Spring Hill students from New Orleans are going to have a new option for traveling between school and home.
The Mobile City Council voted on Tuesday, Feb. 4 to support bringing back a passenger train running from New Orleans to Mobile. Amtrak, the railroad company to be used, once ran in Mobile prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
This service will not be immediate, however. Students and other locals along the Gulf Coast can expect to see progress of the new passenger train starting in 2022. They are planning to start in 2022 and end in 2024. The city of Mobile has a budget of spending no more than $3.048 million on expenses for the project.
Some students at Spring Hill are already looking forward to the new project. Sophomore, Ben Defour, stated, “As I currently go to school in Mobile and live in New Orleans, this new railroad line is important, in my opinion.” Although the train will not be here until a few more years, Defour goes on to say how it can benefit not just the students. “This would be clutch to anyone else who needs to get to Mobile from New Orleans.” There will be four stops in Mississippi that the train will make while in route. These stops include Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis.
The next step is for the Southern Rail Commission to receive grant funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation. If the Commission is granted, there are a few things that need to be checked on to make sure that Amtrak can safely make its runs. According to Mobile City Clerk, Lisa Lambert, during the three-year process, there will be a freight rail study to determine the effect that passenger travel will have on freight activity. Depending on its impact and the growth of the Port of Mobile, it may also be necessary to widen and deepen the Mobile ship channel.
Marc Magliari, with Amtrak Government Affairs & Corporate Communications said there still needs to be money for the building of the railroad, a decision on where the station should be and at least one platform to be built. Once all of this is determined, the City of Mobile can begin to provide the funds to match the grant which is not to exceed $3.048 million. Students and locals along the Gulf Coast should not hold their breath on this new decision as this will take some time. More information will be provided as requirements are met by the city.