The Southern Railway inter-city service between Atlanta and Savannah last ran in 1971.

USA: The Senate has allocated $8m to conduct an environmental impact study for a proposed 400 km high speed line between Savannah and Atlanta via Macon. The budget allocation forms part of a $1·5tr legislative package to fund the federal government for the rest of 2022, which was passed on March 10.

According to Anthony Foxx, former Secretary of Transportation and Co-Chair of the US High Speed Rail Coalition, the new line would serve a growing population, providing a long-overdue alternative to private vehicles.

‘This is a major milestone for Georgia transportation, winning bipartisan support in the Senate’, added Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff, welcoming the passing of the bill. ‘This historic first step will assess the viability of a high speed rail connection between Atlanta and Savannah, connecting these great cities and communities in between.’

The inter-city passenger service between Atlanta and Savannah ceased in 1971 when the newly formed Amtrak declined to continue running the Southern Railway’s Nancy Hanks II, which completed the journey in around 6 h. A private car trip between the cities today takes around 4 h, depending on traffic. The proposed high speed line would run in the same corridor as the I16 and I75 highways which link Atlanta with Macon and Savannah; end-to-end journey time is estimated at 75 min.

The Atlanta to Savannah line would form part of the wider Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. This proposal involves repurposing and upgrading a number of under-utilised or abandoned alignments between cities in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, to form a passenger and freight network that could eventually link up with the Northeast Corridor in Washington DC.