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12 cities in 8 Southern states could gain train service as part of $2.5 trillion infrastructure package
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — As the Biden administration tries to cobble together political support for its massive $2.5 trillion infrastructure program, Amtrak has announced that it plans to use its share of the money to expand its national rail network, including significant additions across the South.
In a plan unveiled April 1, Amtrak said it would add service to 12 Southern cities, as well as enhancing existing service in Texas, Florida and the corridor between Birmingham, Atlanta and Charlotte.
Kentucky — the only state east of the Mississippi River currently without any Amtrak service — will finally be connected to the national network with a rail link between Louisville and Indianapolis.
The Bluegrass State is the home of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who has said no one in his caucus is likely to vote for the infrastructure package the contains the additional Amtrak funding.
Plans also call for a new line to run from Nashville to Savannah, which will extend service to Chattanooga and Macon, Georgia.
Service would also be restored between Mobile and New Orleans, which has been suspended since 2005 because of damage to rail lines from Hurricane Katrina. A new route would connect Baton Rouge to New Orleans.
Currently, Amtrak’s service coming north out of Texas stops at Oklahoma City. That line would be extended to Wichita, Kansas, providing more direct rail links from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest.
Dallas and Houston would also be connected by a direct route, which would bring service to College Station.
In Alabama, Auburn and Montgomery would be connected to Atlanta, while in North Carolina, both Asheville and Wilmington would pick up service. Rail would also be extended further west from Roanoke to Christiansburg, Virginia.
In all, Amtrak would be expanding service in all but three Southern states — Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia — which could become an administration talking point as it tries to sell the infrastructure plan to reluctant Southern Republicans.