Amtrak has filed for a taxpayer-funded federal grant to study a potential extended line of service from New York City to Dallas/Fort Worth.
The passenger railway company announced on March 10 that it has partnered with the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) on the project to test the extension of its Crescent train from across Mississippi and Louisiana to Texas along I-20.
The Crescent currently runs between New York City and New Orleans via Atlanta.
While Amtrak currently has several stations in Texas, most routes in North Texas average only one train per day. Tracks in the southern portion of the state average around three per day.
Amtrak said in its release that train operators have been contemplating this new line for over two decades. Yet it wasn’t entirely feasible until the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021.
This act provides federal funds to expand passenger rail service and make it safer, as well as other projects related to freight rail, public transit, and water infrastructure.
“This has the potential to be the first new Amtrak service of its kind in more than 25 years and it would come in an area that has long been underserved by passenger rail,” said Knox Ross, SRC chairman, in the release. “Now that we have a way forward for new state-sponsored corridor service between New Orleans and Mobile, the I-20 route has been identified by the SRC as its next priority.”
This new track would also provide service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to NBC 5 DFW.
Amtrak and SRC cannot get the ball rolling on the new Crescent expansion without first determining whether it is even possible.
Nicole Bucich, Amtrak’s vice president for network development, explained in the release, “Amtrak will work with our partners to seek the funds needed to study expansion and improvement options where strong stakeholder support exists and initial analysis show opportunity.”
Bucich described the application as “the first step in determining the feasibility of this concept and the benefits and challenges, including federal funding commitments, of expanding Amtrak service to the I-20 route.”
U.S. Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have both expressed their support for the extension, citing benefits for both economic growth and connection between states.
“This is another example of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act paying off for Louisiana,” said Cassidy in the press release. “The partnership between Amtrak, the Southern Rail Commission, Mayors Walker, Ellis, and Arceneaux connects north Louisiana cities with all points East and West.”
Trains are good at moving freight and that’s about it. If you want to demonstrate to yourself how ridiculously inefficient trains are when it comes to moving yourself around the country you can figure it out simply by looking at the train schedule, comparing it to an airline schedule, and calculating the maximum number of passengers that could be moved by either within the same time frame. Just the stops alone between New York City and Atlanta eat up more time then the entire duration of the flight from New York City to Dallas.
Just what we need. In what universe will this ever be anything besides pork spending. Go look at ticket prices. I have to wonder how Amtrak could ever make a profit with these train lines. Tickets are outrageous. How could they possibly sell enough tickets to even break even?