Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Alabama officials comment on Sunset restoration

Mayor Sam Jones seems to be on board with restoring Amtrak service on the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans. It is a little odd, I think, that he backs the “stand alone” train option. The Mobile Press Register carries a story with “Breaking News” status, which seems peculiar.

The headline states: 3 options, none cheap.

Come on, guys! We wanted “free,” not cheap. Highways are free, aren’t they?

Although I was somewhat less than enthusiastic about the prospects of this train, the attitude of lawmakers is rather perplexing. Before Katrina, this train was part of the national system. Now, putting a service back in place is portrayed as some kind of huge favor.

In a statement, Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, said he plans to review the report with members of the House transportation committee, which also received it. Bonner also wanted to learn more from community leaders about how passenger service would create jobs and other economic development.

“Clearly, given the cost estimates of the three options, a significant public benefit would be necessary in order to justify the cost,” he said.

A spokesman for Sen. Richard Shelby, a Tuscaloosa Republican who sits on a key transportation spending panel, did not reply to requests for comment Thursday and Friday. Richard Finley of Birmingham, who chairs the Southern High-Speed Rail Commission, which promotes regional passenger rail service for Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, also could not be reached for comment.

Earth to Congressman Bonner, earth to Bonner: we just spent how much money bailing out big banks and insurance companies?

I am not as white-hot angry and negative as many on the Amtrak Sunset report, but guys like Bonner ought to pay attention to people who know which end is up. Amtrak does not need a new Sanford station and there are big questions around the proposed improvements in the Sanford maintenance facilities.The expenses suggested by this study require scrutiny and even the report says that some costs are optional.

There are very thorny issues raised by the report, but the Sunset serves an important transportation market. Providing daily reliable service is a whole new deal for the Gulf coast region.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

2 Responses

  1. Jerry H. Sullivan, P.E. (retired) says:

    If nothing comes of this, in 2009, forget it until after 2010. I doubt any of the politicians will consider anything besides highway and airline money in an election year, 2010.

    Personally any of the options is fine with me. I was a frequent rider, and I seriously doubt any of these fool politicians, with the exception of Ms. Corinne Brown has ever rode any Amtrak service outside the NEC.

  2. The silliest part about the Sanford Maintenance facility is that Amtrak has already broken ground on an improved maintenance facility as well as a new AutoTrain station in Sanford. Gosh folks, how plush does a maintenance facility in Florida have to be – the main goal is to keep the alligators at bay anyway so they don’t swim in the drop pits.

    I think any money not direclty related to the service itself, or to restoring the stations except for Jacksonville, to ADA complience should be cut. Jacksonville station has never shutdown and if it is brought to ADA compliance that cost should be charged against the SilverSErvice mainly.

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August 2009


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