Hundreds of fans cheered on as an Amtrak passenger train pulled into Chipley for the first time in more than 10 years. On Feb. 19, 2016, crowds, music, an honor guard, and local officials welcomed Amtrak officials on a picture perfect morning. Everyone is in high hopes Amtrak will start back passenger service in the northwest Florida region.
Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) are currently conducting a tour to examine new ideas for intercity passenger rail by operating an Inspection Train from New Orleans to Jacksonville, Fla. Chipley was one of the stops along the route.
The Inspection Train, hosted by Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman carried officials, industry representatives, community leaders and federal stakeholders. The goal of the trip is to examine the existing CSX railroad infrastructure and to better understand rail’s economic, cultural and mobility opportunities. It will provide an unparalleled perspective on reintroducing intercity passenger rail along the Gulf Coast.
The SRC recently released a study by Amtrak detailing the range of feasible service options accompanied by an analysis of ridership levels, projected revenues, and associated costs for passenger trains between New Orleans and Orlando. The models in this new study present the range of service options that will support regional economic resilience and projected population growth.
Connecting the cities and towns along the Gulf Coast with passenger rail is one of the top priority projects for the Southern Rail Commission.
“The Southern Rail Commission is committed to working with local and federal partners, and Amtrak to make this service a reality in the near future,” said SRC Chairman Greg White. “We are continuing to align the necessary support for the project.”