Transportation – January 9, 2022
Amtrak and freight railway company, Canadian Pacific, announce CP’s formalized agreement to supportexpanded passenger rail routes in the Midwest and South
Amtrak and the freight railway company, Canadian Pacific (CP), announced this past week, on January 6, that the two transportation entities had reached an agreement formalizing Canadian Pacific’s support of Amtrak’s expansion of passenger rail service in the Midwest and the South.
In the announcement, Amtrak President Stephen J. Gardner said, “Given CP’s consistent record as an Amtrak host, we support CP’s proposal to expand its network. This is exactly what Congress and the Administration are seeking: Amtrak and the freight railroads working together to benefit freight customers, Amtrak passengers, our state/regional partners and the general public.”
This announcement also conveyed that the agreement included Amtrak’s support for the proposed combination of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern (KCS) railways. Merger negotiations between KCS and CP began in March of 2021.
The announcement by Amtrak and CP was very welcomed news to passenger rail advocacy organizations throughout the nation, including the I-20 Corridor Council.
The I-20 Corridor Council is a non-profit grassroots advocacy organization and multi-state coalition, comprised of mayors, judges, elected officials and other stakeholders along the I-20 Corridor, which has been working consistently for more than 15 years to establish the East-West long-distance passenger rail connection between Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta, Georgia. This route would also connect to the East Coast, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
The announcement also stated: “Subject to CP’s application for control of KCS being approved by the STB (Surface Transportation Board), the agreement also includes CP’s commitment to support Amtrak efforts to work with the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) and others for the first service in more than 50 years on two U.S. routes.”
The two passenger rail routes referenced in the announcement in this regard, which would involve track owned by CP, are Amtrak service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and to study the potential for Amtrak service between Meridian, Miss., and Dallas, which is the proposed I-20 Corridor passenger rail route.
Former Texas State Senator and former Harrison County Judge Richard Anderson is the chairman of the I-20 Corridor Council and shared the following comments:
“The I-20 Corridor Council and all who have been working with great devotion to re-establish this important East-West passenger rail connection across the southeastern region of our nation are very pleased and grateful for the positive steps that Amtrak and Canadian Pacific have announced. We look forward to continued progress in this regard as we continue to work toward making the I-20 Corridor long distance passenger rail connection a reality for the great benefit of our Southern region and nation.”
In addition to thanking Amtrak, CP, and the members of the multi-state I-20 Corridor coalition, Anderson also thanked fellow passenger rail advocacy organizations, as well as governmental and quasi-governmental entities, who also support the proposed I-20 Corridor rail route.
These entities in support of the I-20 Corridor route include the Southern Rail Commission (SRC), Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization (TEMPO), North Central Texas Council of Governments, East Texas Council of Governments, North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA), Coordinating & Development Corporation, Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments, North Delta Regional Planning & Development District, Rail Passengers Association, Texas Rail Advocates, and others.
Judge Anderson also shared his deep appreciation for his former Texas Senate colleague, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who, since 1993, has represented the 30th Congressional District of Texas, which includes southern Dallas. Representative Johnson also serves as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Judge Anderson stated: “Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson has provided outstanding leadership in transportation throughout her impressive career in Congress and in public service. We appreciate her leadership and strong support and assistance in working with us to establish the I-20 Corridor passenger rail route.”
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson added: “I am pleased that Canadian Pacific Railway has announced that they are receptive to supporting Amtrak’s expansion of passenger rail service in the Midwest and the South. Along with the I-20 Corridor Council and the North Central Texas Council of Governments, I will continue to work steadfastly to bring to fruition an Amtrak passenger rail line that, once complete, will provide rail service from Dallas to Atlanta.”
Judge Anderson also stated that, with the passage of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the I-20 Corridor passenger rail project could provide an excellent return on investment. That’s because it would requirea comparatively small fraction of a percent of what will be needed for this project from the $16 billion which the IIJA has designated for long-distance passenger rail.
This once-in-a-generation legislation was passed by Congress then signed into law by President Biden on November 15, 2021.
Judge Anderson explained: “The feasibility and capacity studies on the I-20 Corridor route, which have already been completed by Amtrak, TXDOT, and others using the $738,000 in grant funding that the Corridor Council obtained, with the assistance of former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, determined that the I-20 Corridor route would be economically viable on existing track without an annual subsidy. It also determined that capacity could be increased, such as additional sidings, for a relatively low cost and in a relatively short period of time. Plus, this new passenger rail service should not adversely affect freight traffic.”
Judge Anderson concluded: “Again, we appreciate these positive steps announced by Amtrak and CP for the routes in the Midwest and South. Plus, in rural Amtrak-served communities, such as Marshall and Longview, we always appreciate the strong partnership with Amtrak.”
He went on to share: “We look forward to continued progress ahead not only in collaborating to establish the important I-20 Corridor route but also strengthening the Texas Eagle route to its full pre-pandemic capacity and strengthening Amtrak’s National Network.”
“In this way, we can continue to increase connectivity between our rural and urban communities throughout the United States and bring increased benefits to the American people with regard to transportation, economic development, quality of life, and many other benefits.”
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