New Orleans to Baton Rouge inspection train (Photo: Governor's office)

USA: Louisiana state officials including Governor John Bel Edwards have inspected the 130 km route of a long-proposed Baton Rouge to New Orleans passenger service.

This would use Kansas City Southern tracks between Baton Rouge and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, and then Canadian National tracks from the airport into the Union Passenger Terminal, which is served by other Amtrak trains and inter-city buses. It is envisaged that intermediate stops would be added in the future.

New Orleans to Baton Rouge inspection train (Photo: Governor's office)

‘The impending merger between the Kansas City Southern and Canadian Pacific railways provides opportunities and renewed support to introduce the first-ever Amtrak service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, since CP has agreement to host the trains’, said Edwards on April 20. ‘An Amtrak line connecting Louisiana’s capital to the largest metropolitan area in the state will have immense economic benefits for both cities and the parishes in between, allowing the state to compete with other major metropolitan areas. Not only will this service potentially reduce the number of vehicles on the roadways which will result in less traffic congestion, but it will also connect communities through employment opportunities and allow for more transportation options for festivals, sporting events and concerts.’

Louisiana’s Transportation & Development Secretary Shawn D Wilson said the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act would allocate nearly $6bn to infrastructure projects in the state, supporting the ‘first steps’ toward launching the proposed service. ‘Starting a service is not easy and it does not happen overnight’, he said. ‘We have missed the train once before and this governor has been very clear on the matter that we will not miss it again on his watch.’

  • Amtrak has completed a $5·4m project to improve the accessibility of the station at Greenwood, Mississippi. This includes a concrete platform that matches the train height, ramps to accessible parking spaces and a renovated waiting room with toilets, drinking fountains and seats.