mayor outlined in his letter to City Council President Manzie, the Stimpson Administration is recommending moving forward contingent upon certain terms that will help everyone – including the Port of Mobile – understand what is at stake here.
“The State of Alabama – as a strong partner to the growth of Mobile and South Alabama – looks forward to seeing the results from the freight rail study, its evaluation on the impact of how freight is moved and its operability within the Port of Mobile. It will also be good for us to know what Mobile County may or may not choose to do from a financial standpoint.”
About the 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.
"Thank you to Jim Mathews and the Rail Passengers Association for presenting me with this prestigious award. I am always looking at ways to work with the railroads and rail advocates to improve the passenger experience."
Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3)
February 14, 2020, on receiving the Association's Golden Spike Award