Trains For America

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More pressure for Sunset Limited restoration

Unsurprisingly, local governments along the route of the former Eastern portion of Amtrak’s Sunset Limited, from New Orleans to Florida, are clamoring for the service to return. Now of course, fuss created by city councils and whatnot generally doesn’t add up to much, but last year’s Amtrak Reauthorization bill requires the company to study reopening the route, which closed after Hurricane Katrina damaged the tracks back in 2005. The report is due this summer. Yet this article mentions the uncertainty of an actual comeback for the Sunset:

Sunset Limited, particularly the eastern portion, has long ranked as one of Amtrak’s most problematic trains.

In fiscal 2004, the last full year before Hurricane Katrina, the Sunset carried just 96,000 riders, including 37,000 east of New Orleans. The remaining, western portion carried 72,000 passengers in fiscal 2008, making it Amtrak’s least popular long-distance train.

The most popular long-distance route, the Empire Builder that links Chicago with the Pacific Northwest, had 554,000 riders.

The railroad already was discussing whether to discontinue the eastern portion of the Sunset Limited when Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, The Associated Press reported.

Of course, Amtrak ridership has been surging since the closure. I think a well- managed return for the service might very well be a success. What do you all think? Should it be brought back?

Filed under: Amtrak, , ,

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