Restoration of passenger rail service could be in the Gulf Coast’s future.

The FAST Act established the Gulf Coast Rail Service Working Group in December 2015 to evaluate restoration of rail passenger service between New Orleans, Louisiana and Orlando.

The previously existing passenger rail service was stopped before Hurricane Katrina. Damage to the route has been repaired and freight service was restored, but passenger rail service has not been restored.

The group evaluating possible restoration of passenger rail service includes members from the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, CSX, Southern Rail Commission, West Florida Regional Planning Council, and other stakeholders along the Gulf Coast.

The group has been convening to discuss details for the possible restoration, including funding and prioritization of actions to be taken should restoration be approved.

The result of these meetings will be a full report submitted by the group to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, and the committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives.

The Gulf Coast Rail Service Working Group encourages community input regarding the project. Sen. Bill Nelson is a ranking member of the Senate Committee that will review the final report provided by the Gulf Coast Rail Service Working Group.

Community members may send an email stating their position on the project to one of these contacts at Nelson's office by year’s end:

Devon Barnhart,  Devon_Barnhart@commerce.senate.gov

Mary Louise Hester, marylouise_hester@billnelson.senate.gov

Contact West Florida Regional Planning Council Planner, Vikki Garrett, at 332-7976, Ext. 211 or vikki.garrett@wfrpc.org, for more information.