Restoration of Gulf Coast passenger rail service

Passenger rail service restoration could be possible in the future for the Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast Rail Service Working Group was established by the FAST Act in December 2015 to evaluate the restoration of rail passenger service between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Orlando, Florida. The previously-existing passenger rail service was stopped prior to Hurricane Katrina. Damage to the route has been repaired and freight service was restored, but the passenger rail service has not been restored. The group evaluating the possible restoration of passenger rail service includes members from the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, CSX, Southern Rail Commission, West Florida Regional Planning Council, and other stakeholders along the Gulf Coast. The group has been convening to discuss details for the possible restoration, including funding and prioritization of actions to be taken should the restoration be approved. The result of these meetings will be a full report submitted by the group to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, and the committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives.

The Gulf Coast Rail Service Working Group encourages community input regarding the project. Senator Bill Nelson is a ranking member of the Senate Committee that will review the final report provided by the Gulf Coast Rail Service Working Group. Community members may send an email stating their position on the project to one of the following contacts at Senator Bill Nelson’s office by the end of the year:

Devon Barnhart – Devon_Barnhart@commerce.senate.gov

Mary Louise Hester – marylouise_hester@billnelson.senate.gov

For more information, contact West Florida Regional Planning Council Planner, Vikki Garrett, at 850-332-7976, Ext. 211 or vikki.garrett@wfrpc.org.

Public participation is solicited without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, or family status. Reasonable accommodation will be made for access to meetings in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Contact Title VI Coordinator, 850-332-7976, Ext. 220 or TitleVI@wfrpc.org, for information or accommodation assistance. Por favor a la Sr. Dan Deanda, de los requistos de acceso o el idioma en el 850-332-7976 x 227 o 800-995-8771 para TTY-Florida al menos 48 horas de antelacion. 

The West Florida Regional Planning Council is a regional entity providing professional technical assistance, planning, coordinating, and advisory services to local governments, state and federal agencies, and the public to preserve and enhance quality of life in northwest Florida. For more information, visit www.wfrpc.org.