After more than five years of data-driven and federally led studies, Amtrak initiated a process before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) in 2021 to require CSX and NS to permit the operation of two daily Amtrak trains between New Orleans and Mobile. Under STB procedures, CSX and NS will be required to provide Amtrak access to their railroads for this service or prove to the public why they cannot successfully host these trains in accordance with the law.

Amtrak, CSX, NS, SRC and others began work on returning service to the Gulf Coast in 2015, producing an FRA Gulf Coast Working Group plan in 2017 that laid out the necessary steps to beginning Amtrak service on the route and laying out potential improvements, many of which have been funded since 2019. Prior to service start, a station track at Mobile would need to be built and repairs made at stations, projects Amtrak has been pursuing during recent months.

Amtrak has a legal right to use this route, which has sufficient capacity to host these trains and up to $66 million in targeted improvements has been granted to support the new intercity passenger rail service along this line. These potential investments have been reviewed, approved and funded by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Amtrak and others.

The following materials provide more information on Amtrak’s goal to provide passenger rail service to the Gulf Coast.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) held a Public Hearing on February 15 & 16, 2022, regarding CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads blocking Amtrak from operating passenger trains between Mobile and New Orleans, an important service that has been discussed and studied for many years.

Among those presenting was Amtrak President & CEO Stephen Gardner. A copy of his written testimony can be found here.

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The following is a written statement from Administrator Amitabha Bose on behalf of the U.S. DOT and FRA before the Surface Transportation Board on Restoration of Gulf Coast Passenger Rail Service: “We appreciate the Board’s consideration of Amtrak’s application to re-start passenger service along the Gulf Coast by adding two daily round-trip trains between Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans.  In DOT’s view, the Board’s decision here will have far-reaching implications beyond the Gulf Coast.  The outcome of this proceeding will be pivotal to the future development of intercity passenger rail in this country.”

A copy of his testimony can be found here.