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Amtrak’s return to Mississippi Gulf Coast may be derailed by city leaders in Alabama

Plans to bring Amtrak passenger services back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for the first time since Hurricane Katrina may not be coming to fruition as they lack the support necessary from city officials one state over.

Back in 2022, Amtrak and two freight companies came to an agreement allowing a route from Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans, La. with four stops in Mississippi along the way. Those stops were designated to be in Bay St. Louis, Pascagoula, Gulfport, and Biloxi.

Now those plans run the risk of derailing as Alabama officials have tasked the city of Mobile with footing a bulk of the bill for the state’s share of the project. For the restoration of the passenger rail to move forward, five of the Port City’s seven city councilmen must approve the plans.

Per a report from WALA, two councilmen are on record expressing opposition to subsidizing the federal railroad corporation’s operations. A third councilman has been a longtime critic of Amtrak funding in general.

The Alabama Port Authority recently agreed to cover $1 million of the expenses, or one-third of the annual price to have the train service, over the next three years. However, Mobile leaders fear that the project could have financial ramifications on the city after that three-year period expires.

Though Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson is hopeful that an agreement will be reached to bring an Amtrack passenger rail back to the Gulf Coast for the first time since 2005, it’s unlikely that the city council will obtain a majority vote to fund the project.

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