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Chattanooga VW plant reignites Atlanta HSR talk

Auto-maker Volkswagen recently announced its intention to open a new assembly plant in the east Tennessee city of Chattanooga. The jobs and economic stimulation the facility will bring to the area has gotten lawmakers in Tennessee and Georgia talking about the planned HSR/maglev link between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

“Chattanooga is a tourism destination for Atlanta,” Sen. [Jeff] Mullis [R-GA] told a luncheon audience at the Chattanooga Pachyderm Club on Monday. “If a maglev (magnetic levitation) train was connected here to the Chattanooga airport, it would improve that situation a lot.”

The high-speed rail line has been pitched for years as a way to relieve crowding at Atlanta’s airport and get more use from Chattanooga’s airport, by linking the two with a fast commuter train.

The announcement this month that German automaker Volkswagen will get back into car manufacturing in the United States with an assembly plant at Chattanooga’s Enterprise South gives added reason to build a mag-lev line between Chattanooga and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Sen. Mullis said.

This is also another interesting example of air travel driving the development of high-speed rail. This project would never have even been brought up if not for the need to relieve stress on Atlanta’s gargantuan airport. It does seem that planners are looking beyond simple airport annexation, as a downtown terminal seems to be in discussion for Chattanooga, at least. An extension of the line from Chattanooga to Tennessee’s capital of Nashville has also been on the drawing board for a while.

As Chattanooga’s larger neighbor, Knoxville, is my hometown, the news that Chattanooga could become Tennessee’s future rail focus is a bit disconcerting to me. Our own political and media  figures have had their heads buried deep in the sand about passenger rail for quite some time now.

Filed under: Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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August 2022