Sorry, Allison was in a hurry; here it is:
All aboard: Rail service could be returning to Gulf Coast Karl Etters
, Democrat staff writer
3:20 p.m. EST December 31, 2015
(Photo: Democrat files)
Imagine hopping on a train in downtown Tallahassee to spend a weekend in New
Orleans' French Quarter, then coming back, twisting through the rural charm
of the Gulf Coast.
More than a decade has passed since thundering passenger locomotives stopped
in Tallahassee or anywhere else east of New Orleans.
But that could all change as the Southern Rail Commission looks to restore
rail service from the Big Easy to Orlando, which would include a stop in the
This year, the SRC asked Amtrak to evaluate options for bringing train
service back. The popular Gulf Coast Limited rail line closed in 2005 in the
wake of destruction of miles of tracks in Hurricane Katrina.
The Amtrak report looks at three possibilities of restoring the rail line,
all with stops in Tallahassee.
One would be a daily trip from New Orleans to Orlando with 16 stops along
the way. Another would extend the New Orleans line to two daily trips
between Mobile where passengers would change trains on their way to Florida.
The third would be an overnight trip from New Orleans to Orlando.
The Amtrak report estimates that reestablishing the Gulf Coast line could
produce an annual ridership between 38,000 for a ride from New Orleans to
Mobile to one as large as 153,900 for a round trip to Orlando that stops in
Mobile. The cost of re-establishing the route ranges from $6.97 million to
$14.4 million. Funding sources would include local, state and federal
Several options for returning passenger rail service
Several options for returning passenger rail service east of New Orleans
have been proposed by Amtrak
(Photo: Southern Rail Commission)
The Gulf rail lines are owned by CXS Transportation and were leased by
Amtrak for passenger rail.
Mayors and government officials all along the line have shown support in
returning rail service to their towns.
Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox sat on the Amtrak Mayor's
Advisory Council when he was mayor from 1996 to 2003.
He is in favor of restoring the North Florida rail service, as long as it
picks up at the Railroad Avenue station at a more agreeable time.
"The old service picked up around 2 a.m.," Maddox said with a laugh. "I
think it's a real possibility and something I hope comes to fruition."
Part of what Amtrak is looking at is whether cities that once had rail
service are still equipped to handle the influx of passengers and the
returning economy that comes with them.
In this 2002 file photo, four-year-old Reagor Wagnon
In this 2002 file photo, four-year-old Reagor Wagnon watches his train leave
from the Tallahassee Amtrak station heading for Jacksonville on Wednesday.
Wagnon's grandparents, Jerry and Barbara Wagnon, brought him all the way to
Tallahassee from Houston, TX along with three other grandchildren, just to
ride on Amtrak in case it is closed down in the future.
(Photo: Democrat files)
Maddox, along with former mayor John Marks, who was a proponent of bringing
the service back during his tenure, recently met with the rail company to
discuss that viability.
"They (Amtrak) were very optimistic," Maddox said. "They were especially
impressed with the redevelopment that had already occurred around our
Leon County has taken on maintaining the station itself, has installed its
small business incubator DOMI Station and other offices in the complex.
That combined with redevelopment of Gaines Street and FAMU Way, as well as
burgeoning businesses and hoteliers all within a mile of the station,
creates an attractive location to reboot the rail service.
"Now all we need is the train," Maddox said.
The rich culture of Mardi Gras, theme parks, riverboat and gambling hubs,
access to professional and college sports teams, NCAA football bowl games
and cruise ports along the rail route are a huge draw for visitors to the
Restored service could again open alternative transportation to Gulf
activities, but could also give riders access to the transcontinental Sunset
Limited line that runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles, Silver Star lines
that run up the Eastern Seaboard or any number of other established
continental rail lines.
The SRC and mayors from cities in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana met in
Mobile in early December to discuss the Amtrak report.
While Florida is not officially a part of the three-state commission, mayors
in towns dotting the Sunshine State have shown their support in bringing the
Gulf Coast Limited back.
Adding Florida to the SRC would require the action of the state Legislature.
Maddox said he will bring the issue before the Tallahassee City Commission
in January to include it in its annual legislative agenda. No formal action
is needed except to stand in support of the rail line reopening.
"Transportation is key to our economic development whether it be by air or
by rail," he said. "So leisure travel where people are visiting Tallahassee
for fun or other reasons will only be increased."
Contact Karl Etters at ketters@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or
From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf
Of Robert Miller
Sent: Sunday, January 03, 2016 8:13 AM
Subject: [tabi] Re: All aboard: Rail service could return to Gulf Coast
unfortunately no one can read tdo links unless they have a subscription.
From: Allie and Chip Orange <mailto:acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, January 2, 2016 10:49 AM
Subject: [tabi] All aboard: Rail service could return to Gulf Coast